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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:Rise of Extreme Right Anti-Government Groups Seen at Health Care Protests
19 Aug 2009
BETWEEN THE LINES Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine
Rise of Extreme Right Anti-Government Groups Seen at Health Care Protests

Interview with Chip Berlet, senior analyst with Political Research Associates, conducted by Scott Harris

The town hall meetings held by congresspersons and senators in their home districts over the summer recess have been a magnet for right-wing activists opposed to President Obama's plan to reform the failed U.S. health care system. Supported by Republican Party officials, conservative talk show hosts and some sectors of the insurance and health care industry, protesters have made outrageously false claims that reform legislation will force the euthanasia of senior citizens, mandate abortions for handicapped fetuses and abolish the nation's private insurance companies. Some activists have compared President Obama with Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot, while others have attended recent presidential events carrying firearms and making both blatant and subtle calls for violent resistance to what they call "creeping American socialism."

The incendiary language and conspiracy theories that are helping drive the right-wing response to health care reform in 2009 share many of the same radical views that fueled the McCarthy era of the 1950s and the militia movement of the 1990s. With America's first African-American president in the White House, white supremacist and violent religious groups have increased their criminal activities and recruitment.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Chip Berlet, senior analyst with Political Research Associates and author of the recent report titled, "Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating." He examines the militant protests seen at health care reform town hall meetings and their connection to America's wider extreme right movement.

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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
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©2009 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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