Schiavo was a coming-out party for an emboldened radical right wing

Schiavo was a coming-out party for an emboldened radical right wing

Orcinus - The cold embrace
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
A number of observers, both right and left, have concluded that the Terri Schiavo case was a watershed moment, a turning point of sorts in the national discourse.

On the right, they see it as the moment when the left's "culture of death" was seriously confronted for the first time. On the left, it's being hopefully viewed as the moment when the right finally jumped the shark and revealed their ugly, intrusive underside to the public at large.

It will take some time, of course, to ascertain which of these views is closer to the truth, though obviously I've already endorsed the latter wholly.

However, I think that we can defintively say that it was a watershed event in a gathering trend we've been observing for some time here: It clearly marked the open embrace of extremists by the mainstream Republican Party.

It was apparent that the "fight for Terri" attracted a large number of extremists to the cause, notably Bo Gritz and Hal Turner. But they were not as openly adopted by the supposedly mainstream conservatives who joined in the fray as the anti-abortion extremist Randall Terry.

Terry, of course, was everywhere: Popping up on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and various local networks as the chief spokesman for the Schindler family, who sought him out for support.

You'd better get to know these folks, because Schivao was a coming-out party for an emboldened radical right wing, not an isolated incident. The GOP gave theo-cons every indication that they would be allowed to set the agenda. The news media gave them carte blanche, never once explicitly connecting prime players like Randall Terry to their violent pasts. And the Democrats went limp. Now theo-cons are going to be taking their show on the road whenever and wherever they want: over the judiciary, gay marriage, and abortion -- whatever God wills.

The Schiavo case indeed could prove to be a watershed event. But if centrists and progressives cannot muster the will to make clear to the public just how deeply enmeshed with the mainstream the extremist right has become, it will not mark a happy turning point for our nation, but a disastrous one.



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