The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Fear of Fascism, ‘Gay Agenda’ Dominates Conservative Kickoff for Midterm Elections

Last updated: July 31, 2020 | September 28, 2009 | Rian Mcconnell
news

How to Take Back America Conference, St. Louis (Photo by: David Weigel) How to Take Back America Conference, St. Louis (Photo by: David Weigel)

ST. LOUIS — Kitty Werthmann has made quite a career out of warning Americans that fascism is on its way. The 84-year-old native Austrian survived the excesses of the Third Reich and, in her dotage as a leader of the South Dakota branch of the Eagle Forum, recorded tapes and videos explaining just how Hitler took power. She made her case during George W. Bush’s presidency, but the audience was small–fringe conservative activists, radio hosts like Alex Jones. Then came President Barack Obama. On Saturday, at the “How to Take Back America” conference, Werthmann found herself speaking to an overflowing room of conservative activists about the parallels between Obama and the rise of Hitler.

“We had prayer in school before we started class, and after class,” said Werthmann. “One day I came into the classroom and the crucifix was gone, and there was Hitler’s picture, and the Nazi flag on either side. And our teacher said, ‘Today we don’t pray anymore. We sing ‘Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles.’”

Image by: Matt Mahurin Image by: Matt Mahurin

The audience of mostly female conservative activists murmured; some of them scrawled out detailed notes, shaking their heads at what they were hearing. It had been a few days since Fox News reported that a New Jersey school had children sing a song of praise to President Obama. They kept on writing and listening as Werthmann explained how Hitler had euthanized mentally handicapped children, and how he’d kept lists of political enemies.

“What would you suggest we do,” asked one activist, “if we are asked to give up our guns?”

“Don’t you dare give up your guns!” thundered Werthmann. “Never, never, never!”

“Give them back one bullet at a time!” called out another activist. The tense atmosphere melted a little bit; the room broke up with laughter.

According to Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, the “How to Take Back America” conference was the largest summit the group had held in all of its 38 years. Schlafly, who turned 85 in August, moved slowly through the halls of the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac, a 30-minute drive west from the center of the city, as new attendees shook her hand and begged her for autographs and photos. She told TWI that the registration topped 600, beating the previous record of around 300, and the size was overwhelming as hurried hotel staff tried to break down and build up tables for meals, for books, for punch at the end of the day.

“Kitty has pointed out the parallels between the slow, incremental Hitler takeover of Austria and some of the things that are happening today,” said Schlafly, asked about Werthmann’s “How to Recognize Living Under Nazis and Communists” session. “She’s an expert on that. I see what [Obama] is doing as absolute socialism, as government ownership of the means of production.”

The “How to Take Back America” conference was no place for soft critiques of the Obama administration. It was a weekend of speeches and training sessions that were laden with doom, cries of mounting fascism, and long prayers for salvation. It was the kind of event where Schlafly, a conservative icon who’s often seen as a leader of the movement’s far right flank, could take the role of a pragmatist, sticking to the sort of criticism of the Obama administration that might appear on Fox News and asking activists to elect a Republican Congress in 2010. And Schlafly succeeded in bringing big Republican stars to the conference. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) was the biggest draw, but six members of Congress attended, too–Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Several 2010 Republican candidates hosted workshops, including Ed Martin and Vicky Hartzler, both running for Democratic-held U.S. House seats in Missouri. But some of the rhetoric went beyond partisan politics. At worst, the speakers argued, fascism was on the horizon. At best, this was a pivotal time in a war on Christian values. Some of the speakers split the difference.

“If you look at the classic model for moving to Marxism,” said retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who would give the conference’s opening speech, “you look at what every Marxist organization has done, they nationalize. They redistribute wealth. They restrict gun ownership. They then go out and suppress the opposition. And then, finally, they censor the media.”

In his speech, Boykin–who has gotten into hot water for speaking out against Islam while in uniform–begged the audience to pray for their country. “It’s only because of intercessory prayer that we haven’t been hit again since September 11,” said Boykin. “Pray for America for 10 minutes a day. If we can mobilize millions of prayer warriors that can pray for 10 minutes a day, we can open the gates of heaven.”

In the halls and from the stages of the conference, there were constant warnings of fascist, anti-Christian campaigns to break down American morals and sovereignty. Rev. Rick Scarborough, a pastor who advised Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, pounded the podium at his Friday afternoon speech, warning that the president’s pro-gay agenda was endangering Christians who spoke out against gay rights.

“The day the president put his hand on the bible,” said Scarborough, “his minions were changing official White House Website to reflect a whole new understanding of civil rights, to refer to homosexuals.” The Bible, said Scarborough, called these people “sodomites, which no one wants to talk about because it reminds them of their behavior.”

Some activists followed this up with a breakout session on “How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement,” where they learned about transgender awareness days at public schools. And some went to “How to Stop Feminist and Gay Attacks on the Military,” where they were informed that upwards of 200,000 active duty members of the military might quit if “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is repealed.

Those worries about the “gay agenda” came in the context of other alleged threats to the Constitution. Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, hosted two panel sessions; one on the United Nations, one on “How to Understand Islam.” The theme throughout was that “transnationalists” of either the Islamic school or the secular school were targeting the Constitution. Conservatives, said Gaffney, could combat this by “picking fights” over seemingly obscure issues, and he cited the work he’d done slowing the nomination for Harold Koh, now the legal advisor to the State Department. Lawyers like Koh, said Gaffney, were dangers to national sovereignty.

“The North American Union is a real thing,” said Gaffney. “It is a real transnational agenda to try to forge out of Mexico, Canada, and the United States, a real competitor to the American Union.” Beseeching his audience not to treat the NAU as “black helicopter stuff,” he claimed the existence of “something like twenty-five different trilateral working groups, each and every one of which is beavering away at new transnational regulations.”

The activists, mostly female and Midwestern, but included people who’d traveled from both coasts, moved in and out of these sessions taking copious notes. Some of them were hearing about this stuff, with this spin, for the first time. “A lot of people don’t think the U.N. is any big threat,” said Karen Clark, an activist from Utah, telling TWI what she’d learned from Gaffney’s speech. “I hadn’t heard about the two schools of transnationalism before.”

Off the stage, the fears and conspiracy theories about President Obama grew more obscure. One activist told TWI that Obama may have been “installed” after decades of lessons from Communists. Peggy Carter, an Eagle Forum leader from North Carolina, fretted that Obama was “anti-white,” and had only stealthily revealed that to Americans because “he can’t afford” to make it obvious.

Some of the most prominent attendees told TWI that they had doubts about the president’s birth records. Rep. Cynthia Davis, a Republican state legislator in Missouri who has worked with “birther” lawyer Orly Taitz for most of this year, said that lawsuits demanding proof of the president’s citizenship were chiefly about the integrity of the Constitution, and that because Obama’s father was Kenyan, Obama’s eligibility problems extended beyond his birth records.

“Her credibility is questioned because she has an accent,” said Davis, defending Taitz, “and yet the reason she has an accent is because she came from a Communist country, and she knows how awful that is, to have a government usurped.”

Other Republican politicians who’d gotten in hot water for indulging in “birther” jokes or conspiracies led popular breakout sessions. Kris Kobach, a candidate for Kansas secretary of state who had joked that neither Jesus Christ nor Obama had a birth certificate, told TWI that he wouldn’t bother with the issue if elected in 2010, and expected it to be dealt with in one of the various outstanding lawsuits. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who had pondered a lawsuit over the president’s citizenship, told TWI he had no doubts about Obama’s citizenship, but suspected that something was being hidden by concealing the original 1961 document on file in Hawaii.

“President Obama could solve this problem and make the birthers back off by simply showing us his long-form birth certificate,” said Franks.

Kobach and Franks stayed away from that topic in their sessions. Kobach hosted two, on immigration and on the threats that ACORN and voter registration reform posed to America’s electoral systems. Franks introduced Maafa 21, a documentary which argues that legal abortion in the United States began as a plot to commit genocide against American blacks. During a short clip from the film–which Franks said he’d shown to members of the Congressional Black Caucus–the congressman quietly commented on the most powerful interviews.

“When we said we would no longer go to the back of the bus,” said anti-abortion rights activist Alevda King on the screen, “there was a place being reserved for us at the abortion clinic.”

“Hear, hear,” said Franks.

Whenever he got the chance, Franks told activists about his current project, the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2009, a bill that would make it illegal to perform abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus. By his logic, this could force a lawsuit that would define fetuses as people. Franks, like the other members of Congress who appeared at the conference, tied the cause of Eagle Forum activists to the goals of the founders, of Abraham Lincoln, and of true adherents to the Constitution.

By the close of the conference on Saturday night, the focus had returned to Schlafly. The boisterous, ever-present Christian radio host and conference co-sponsor Janet Porter played a series of clips from the 84-year-old activist’s career and gave her a prize: the “American Hero of the Century” award, a glass eagle with a verse from Isiah scrawled into it. And while his 2008 rival Mitt Romney spoke to the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan, Mike Huckabee flew from New York, where he’d filmed a new episode of his show, to give a closing speech that paid tribute to Schlafly and all of the ideas that the conservatives in the room had forced into the Republican mainstream. He called for slicing the United Nations off of Manhattan, and said that with the help of conservative activists, he might “live to see the day” when abortion is banned in America.

“God bless you,” said Huckabee, “and God bless Phyllis Schlafly most of all.”

*You can follow TWI on Twitter and Facebook. *

Rian Mcconnell | Rian is a Villanova University graduate who was born in DuBois, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia with a medical degree. His residency was at Thomas Jefferson and its associated Wills Eye Hospital, and he finished his education with fellowships in cataract and corneal surgery at the University of Connecticut. He has a vast experience in ophthalmic surgery, with a focus on cataract surgery, corneal transplantation, and laser refractive procedures. He serves on the board of Vision Health International, an agency that provides eye care and surgery to indigent patients in Central and South America, in addition to his surgical practice.

Related

E-Verify Mandate Begins Today

The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm

EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management

At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from

EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann  has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.

EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules

The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’

In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work

EPA Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’

All the attention on the energy front today is going to the BP spill, but the Environmental Protection Agency quietly released its long-anticipated analysis of

EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria

The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards

EPA biologist says fracking may be partly to blame for West Virginia fish kill

New documents obtained by an environmental news service show that an EPA analyst believes that wastewater from fracking may be partly responsible for a fish kill in a West Virginia river. Scientific American reports : U.S

EPA Chief Overruled Calif. Waiver, Too

The Washington Post reported in March that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson was overruled by the White House in setting an ozone standard. Now, documents

EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com