How Well do we Know Our Opponents?

February 19, 2001

By Jock Gill for


Using Google to connect the dots

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous took me to task recently for not using the word fascist to describe the GOP's election 2000 behavior. While I think this is too strong a term at this time, I am reminded that my father told me in the days of Joe McCarthy - our democratic institutions may be strong but they are not immune to attack. Indeed, the radical right has become quite adept at using the language of democracy to accomplish some profoundly anti-democratic goals.

Take, for example, the "Federalist Society?" Do you know about them?

The Federalist Society, founded in 1982 at Yale University, is one of the principle organizations by which the right wing conducts its assault on the democratic foundations of our legal system. Just as previous generation of ultraconservatives used "states rights" to oppose civil rights and integration, the Federalist Society is a new generation of right wing ideologues seeking to defend racism and homophobia with a "states rights" rationale.

They include a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court: Chief Justice William Renquist and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas. Several Senators including Spencer Abraham and Orrin Hatch are members as are former Special Prosecutor/Chief Moral Crusader Kenneth Starr, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Solicitor General Ted Olson, future Supreme Court Justice Robert Bork, former FBI director C. Boyden Gray, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, Scaife Foundation Trustee T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., former Christian Coalition President Donald Paul Hodel and a host of others.

If you find this hard to believe, please try using the Google search engine to verify what I am saying. Use as a search term: Scalia Federalist Society. You may be very surprised. In fact, Google is a great FUQ tool. Simply enter the key words in your FUQ as a Google query. It is important to ‘connect the dots’ if we are to properly understand our opponents.

So Attorney General Ashcroft may or may not be a racist. But he most definitely is a Federalist, a word with a proud history conveniently able to be captured by right wing fanatics as a way of sounding reasonable and responsible while they work to gut civil rights laws, undercut environmental protection measures and measures designed to address the massively unequal status afforded women, homosexuals, and racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.

My tutor concluded with a sharp criticism of what I call 20th Century Democrats.

"Democrats don't do anything because they are too damned lazy to demand that their Senators and their Congressmen behave like Democrats. They would rather vote for a fake Democrat who will vote Republican in the House or the Senate than to elect people who will stand up for them. Democrats are so stupid that I'm embarrassed to say that I'm a Democrat!"

To the degree that The Democratic party of the late 20th Century was bamboozled in the 2000 election, I find my self in agreement with my tutor. This old party still appears to be wandering around in the wilderness, lost without a map to the 21st century. For example, why have progressives failed to use RADIO to counter the propaganda flowing daily from right wing talk shows? Why on earth should commercial radio be a right-wing propaganda bonanza?

My challenge to my tutor is this: How do we invent a 21st Century Democratic party? The first step is exposing the disciplined cell of revolutionaries who have captured control of the U.S. government while George W. Bush sleeps. The next step is proposing some ideas on how we can limit the damage they can do until the next election gives us the chance to vote them out of office.