Rise of the radical right

Frank Yonkof

One of the things I look forward to the most on the weekends is getting to read this free local newspaper. Among other things, they have an active forum page that is constantly the place for heated debates.

I live in what I guess would be considered the conservative countryside (compared to Kent, that is); my town has always gone Republican in past elections. So I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise when one woman in particular started writing letters to the editor back in early spring, accusing the president of treason and other awful acts.

But at the time, I was surprised. Back then, more people approved of the president than actually voted for him. Plus, these critics were the same people who went ballistic in 2003 when anyone spoke badly of the former president.

Around the same time, Fox News created a new blogging site, www.TheFoxNation.com, which became another outlet for people like my friend in the local newspaper.

The site is quite interesting and, sadly, I find myself checking it at least once a day. They take content from around the Web and give it biased headlines. A real-life example was a news headline that read, “White House Brushes Off Health-Care Protests.” On the other hand, Fox Nation reinterpreted this headline as “Why Is the White House Attacking Americans?”

But for that article, we were lucky; the link actually took you to an authentic news Web site. Normally, they just feature the ranting and conspiracy theories of conservative writers. But those who comment generally skip reading the stories and instead go crazy.

A Few Examples:

• “.we need to pound and pound on the ‘KENYON’ and all his thugs in the White House and Congress.”

• “Robert Gibbs is a waste of space. Too bad his mother didn’t practice her right to abort.”

• “Our country is in grave danger-these people will stop at nothing! America will fight back!!!”

But what is truly scary is when they began criticizing Fox Nation for moderating and censoring comments. Apparently, this means Fox News is working for the White House.

Because of an atmosphere created by the Republicans seeking a comeback and certain conservative thinkers in the media, many people are actually under the impression that Barack Obama has set out to destroy this nation. They are convinced he is a communist-Nazi-jihadist whose main goal is to kill our constitution and our freedoms.

Of course, it doesn’t help when you have Sarah Palin making up things like “death panels.” But this atmosphere has even extended to the university level, where the College Republicans at the University of Toledo have began compiling a list of “liberal professors” who they feel are biased. It is too vivid a reflection of the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his lists of “known communists” working in the state department.

Although it is too soon to judge the Obama presidency, I truly feel that history books will one day expose the fear-mongering of these radical conservatives. But back in the local newspaper, that particular woman continues to write in monthly and has never seen so many supporters. And liberals willing to speak up seem harder to find.

Frank Yonkof is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].