Minority Report: Witnessing the Backlash

The BacklashIf I hadn’t read Will Bunch’s The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, I might have been more mystified by several recent developments.

Monday, NBC’s Brian Williams, in an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama, asked for a response to charges that the president is not a native-born American. On Sunday, Fox News host Glenn Beck and his marquee speaker Sarah Palin rallied hundreds of thousands of conservatives to the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to call for a return to American sense of honor. Supermarket tabloids give front-page coverage to claims that Obama is a Muslim. Shirley Sherrod, a former Department of Agriculture employee, was fired after a conservative web site posted a clip of her speech confessing a former bias against whites; though it turns out that the full text of her remarks were about helping a white couple save their farm.

Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter Bunch traveled the length and breadth of the US, attending rallies and meetings of radical groups worked up about the state of the nation under the first black president. Bunch pinpoints their worries to changes in demographics that has the US Census Bureau predicting that by 2050 whites will no longer be in the majority. Bunch profiles the Tea Party, Birthers, Oath Keepers, 9.12 Project and others; and debunks several claims, including the allegation that FEMA has been directed to round up discontents for internment camps and that the Obama administration was confiscating guns.

It all makes for interesting reading and observing as the mid-term elections approach.

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About the Author:

Vanessa Bush is a freelance reviewer for Booklist and is a contributor to Chicago Public Radio.

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