Right-wing extremists are a threat to the peace and safety of good Americans.  Hateful gun-toting Southerners are riled up again and want to invade Massachusetts and New York and deprive people of their rights to abortion and atheism.  So one must conclude from a recent piece in The New Yorker and an article on Patheos, a popular website on religion: “White, ‘Christian’ and Treasonous: Who [sic] Will They Kill?”  The latter, by Frank Schaeffer, informs us that “a bunch of far-right, white, mostly Southern paranoid extremists are preparing for armed revolution and apocalypse.  They speak treason: literally.”

This has been a burgeoning theme in the mainstream media lately.  Judging from individual comments posted to some of the articles I have read, there are a considerable number of Americans who feel personally threatened by their fellow citizens who disagree with them.  History repeats itself, though not exactly, which is the tricky part.  It has happened before.  This scenario describes American history, 1846-76: the Cold War against the South followed by invasion and destruction.  You can get the basic story from the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  The Puritans (now even more godless than before) are gearing up again for a purge.  Puritans believe they have the right to judge others.  If the others are found wanting or inconvenient—that is, if they are unlike the Elect—they are demonized.  They are not just fellow citizens who disagree; they are devils to be put down.

Those who intend destruction of others are helped by creating the impression that the others are an active, scheming, aggressive threat to all that is good and right.  The jihad against “right-wing extremists” is not a product of liberal enlightenment.  It is a product of a self-centered and rather childish fear and hatred of Americans who are not like them.  Conveniently, some of the vague hatred for foreign terrorists that is free-floating around can be associated with Americans who are not with the progressive program: “domestic terrorists.”  Never mind that most “right-wing extremism,” whether sensible or not, is essentially defensive: By definition, whoever resists the relentless left-wing agenda is the initiator of violence.  The current noise reminds one of the Bolsheviks revving themselves up to eliminate the kulaks.  The demonization of such threatening resisters has increased greatly since Obama’s reelection.  It is a fantastic delusion that Southern “extremists” are plotting to dictate to Massachusetts, when all we want is for them to leave us alone.  Delusions, if they are widespread, especially among those who hold political power, can have disastrous consequences for the peace and safety of a society.

The Puritans feel, perhaps accurately, that they now have a permanent purchase on federal power and can pursue the suppression of dissent with confidence.  The profile of a dangerous “domestic terrorist” has already been set down in policy in a number of federal departments, including the military: gun owners who take seriously the need for self-defense, right-to-lifers, people obsessed with an outdated Constitution, those who doubt the eternal benevolence of the federal power or the soundness of federal money.  In other words, anyone who, like the Founding Fathers, regards rulers with suspicion rather than worship.  If you are one of these, you would do well to take note.

It has recently been shown that the people of Nazi Germany actually believed themselves to be free while they were slavishly obeying their masters.  America now, like Germany then, is full of people who fancy themselves as advanced modern thinkers bringing on a new and better world order.  They are actually members of a herd.  I won’t say it will happen here.  Nobody can predict the future.  But it could happen here.  There is little institutionalized power that stands in the way.  Two things you can be sure of: Whatever plans may or may not be under way for gun confiscation or other illegal and oppressive federal actions, our rulers will keep their armed protection and private schools, and the national leaders of the Republican Party would never be caught dead defending us “right-wing extremists.”