The Bakke Plot To "Infiltrate" Secular Institutions
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 30, 2016 at 11:38:00 AM EST
Back in 2012-2014 I did a lot of writing and research on The Gathering, the yearly meeting of elite evangelical right philanthropists who collectively distribute upwards of $1 billion dollars a year in grants and function as the funding wing of The Fellowship, which hosts the National Prayer Breakfast.

My research was based, at least initially, on an audio archive of talks at The Gathering which went back to 1996. That archive, along with a trove of The Gathering newsletters back to '96, used to be publicly available at the official website of The Gathering. Around 2013 or so, most of that archival material vanished. Fortunately, I had harvested it and have since made it available to select researchers.

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The Term "Alt-Right" is All Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 09:16:47 PM EST
There is a misguided effort underway to not use the term "alt-right."  The effort, currently led by the Center for American Progress, claims that using the term somehow helps provide PR cover for racists.  It would be nice, but there is rarely a one word solution for anything. That's why this campaign is a non-starter that will be ignored by almost everyone. This major report on the Alt-Right and its founder, by Sarah Posner in Rolling Stone is a good example of just how ignored this campaign will be.  Sensible discussions of the term are busting out all over.  Slate had a good discussion titled "There's No Better Term for the Alt-Right Than Alt-Right."  Another approach was outlined by scholar Matthew Lyons, (Co author with Chip Berlet of the book Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, which has turned out to be an important scholarly handbook for our time). Lyons writes:

We are moving into a bleak period, when understanding the forces opposing us will be more important than ever. That means exposing supremacist ideologies in all forms and guises, but it also means developing a political vocabulary that lets us make distinctions, rather than treat all enemies as one undifferentiated mass.

In light of the controversy, the Associated Press has updated their Stylebook.  


"Our guidance on when and how to use the term "alt-right," including: avoid using it generically and without definition."

This is, of course true of all such terms. Never use them generically, and always define them so the reader can understand what the writer actually intends.  This is one of the reasons why at Talk to Action we have sought to avoid labeling and demonization.  

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Getting the Low Down on Dominionism
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 25, 2016 at 04:17:59 AM EST
A refresher on dominionism will probably come in handy over the next little while. -- FC

I am pleased to report that the task of getting the low down on dominionism may be becoming easier for scholars, journalists and activists. There have been four important works of scholarship published in the past year that taken together, are a game changer in what is becoming a sprawling (and often tendentious) conversation across the past half century and across much of our religious and political culture.

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The New Kochs: Anthology of DeVos Support, Funding of School Privatization and Religious Right
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 08:53:30 PM EST
This post from 2-14 will be a helpful resource in the days ahead. -- FC

Mother Jones' January/February issue includes an article titled "Meet the New Kochs: The DeVos Clan's Plan to Defund the Left."  Author Andy Kroll details Dick DeVos' role in orchestrating the ambush that made Michigan a "right-to-work" (aka "right to work for less") state.  Of course, the DeVos family's exploits against labor unions and public education aren't new, and Talk2action contributors have been writing about them for years. This includes a series of articles on the DeVoses role promoting school vouchers and a series of articles by Russ Bellant, author of the 1996 book, The Religious Right in Michigan Politics. See the list and links after the fold, including a video clip from Dick DeVos' 2002 speech at the Heritage Foundation in which he described the need to change the face of the "school choice" movement.

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Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 08:30:33 PM EST
This post about the long term strategy for privatizing the public schools takes on fresh importance in light of the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. -- FC

Right-wing think tanks have determined that school vouchers are key to eradicating public education and Dick and Betsy DeVos lead the way in execution of the well-funded plan. The money is tracked in two extensive reports on Talk2action [1 and 2]. DeVos video excerpt below fold.

"We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities," Dick DeVos warned in a December 2002 speech at the Heritage Foundation. DeVos was introduced by former Secretary of Education William Bennett and then proposed a stealth strategy for promoting school vouchers in state legislatures.  DeVos and his wife Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that were soundly rejected by voters.  Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to "dismantle" public schools; the DeVoses persevered.  Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide "rewards or consequences" to state legislators, learning from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local "grass roots" entities and could not be "viewed as only a conservative idea."  DeVos added, "This has got to be the battle.  It will not be as visible."

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Did God Engineer Trump's Win?
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 14, 2016 at 10:30:40 AM EST

Political analysts have postulated a number of theories to explain the victory of Donald J. Trump in the presidential election: Hillary Clinton failed to energize the Democratic base, Trump tapped into a vein of hidden supporters, angry Rust Belt voters rose up, etc.

But some activists in the Religious Right have their own explanation: It was divine intervention.

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Some thoughts for a Sunday post-election reflection:
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 05:33:20 PM EST
Emancipation, Reconstruction, Redemption, the Ku Klux Klan,
Jim Crow

The struggles of the Civil Rights Movement took us two steps forward

Now the "Second Redemption" yanks us back

Racism, White nationalism, misogyny, heteropatriarchy, xenophobia, militarism, authoritarianism, neofascism, Alt-Right

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Election 2016 is a win/win for the Christian Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Nov 08, 2016 at 11:08:53 PM EST
I was interviewed by the Free Speech Radio Network on Tuesday, election day.

Here is the transcript:

    After more than a year and a half of presidential campaigning, Election Day has finally arrived in the U.S.  With the popular vote looking much closer than projections for the electoral college spread, the divisiveness and acrimony has highlighted deep social and political rifts in the country. Some say the outcome will benefit the Christian Right -- irrespective of who wins the White House.  FSRN's Shannon Young spoke with Frederick Clarkson, Senior Fellow at Political Research Associates a progressive, social justice think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Download Audio

    Shannon Young: Frederick Clarkson, you've said that the 2016 election will be a win/win for the Christian Right. Explain what you mean by that.

    Frederick Clarkson: If the Trump-Pence ticket wins, they will be viewed as kingmakers because polling has shown that conservative evangelicals have been his most loyal base of support, much to many people's surprise. And, of course, Mike Pence is by far the most conservative Christian leader we've had as part of a national ticket, ever.

    But if they lose, they go into resistance mode, which is where they are very strong. They can really rally against Hillary Clinton and build their movement - engaging in fundraising - in much they way that they did during the previous Clinton's administration. And I think that we'll probably see a strong rise in armed militia movements and other extreme expressions, as well. So, for a social movement on the scale and virulence of the Christian Right, it's a win-win day.

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On The Ridiculous Charge Of Clinton Anti-Catholicism
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 07, 2016 at 01:06:35 PM EST
Julian Assange has been busy lately trying to sabotage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency. As part of his vendetta, he has released a series of hacked e-mails, one of which was highlighted with the apparent intent of suppressing Catholic support for the Democratic nominee.  But by any reasonable standard, it would take some interpretations of convenience to make it so.
(2 comments, 932 words in story)
From Russia Without Love
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 31, 2016 at 09:18:26 PM EST
It was less than two years ago but it now seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote about how Russia appeared to be encouraging secessionist groups in the United State. In light events of the past few months, it seems worth reprising part of my story -- adapted from the blog of Political Research Associates.

Groups and individuals involved in the wider movements of the Christian Right and contemporary libertarianism, have advocated varying degrees of nullification and secession; and have envisioned varying degrees of political tension, violence and civil war. None other than former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) spoke at a gathering in January 2015 at the Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, called “Breaking Away: The Case for Secession”.

“I would like to start off,” Paul declared, “by talking about the subject and the subject is secession and, uh, nullification, the breaking up of government, and the good news is it’s gonna happen. It’s happening.”

While its not clear how far along Ron Paul’s vision may be, one of those who is seeking to put boots on the ground is Michael Hill, head of the theocratic and White supremacist Alabama-based League of the South.

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Northwest Arkansas, A Hotbed for Anti-Semitism
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 19, 2016 at 02:05:52 PM EST
Three organizations in Northwest Arkansas are deeply interwoven into the most rabid Anti-Semitic teachings in the nation.  Gerald Smith, buried at the base of the statue of Jesus of the Ozarks, founded the Passion Play in Eureka Springs.  Smith ran for President under the platform of "We got to do something about the Jews."  Harrison, Arkansas is the headquarters for a Christian Identity group who teaches Jews are really descendants of Satan copulating with Eve in the garden.
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Joseph Cella is Back - Taking the Opposite Tack from Pope Francis
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 19, 2016 at 08:38:01 AM EST
Joseph J. Cella has had a change of heart since he joined with those conservative Catholic activists who signed a declaration during the Republican primary season, urging Catholic voters not to nominate Donald Trump.
(7 comments, 627 words in story)
Radcliffe Sucker Punched by Right-Wing Propagandists
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 10, 2016 at 11:58:06 PM EST
The prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard College will host a panel on Monday, Oct 17, titled "Righting the Record: Conservatism and the Archives."

According to the press release:
Over the past half-century, grassroots activists and organizations both left and right have focused on women's roles, family values, homosexuality, and reproductive policy, transforming modern American life. Yet the collections of major public repositories, especially those housed at universities, tend to document only one side of this complicated history: the left side.

This claim is absent any evidence, and is part of a longstanding (and fraudulent) whine from the Right that campuses are hostile to right-wing ideas. No surprise to find out nemesis here at Talk to Action, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, moderating the event.
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Celebrating Banned Books Week
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 24, 2016 at 10:22:09 PM EST
Banned Books Week is the venerable annual celebration of the right to read and the highlighting of efforts by cultural vigilantes of various sorts (but usually the Christian Right) to restrict or eliminate access to targeted works in public libraries and beyond.  Although challenged books have, over the years run from Catcher in the Rye to Fifty Shades of Grey to the Bible, more typically, challenged books are by or about racial, sexual or religious minorities.  And this year is no exception. Oh, except that the Bible made the list of the Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the
American Library Association and the American Booksellers Foundation, and many other publishing and free speech organizations, which host thousands of cool and inspiring events in person and online including a week's worth of events at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

This year Banned Books Week runs from September 25-October 1.

(3 comments, 681 words in story)
Birthers, Birchers and Lee Harvey Oswald
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 19, 2016 at 12:01:12 PM EST
"It would be more accurate to say that Oswald was his own agent, that he was moved to act by dint of his own inclination.  That inclination was born of a fragmented and peripatetic youth, adolescence, and early adulthood, but ultimately Oswald was self-propelled.  The mysterious and fictional heart of darkness residing somewhere in America did not murder the mythical hero-president.  Oswald did." Peter Savodnik
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