The Public Eye


Political Research Associates packets: Minister Farrakhan, The Nation of Islam, Historic Conspiracy Theories, and Anti-Jewish Rhetoric. Racial Nationalism and the Third Position; Traditional Values, Racism and Christian Theocracy; Constructing Homophobia: How the Right Wing Defines Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals as a Threat to Civilization, part III.

The political and religious right wing has a centuries-old tradition of publishing its propaganda in tracts, newspapers, and books. In the United States and abroad, hundreds of right-wing groups continue this legacy along with other sordid traditions, such as violent attacks against immigrants, people of color, and lesbians and gays. Political Research Associates (PRA) in Cambridge, MA tracks many of these hate groups through media produced by and about them. After reading a few topical packets prepared by PRA, people turning a novice eye to the realm of right-wing activity can begin to see how political and religious right-wingers continue to exist by re-inventing their ideologies of hate to frame contemporary debates.

PRA's quarterly newsletter, The Public Eye, as well as progressive and right-wing publications are excerpted in PRA's topical research packets. Much of the early 1980s content in these packets is dated, but while we anticipate comprehensive anthologies with diverse progressive perspectives on the right wing, these research packets are helpful. It's interesting to delve into these readings and marvel at odd couplings of groups espousing racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and anti-semitic rhetoric, to see the real political power these groups have asserted, and to see how progressive individuals and organizations like PRA fight back.

In 1985, the conservative National Democratic Party Committee predicted in a report, "AIDS Is More Deadly Than Nuclear War," that an AIDS pandemic would wipe out the entire U.S. population by January 1993. A copy of the report in Constructing Homophobia: How the Right Wing Defines Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals as a Threat to Civilization (part III) claims that such annihilation would be the "fault" of homosexuals. Constructing Homophobia (part III) is one segment of an 11-part collection focusing on anti-gay legislation, namely Colorado's Amendment 2 and Oregon's Measure 9. Scapegoating of gays and lesbians is part of the anti-government rhetoric of much of the right wing, which frames gay and lesbian rights, civil rights, affirmative action, and multiculturalism as a projection of private concerns into the public arena of big-government policy making. The right fears that government policy promoting these rights and what they call "untraditional" lifestyles will trample their individual freedoms and particular traditions by introducing moral, religious, and democratic diversity. Such fear motivated groups like Colorado for Family Values, Eagle Forum, and Christian Coalition to rally in favor of the discriminatory legislation proposed in Colorado and Oregon. Gays, lesbians, and their supporters struck back and took their fight to court. Legislation in both states was defeated even after many people had voted in favor of them. Much of this debate is documented in Constructing Homophobia, along with lists exposing right-wing groups who fought for the legislation.

When right-wingers rally around particular issues like family values or abortion, their alliances can exert great pressure on government. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders was pushed out of office after her comments on masturbation were publicized out of context. Long before Elders's hurried exit, right-wing organizations like John W. Whitehead's The Rutherford Institute urged readers of its newsletter and direct-mail letters to lobby their politicians in opposition to Elders's forthright opinions on sexuality and safe sex. They viewed her as a threat to so-called traditional family values. Copies of letters from The Rutherford Institute's campaign are included in Traditional Values, Racism, and Christian Theocracy, another PRA packet. The current nominee for U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Robert Foster, is facing a similar onslaught of right-wing accusations after admitting that he performed legal abortions in his decades-long career as an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Some right-wing groups make links with unlikely allies based on shared beliefs. For example, according to articles in the PRA packet Racial Nationalism and the Third Position, the black separatist Nation of Islam (NOI) and white supremacist Lyndon LaRouche Network have found common ground in their beliefs of biological and political separation of the races. Racial Nationalism and the Third Position also contains a copy of an interview conducted by editors of The Spotlight with NOI leader Louis Farrakhan, whose anti-Semitic rhetoric is documented in the PRA packet Minister Farrakhan, The Nation of Islam, Historic Conspiracy Theories, and Anti-Jewish Rhetoric. The right-wing Liberty Lobby, a notoriously anti-Semitic group, publishes The Spotlight, which has a circulation of over 100,000. In addition, according to articles in Racial Nationalism and the Third Position, New Alliance Party (NAP), which describes itself as a Marxist-Leninist collection of blacks, gays, feminists, Chicanos and Native Americans has also been linked with LaRouche. The belief that democratic government is not beneficial for the majority of people is what links NOI, LaRouche Network, Liberty Lobby and NAP, and leads these groups to advocate geographic and political separation along racial lines.

Unfortunately, some progressive groups that are unaware of numerous right-wing organizations and activities find themselves allied with ideological foes, Racial Nationalism and the Third Position contains fascinating documentation about the third position, a modern offshoot of national socialism (or fascism). In "Traditional Values, Racism, and Christian Theocracy," a December 1992 article in The Public Eye, writers Margaret Quigley and Chip Berlet define this new fascism. "Third position politics blends a virulent racial nationalism (manifested in an isolationist, anti-immigration stance) with a purported support for environmentalism, trade unionism, and the dignity of labor." Third position advocates have spread their ideology in publications like Greenwave in the United Kingdom.

The tradition of political and religious right-wing publishing does not appear to be waning. Right-wing groups often publish their own newsletters, magazines, or newspapers. For example, NOI publishes a tabloid newspaper named The Final Call. The anti-gay and anti-feminist Eagle Forum publishes the Eagle Forum newsletter. Individual advocates of right-wing agendas have also entered the publishing fray. Famous among them is David Brock, a gay man, who wrote a scathing criticism of Anita Hill and her complaint against Justice Clarence Thomas in The Real Anita Hill: the untold story (New York: Free Press, 1993), which became a best-seller. The conservative Free Press garnered a lot of attention when it published the notoriously right-wing and racist The Bell Curve: intelligence and class structure in American life (New York: Free Press, 1994) by Charles H. Murray And Richard J. Herrnstein. And conservative U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was offered an astonishing $4.5 million advance by a mainstream publisher to write two books.

Progressive individuals and organizations fight back with publications and books of their own. Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson wrote a book critical of Justice Clarence Thomas's strategies called Strange Justice: the selling of Clarence Thomas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994). PRA publishes its own newsletter, The Public Eye, and books with South End Press in Boston, MA. The Public Eye, a 17-year-old political newsletter, has been published by PRA since 1988. The 16-page newsletter usually contains a feature article, an annotated list of progressive books, reviews of books from across the left and right political spectrums, fetters to the editor, and a section called "Eyes Rights," which exposes religious and political right-wing groups and movements. PRA also makes available a list of "Groups Promoting Democratic Rights, Civil Liberties, Serial Justice, Equality and Pluralism? Contact Political Research Associates, 678 Massachusetts Ave., ste. 702, Cambridge, MA 02139. (617) 661-9313.

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