Obama, Assassination, and the Antichrist Conspiracy
The alleged shooter charged with attempting to assassinate President Obama, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, apparently thinks our Commander in Chief is an agent of Satan in an End Times war. Sarah Posner has explained the basics in an article "'Obama the Antichrist' and end-times doctrine."
I warned about the possibility of the demonization of Obama leading to more violence in a book chapter published in 2010 "The Roots of Anti-Obama Rhetoric."
Many individuals who act out in violence in the early stages of a demonization campaign are struggling with emotional or psychological issues. Their choice of target, however, indicates a larger group of individuals are weighing the need for action "before time runs out--the classic apocalyptic timetable. Below is a slightly revised version of what I wrote:
A September 2009 poll in New Jersey found that 14% of Republicans believed that President Obama was the Antichrist--Satan's agent in the End Times according to one reading of the Bible's Book of Revelation. Another 15% thought it might be possible.
The results across political allegiances, however, were also troubling; with 8% of respondents statewide saying they thought Obama was the Antichrist and 13% stating they "aren't sure". The poll also found that "21% of respondents, including 33% of Republicans, express the belief that Obama was not born in the United States".
According to the pollster, these are "eye popping numbers" ("Extremism in New Jersey", 2009).
The mobilization of apocalyptic expectation among Christian Evangelicals in the United States has been shown to be an effective mobilization strategy by the Christian Right and allies in the Republican Party (Boyer, 1992; Fuller 1995). This is especially true among fundamentalists (Barron, 1992; Mason, 2002; Berlet, 2008). This millenarian mood is spread from religious into secular communities, often through conspiracy theories (Brasher, 2000).
Public assertions claiming harm to individuals and threats to the nation are not without consequences.
As Milbank observed in a newspaper column, Glenn Beck routinely "accuses Tides of seeking to seize power and destroy capitalism, and he suggests that a full range of his enemies on the left all have `ties to the Tides Center.'"
In 2010, a heavily armed unemployed man was arrested as he drove toward the Tides Center in California. His plan was to "kill progressives" (Milbank, 2010). After a shootout with police, the accused, Byron Williams, told investigators that he:
... wanted to start a revolution by "killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU", according to a police affidavit. His mother, Janice, told the San Francisco Chronicle that her son had been watching television news and was upset by "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items" (Milbank, 2010).
During the election campaign in 2008 it was clear some people were becoming agitated about the potential for a Black man backed by liberals to become the next President of the United States. The following is compiled from published news reports.
Shortly before the election, police broke up an alleged plot by racist skinheads in Tennessee to kill Black people and then assassinate candidate Obama.
Democracy is built upon a foundation of informed consent. Attacks on President Obama built around myths, fabrications, and bigotry undermines not just the man or the Presidency, but also democracy itself.
More on this soon.
Dances with Devils:
How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes
Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism
`Christian Warriors': Who Are The Hutaree Militia And Where Did They Come From?
Stephen D. O'Leary's Theory of Apocalyptic Rhetoric
Culture, Religion, Apocalypse, and Middle East Foreign Policy
Chip Berlet & Nikhil Aziz
Cite: Chip Berlet. 2010. "The Roots of Anti-Obama Rhetoric," in Donald Cunnigen, Marino A. Bruce (eds.) Race in the Age of Obama (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Volume 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.301-319.