By Lee-Anne Goodman (CP)
WASHINGTON — An expert in anti-government militia groups warns of another domestic terrorism attack like the bombing in Oklahoma City 14 years ago.
Angry protesters are showing up at town hall meetings across the United States, some of them saying their country is unrecognizable as they rail against illegal immigrants. Conservative websites, and even Fox News's Glenn Beck, are drawing parallels between Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler, claiming the president's political agenda amounts to a similar brand of murderous fascism.
It's a summer of seething discontent in the United States, with a deeply polarized populace going head-to-head across an ideological divide that has found its boiling point in an unlikely issue - public health-care insurance, something Canada and many other democracies around the world take for granted.
"None of this really has anything to do with health care," Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog, said Wednesday.
One Democratic politician recently went further.
Baird was roundly attacked by the right for making the comment. But a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center says militia groups with axes to grind against the government are regrouping throughout the U.S., fuelled in part by their distaste for Obama and his policies.
The civil rights organization says that among other theories, some of the militia members - who are opposed to paying taxes and rail against any government involvement in their lives - are convinced there's a secret Mexican plan to reclaim the Southwest.
Bart McEntire, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the law centre's researchers that militia group growth is at a 10-year high.
"All it's lacking is a spark," McEntire said in the report, adding he feared it was just a matter of time before another domestic terrorist attack happened. Boehlert points the finger at right-wing news organizations for fuelling much of the populist rage.
Many of the charges coming from right-wing media organizations about Obama's expensive health-care reform plans are fabrications, Boehlert said.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said he was optimistic Obama would be able to quell the discontent and dispel the many myths surrounding health-care reform.
But others believe much of the anger is truly about Obama's race, with his liberal politics simply serving as a convenient excuse for those who resent his presidency.
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, agrees. He points to the woman at a recent town hall meeting in Arkansas who said she no longer recognized her country.
Travis added that the Obamas represent a vexing reality to racists.