Live From "Take Back America"

Dave Weigel reports:

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they were informed that upwards of 200,000 active duty members of the military might quit if "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is repealed.

When I was young and kids would gather to jump someone, they'd always make up a story to conceal the cowardly act. In other words, instead of just beating you down, they'd say something like, "I heard you were messing with my cousin." Or they wouldn't just walk up to you and take your walkman, they'd say, "Hey shortie, lemme see that." The idea was to create a just narrative for an unjust act. If you'd been messing with the dude's cousin, if you'd let him "see" your walkman, then were no longer an innocent.

I thought of that old custom reading this. The notion of being besieged--the idea that Obama is a threat to gun-owners, that the gays somehow want something more than to just live out their lives in peace--is essential to justifying the fear-mongering. Much like no one says "Me and my friends are going to kick your ass, because we feel like it," no one ever comes out and says, "I hate fags" or "I hate niggers." What they say is that the feminist are attacking our military, or the president "hates white people," or the president is giving out reparations disguised as health-care.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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