The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

A Discussion of Today’s Washington Rallies

By Mark Potok on April 19, 2010 - 3:23 pm, Posted in Antigovernment
I hosted an online chat this afternoon for the Washington Post about the gun rallies around Washington, D.C., and the growing radical right. I thought there were some excellent questions and urge readers to take a look.
  • Larry

    You know, in 65 years of life I’ve noticed that the militias rise and fall in direct proportion to the oppressivness of government. I wonder why?

  • Bob

    This whole article is biased from the beginning and useless as such. The TeaParty movement is anti_BIG Government – NOT anti-Government as the biased claims continue to be made.
    Anti-BIG Government means FOLLOWING THE CONSTITUTION AS IT WAS WRITTEN, NOT AS SOME WISH IT WAS! In a day in which BIG Government is spending at obscene rates, making promises the OBVIOUSLY can NOT meet, and intruding into lives to the point of being between doctors and patients and now starting to tell us what to eat, our present dictiatorial Government does NOT resemble what our forefathers fought to give us – FREEDOM!
    With freedom comes responsibilit, a FACT many have lost, expecting BIG Government to take care of us in nearly everything. Today, its health care and now weight issues. What is in the wings for tomorrow? Asking Europe what temperature we can set our thermostats at and what type cars can we drive (remember a campaign speed in OR?)?
    STOP THE INSTRUSIONS INTO PERSONAL LIVES! Many leftists want to legalize drugs, what else is next? Daily organized exercise sessions? How many times a month we are allowed to have sex?

  • Ben Andrews

    I find it interesting how so many here assume that everyone in the tea party movement or that all gun activists are the same and want the same things. There are certainly racists in both of these groups just as there are in any group of any size. The tea party, in general, do not want no government, they want less government. Lumping them all together as racist and ignorant is no better than judging any group of people. Granted, there are groups that by their very nature define their members’ views (if you join a white supremacist group it’s probably because you believe in their agenda). But you can be against an out-of-control government without being anti-government. You can believe in our second amendment rights without advocating violence, and you can be against ILLEGAL immigration without being a racist.

  • Hatewatch

    Participating in a forum (including this one) just to stir things up is typically not worth the effort.

  • LT

    Oh, and I forgot, if Wallmart supplies their stores only intermittently with ammunition, the sportsman will have to visit the store 3 times instead of 1 time to buy ammo and pick up a gallon of milk on the way out.

  • LT

    Has anybody noticed that there’s a war? Our army can use like 4 BILLION rounds of ammo A YEAR in war, training, give-aways to foreign police and military, and restocking strategic reserves that were sold off cheap in the 1990’s. Contractors are making bullets for governments, not civilians. Metals that were once cheap used to make ammo are now sky high as well. Gun sales geeks always act like supplies are drying up to help seal that impulse buy. That’s why ammo is “rare” and expensive. Don’t give Obama credit when it ain’t due.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    So who wants to post the details of that new gun-grabbing legislation? Does anyone have a link to it? Does it even exist?

  • John Lloyd Scharf

    Fools say,” They believe, their website is infested with SPLC operatives and Homeland Security types. They are paranoid and I say let’s make their fears come true,” and the last thing to go through their mind is either, “How did I get into this mess” or a piece of lead. The last one to engage in that sort of conspiracy is a Beaverton school teacher who may not have a job or, worse yet, find himself charged with conspiracy to commit identity theft. Why SPLC allows such on their site, I do not know. It is the sort of thing KKK and neo-nazis do.

  • Billy Thomas

    I want to expose another website that needs watching. It appears very tame and is sponsored by Georgia Outdoor News. The site is Woody’s Campfire Forum. It is home to the Georgia Militia. They have a political arm and have a Commander named Elfii. He stated, “I’m disappointed I didn’t make the Top 40 list”. I think he needs to be on it but, #41 will do.

  • Billy Thomas


    I own guns and greatly appreciate my 2nd amendment rights.
    I can assure you there are Militia Groups chomping at the bit to take back “their Government”.
    Our Country was established as a Republic but operates on the Democratic Principle of Majority Rule.
    These guys lost the election and are nothing more than sore losers.
    If they want their Government back, I suggest they do it at the ballot box.

  • Billy Thomas

    They believe, their website is infested with SPLC operatives and Homeland Security types. They are paranoid and I say let’s make their fears come true.

  • Billy Thomas


    You impress me as a writer.

    I have been visiting the Oath Keeper’s website over the last five or six days. I have been playing various roles in an attempt to bring them down. When they pulled out of the Restore the Constitution Open Carry Rally they ensured their doom in my opinion. I have now been banned from their site, since about two hours ago.
    One of the main parts of The Oath requires them to obey the Orders of the President of the United States and the Officers appointed over them. I believe, most have forgotten this part of the oath, the rest chose to overlook it.
    I would encourage you and all others who would like to see them fail in their mission, to visit their site and comment.
    Visit the blogs dealing with their decision to withdrawn from the open carry rally and the update to their decision to withdraw.
    They are a bunch of hipocrites and hateriots, they violate my first amendment rights but, want their rights protected. It is a lot of fun to get on there and debate them and make them look like fools.
    I am a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major and depend on my military retired pay and Health Care. They are trying to destroy my means of existance and I don’t appreciate it. I am all for religion but, they use their religious vales to subvert the Constitution and advocate violence. They should be charged with treason.

  • John Lloyd Scharf

    “I think they’ve essentially bought into a conspiracy theory — that President Obama, because he is a liberal Democrat, is going to introduce gun control. ”

    Pelosi and Reid are more to be concerned with rather than Obama on the introduction of gun control, but he made comments about those who “love” guns and Bibles, his arrogance is no secret. Obama cannot introduce gun control, but he can use an executive order to take them.

    FDR proved with executive order 9066 that just about anythng is possible for a President, including taking away the rights of citizens. So, like F. Roosevelt and A.Jackson, he would not be the first Democrat to impose totalitarian tactics to subjugate a portion of the population.

  • Wookie

    I’m one of those Bible believing southerns. Recently I attended a conference at the Univ. of Tennessee on poverty and health-care. Rep. Jim Cooper, a blue dog Dem, who voted for health-care reform, was the last speaker of the day. Some of the Tea Bag folks were there to question him on the constitutionality of the Health-care Reform Bill. They were loud and forceful in expressing there opinion. UT police were very professional in explaining to the Teabaggers how this was not a public forum and recommended they tone down there behavior. In a fit the Teabaggers walked out. They were not told to leave. They were simply told to ask their questions in a civil manner. I followed them out. I approached the leader of the Tea Bag group. With a calm voice, I said I did not want to debate or argue. I just wanted to ask a few questions. The guy went into a 10 minute rant to which I patiently listened. I finely had to interrupt him by repeating, I just wanted to ask a couple of questions that would help me to understand his point of view. He and his fellow Teabaggers seemed intent on not letting me ask my questions but somehow I managed to work them in. My questions were simple. Why are there people in this country who carry weapons to town hall meeting with the intent of intimidation? Why would they be willing to start a civil war and kill other Americans rather than step up and help a fellow American pay for his child’s medical bills? The guy shouted at me that it was not his place to pay for my or anyone else’s medical bills. I said, “Thank you, I now understand where you’re coming from but, I can’t agree with it.” I explained, “You see, I am my brother’s keeper. I understand the lesson of the Good Samaritan. I don’t take my marching orders from President Obama. I try to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and in doing so, I see no conflict in allowing my government to represent the people as a whole when it comes to doing the LORD’s work.” I then challenged him to show me anywhere in the Bible that would support his point of view. I asked him and everyone else in his group to show me where it says not to help the sick and injured. Of course they couldn’t but one person said it’s not the job of the government to do that. So I ask, “If not the government, who?” I explained, our government is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In a way we are all “The Government”. The Teabaggers just don’t seem to get it. I know there are community reasonable companies and banks in our country yet, there are far to many corporate CEOs, and Wall St. types who would work us all as slaves rather than pay a fair wage. They would pollute the air, water and land to make a profit. They will gough us at the gas pumps and put us out of work so they can move their production to China just to increase their profit margin. When it comes to dealing with these profit motivated plunders of the Earth, I want my government to be the biggest baddest dog on the block. The only time my government fails is when our elected representatives sell out to the greedy irresponsible bankers and corporate types. I guess the Teabaggers would like to just do away with the government and hand the world over to the corporations. They like to quote Jefferson about “watering the tree of liberty” but allow me to share another Jefferson saying…

    “I believe banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow the private banks to control the issue of there currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    98% of the worlds wealth belongs to 1% of the population. Teabaggers think they are free. They worry about losing their freedom. If that’s the case why do they fight so hard against the people’s government? When our government works, it is the only thing that stands between us and the robber barons. Why do they vote for those who have sold their souls to the banks and corporations? Why do they vote for those who would start wars just to line their pockets? What makes a person a selfish, self centered, hateful and, predigest. There is but one answer. No matter what their level of education, they’re just plain stupid. Or maybe, they’re willing to sell their souls for a little “trickle down”.

  • Expatriot

    People, REALLY. Take a breath. I am studying in the UK now, just watching what is happening in my beloved home. And it is horrible to watch. I am a happy-go-lucky, gun-toting liberal from OK studying human rights. Yeah, mix all that up in your bag. Both sides are wrong. Both sides are pointing fingers, ratcheting up the rhetoric, comparing each other to the worst things possible. The generalizations are at a historic level, and the media has taken leave of its senses when it comes to responsible reporting. It’s obvious the populace is becoming more frightened and more frenzied, at a cost only to ourselves.

    This is the time we need to band together. To find our common ground. To look for solace in our unity as Americans, to pull together to sort out the difficulties we face together as a nation, not to turn to childish blame games.

    We are bigger than this. We are better than this. Not only are we letting ourselves down by acting in this way and “threatening” each other with derogatory, harsh terminology, we are letting down our ancestors who were able to put such fear to work for them, to bond together, and to overcome difficulties much greater than we face now.

    These aren’t conservative v. liberal (or vice versa) problems. These are American problems. Let’s stop hating (on both sides of the fence), put on our big kid pants and get to work.

  • kevin

    I just wanted to add an interesting experience to the discussion. I am an ex-Army officer and do own and shoot guns. I spent the morning at the shooting range recently and stopped on my way home to buy ammunition (since I pretty much shot all that I had at the range).

    I stopped at two different gun stores and both were out of .38 and .357 ammuniton. I found this to be strange since both are very common calibers.

    When I asked why they were out the owner of the shop said that “oh, ever since Obama got elected I can’t keep it on the shelves, all of these people are buying every round I have saying that Obama’s going to come and try to take their guns away”.

    I find this disturbing on so many levels, to think there is such a large group of uneducated, paranoid gun owners, stocking up on all the ammo they can find just because Obama is in the White House is alarming.

    The owner of the gun shop said he had a similar upswing in ammunition purchases when Bill Clinton became president but that this one was far more severe.

  • Ron

    I Believe everybody should have guns if they want them, but not the AK47 or that type gun. those type guns are you used for 1 thing and everybody knows what that is.

  • Frank Montalvo

    Tea Party members are not crazies (though some on the fringe act like they are), they are scared by the changes to the status quo the Obama administration is making, and by a Black president to boot. Some anxiety comes with age; I know, I’m 81. They are the conservative base who hate to lose and “want their country back” to the way it was in Republican hands. Sore losers, yes, but afraid of change, mostly. They are enraged and blindly oppose any and all issues advocated by the administration, no matter how illogical or inconsistent their arguments (see NYT poll). Big government! Socialist! Hitler! 2nd Amendment! “let the poor eat cake”! “keep your government hands of my social security and Medicare!” Fear is a political weapon the Republicans, the Party of No, freely whip up at the country’s expense.

  • josephS

    Despite a conspicuous lack of violence at these 4/19 gatherings, we’re supposed to believe that systemic hatred has flooded the country, and that they are the evidence. Whether the gun rights protesters were misguided over the issue or not we’re supposed to believe they’re all trigger-happy thugs, though not a shot was fired. SPLC’s approach to the gun protests has been to label them racists and thugs based on, what, their ignorance over Obama’s role regarding the 2nd amendment? Demonizing people for being, at most, misinformed?
    The SPLC’s attack on the Tea Parties has not been honest, either. If you want to focus on Militia groups, focus on militia groups, but DON’T pretend to link them philosophically with a bunch of aging protesters worried that Government spending is threatening the fiscal integrity of the country. And, there are many, many gun owners in this country. Protesting their right to own and carry is not the same thing as inciting to violence, as 4/19 showed.
    And what is the point of “BUT, WHERE were you when BUSH was spending all that money?” I think the question is an attempt to draw out hypocrits, perhaps. But the next question is, despite where anyone was, are you saying that Obama’s spending, which is blowing the top of any previous records, is just A-OK with you? That’s the issue now. Bush is gone.
    If you’re gonna attack people for being lunatics, try first to avoid being a lunic yourself.

  • matt carmody

    Obviously it was Hitler I meant as giving anti-govt speeches in Germany.

  • matt carmody

    Patty, what happened in Germany leading up to the Nazis being given the government is exactly what is happening here. In speeches Butler continuously painted the Weimar government as incompetent and played to the people’s feelings of being used. He had the tacit approval of political elites, especially when he attacked unions and Communists. Sound familiar?
    It’s too bad the framers weren’t more concise in their meaning of militias. As used throughout the early days of this country it obviously means the national guard but we’ve allowed it to become EVERYONE has the right to own a gun.
    This entire nation needs a very long time out.

  • Patty Distel

    (Besides the few obvious nutcases)-What supernatural abilities do the members of SPLC have that they can judge another man’s heart and call him (or certain group) haters?

    When I grew up people who lived where they could not critisize the government were called Communists!!!

    If – I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one nation UNDER GOD, indivisable with liberty and justice for all” – does that make me a “Patriot/Christian/Hater” ?

    Our Country was founded as a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC- not a democracy- look up the difference it is important. If I believe in keeping our constitutional rights and freedoms does that make me a hater?

    I do not own a gun, I am 99.999% sure I will never own a gun. But I believe the 2nd amendment right is important to a free people. Study what happened in Germany pre- WWII before you make a decision.

    Consider also that police are being layed off but the criminals are still out there with MANY illegal guns..

    No doubt SOME tea party members are racist as there are racists in EVERY GROUP but I would suggest that most organizations are made of people that recognize that Bush/Cheney were responsible for flushing the constitution and economy of this country down the toilet.

    Pres Obama gave some hope.He promised to change many of Bush’s wrongs but instead is following on Bush’s same path.- even given that he was left with a HELL of a mess-people are disheartened we still are in TWO WARS.

    My point is that there are people in this country with legitimate concerns that are exercising their freedom of speech and that does not make them “HATERS”. I don’t believe ANYONE including SPLC can judge another persons heart and by making a HATER/PATRIOT list is trying to deny others the American right to think and speak freely.

  • daemonesslisa

    Full disclosure: I heard that term on Countdown w/Olbermann, someone had Twittered that to him :)

  • skinnyminny


    I love the term you’ve used “Tea-hadist!” Can I use that phrase on future comments?

    Lee, unfortunately, you tend to believe that SPLC is targeting ‘whites,’ out of malice – do you not see who is out their creating the news and names for themselves? Street crime, doesn’t always make these posts – but, when groups do things in the name of trying to disrupt/destroy the government or country – yeah, that’s news! If you want sugar-coating, try Fox! Furthermore, stop your ‘victim,’ mentality.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Lee, I could see how that line could be misconstrued as a blanket statement against “white” people, but for the most part the SPLC does not simply target white people and it does report on non-white extremist groups as well. In a way the statement you quoted is correct, just poorly worded.

  • Lee

    “I hear it all the time in chat rooms. “I’m not racist!” and then the same person will make the most blatently [sic] racist comment.” – beholder

    Kind of like how the SPLC publishes blatantly biased anti-White racist reports which generalize against ALL White people and accuse ALL White people of hatred?

    “From the beginning, white Americans have brutalized American Indians. Half a millennium later, the hate goes on.” – SPLC

    Yeah, blatantly racist comments like that.

    Perhaps the SPLC can write an article about the hundreds of Palestinians who are tortured by Jews in Israel each month and accuse all Jews of this behavior, rather than the actions of a few.

  • daemonesslisa

    I hear a lot of these vermin say that the protests aren’t about race; but these jerks not only didn’t protest like this under the Bush administration, they didn’t gather like this under the Clinton administration either. They’ll tell you it’s about the constitution (first and second amendments in particular), or their sovereign rights, or their tax dollars. Some might even bring religion into the protests, saying that their god isn’t gonna let this supposed destruction of american values continue.

    They talk up their conspiracy theories about new world orders and FEMA camps. They even talk about the SPLC being part of this mass re-education effort. And lets not forget about the communist/marxist/socialist/fascist/racist/maoist/islamist/kenyan that they insist is gonna destroy the country. (All this misinformation courtesy of cable news and talk radio).

    These people are NOT Americans.

    They are Tea-hadists.

  • Difluoroethane

    In other recent news, a California state senator has reported getting nasty faxes and phone calls (containing the N-word as well as scatological and homophobic language) from Sarah Palin fans:

  • skinnyminny

    Tom Tancredo was one that made, what is considered racial remarks in the past when he was a senator, and the height of the “minute men in Arizona.” At one point, during this time, the cable programs called him a kook – that is Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, the GOP ran away from him, and this was during the GWB administration. I believe at this time, the only supporter he had was Lou Dobbs.

    But that’s where the problem lies, the media continues to give these people airtime. But there’s nothing like the U.S. Senate write-in candidate Glenn Miller placing racist ads on radio airwaves in Missouri. BTW, the FCC forces the stations to air the ads unedited that demean Jews and non-Whites. It is rumored this guy once led the White Patriots Party in Missouri. Imagine, this guy in the senate! Don’t we have enough of these people running the halls now?

  • Linnea

    Good discussion. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to log on.

    And I agree with Snorlax. Unfortunately, as Mark pointed out so well in the discussion, reason doesn’t count for much with these folks.

  • Difluoroethane

    Also, can you imagine the outcry that would result if someone told Rahm Emanuel to go back to Israel? I don’t know how anybody in their right mind could possibly think that Tancredo’s remark was _not_ racist and inappropriate.
    How would Tom Tancredo react if someone told _him_ to go back to Italy? Would he cry foul and claim to be a victim of racism? If the answer is yes (which I’m pretty sure it is), then that would make him a hypocrite.

  • Difluoroethane

    Speaking of Washington DC….

    Looks like former congressman Tom Tancredo has told President Obama to go back to Kenya.

    Racism: Not just for the fringe anymore.

  • Not a lunitic Tea Bagger

    These Tea Baggers hav the zeal of a Christian suicide cult. They want smaller government without the taxes or supporting governmental structure providing their government run health care or their elderly welfare. They want no government & all the bennifits of governemnt. The Tea Baggers can’t have it both ways; no matter how much glen beck, rush, or fox”news” feeds them. For a bunch of educated profesionals they don’t act with any degree of inteligence. And just with the GOP and the lunitic Christians; the Tea Baggers are setting them selves up to be betrayed by the very corporations running the Tea Bagging groups, “freedom”works I’m looking in your direction.

  • skinnyminny

    Snorlax, soo true!

    However, here’s something that should be focused on too- an article written in April 2009, “Suspect in officers’ shooting was into conspiracy theories.” What interesting about this article, this 22 y.o.was, like most extremist groups, heavily involved and interested in the 1st and 2nd Amendment. He was, according to the article, actively into the websites Storm Front and Alex Jones, and feared a gun ban, and taking of his rights to own a gun to defend himself. The article explained that he feared the military would be returning to act against the citizens here. This article was on a website at the – the article reminds me of what I am seeing of some of these groups, the behavior and mannerism, oh, he was in the military too!

  • beholder

    Great comments all.

    Whenever someone comments about the militia groups being misrepresented — that is, “painted” by groups such as the SPLC as somehow being more radical or hateful than they supposedly are — I am always intrigued by what these groups want us to believe they do believe in.

    There is a well known aspect of people’s self image that seems to be fairly universal, that no matter how awful the deeds committed or the creeds professed may be, no one feels that it is justified to think of them as “bad people”. Mass murderers sit on death row, their feelings hurt because people don’t like them. The vast majority of the really awful extremists certainly consider themselves to be martyrs or unsung heroes, and almost uniformly condemn society for either being misled, or conspiring to villify their truly heroic acts. But what higher values do they represent? What is this claim to legitimacy?

    I hear it all the time in chat rooms. “I’m not racist!” and then the same person will make the most blatently racist comment. Racial bias is one of the most insidious of human perversities for just this reason – the people carrying around stereotypes and bias don’t perceive it as such, assuming they perceive it all.

    So I am genuinely interested to know, if the perception of these militia groups as disaffected anti-government extremists is so wrong, what are we supposed to think about them? Who is guiding their ideology? Charismatic individuals within the groups, coercing the simple minded? Some historical figure? A comic book hero? Some vague idea of revolutionary era Patriotism?

    Nobody ever explains it, they just say they’re not like that and people who know the truth know better.

    Well, what is the truth then?

  • Snorlax

    “…one woman at a tea party rally had 10 children and needed Medicaid to pay for their health insurance. She seemed to have no problems protesting the latest health care reform though.”


    Same thing goes for the Senior Citizens at these Teabagger rallies. They’re complaining about socialized medicine, but don’t you dare take away their Medicare and Medicaid!!


    I HATE Hypocrites. Stupid, stupid, stupid people.