Friday, January 13, 2012

Wingnuts of Yore

I have often wondered (not enough to actually do any research on the question) how far back in history do the roots of modern wingnuttery extend? Anyone who's read Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm knows that the politics of the Tea Party actually goes back to at least the immediate post-WWII era and the candidacy of Robert Taft, but where did that come from? Republican hostility to FDR is famous ("traitor to his class" and all that) but does that really make it a candidate for antecedent of the Teatards?

Erik Loomis provides us today with an example of the wingnut flower in full blossom, dated 1948:

While carping about race and creed inequality, as a theme song to bring the unthinking masses to his support, he and his wife actually did more to promote creed and race strife than was ever done before in the history of our country or will ever be in the future.
The Roosevelt administration is directly responsible for our government being hopelessly involved in a debt so great that if it is ever repaid, which is doubt, virtual enslavement to taxes sufficient to kill all initiative will be necessary for the next two hundred years.

I think there is common perception that wingnuttery dates from, and is a reaction to, attempts to extend first-class citizenship to brown people (alluded to e.g. here) but that only goes far enough to explain how the crazy could be made palatable for retail. The real origin is older, and is a reaction to earlier attempts constrain the power of the owner class v. their employees, to the outrage of the former.

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