New York, NY, November 16, 2009 … Rumors about gun confiscations. Angry protests about the government's tax policies, replete with Nazi comparisons. A resurgent militia movement. Rage at the election of a president deemed to be illegitimate and threatening. Distrust and anger toward the government fueled by paranoia and conspiracy theories.
They are among the crosscurrents of anger and hostility that have swept certain sectors of the country since President Barack Obama took office nearly a year ago. And they are contributing to "a toxic atmosphere of rage in America," according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which today issued a report looking at the various sources that have given rise to a climate of anti-government fervor in the United States.
Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies examines the groups and individuals behind this upsurge in anti-government anxiety, from the "birthers" who claim the president is not an actual citizen of the U.S., to militia groups fearful that the government plans to forcibly disarm American citizens, to those who suggest that the health-care reform movement is akin to the Nazi policies that led to the Holocaust.
"In the year since we marked the historic election of the nation's first African-American president we have seen a tremendous amount of anger and hostility," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "There is a toxic atmosphere of rage in America being witnessed at many levels, and it raises fundamental questions for our society.
"While not all of America has bought into these conspiracies, they seem to be seeping more and more into the mainstream," added Mr. Foxman. "And since many of these expressions are interconnected in some significant ways, we wanted to try and connect the dots and ask the basic questions of why the anger, why now, and where might it lead."
From the anti-government "Tea Parties," where protestors have made explicit Nazi comparisons or suggested that the president is subverting the Constitution, to anger-filled town hall meeting disruptions over health care, the wave of anti-government animus has manifested itself in many forms, according to ADL. It has played out across a spectrum of groups, from mainstream groups and politicians to more extreme organizations and individuals.
"The fact that these anti-government sentiments are coming from such a broad spectrum makes it more likely that some individuals will become so inflamed with anger that they will move farther toward the fringes," said Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair. "This could result not only in the swelling of the ranks of anti-government extremist groups and movements, but might give rise to more individuals who are willing to act on their anger."
The ADL report looks at various sources of anti-government anger, including:
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.