A Look at 30 Extremists Who Want to Destroy America

In a new intelligence report, the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Thirty key leaders of the American radical right. Their list includes “anti-government activists, racist neo-Nazis and propagandists who promote falsehoods about Muslims and the LGBT community” who have “emerged over the past decade as the radical right has changed in major ways. These extremists are making headway by exploiting anger over the nation’s ailing economy, non-white immigration and the shrinking white majority.”

The last decade has seen major changes in the American radical right. What was once a world largely dominated by a few relatively well-organized groups has become a scene populated by large numbers of smaller, weaker groups, with only a handful led by the kind of charismatic chieftains that characterized the 1990s.

Forearmed is forewarned: these are names liberals and progressives must be aware of as we battle through a tide of hate to Election Day. And we must know not only these names but what they represent, for each of them has followers. All of these people are scary; some more than others. SPLC reports that “Most dramatically, so-called ‘Patriot’ groups — which, unlike most hate groups, see the federal government as their primary enemy — have grown explosively in just the last three years, going from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,274 last year. As a result of all these developments and others, a new crop of leaders has come to the fore. Some are longtime activists of the radical right, but others have become active only in recent years.”

The more diverse (religiously and ethnically) and socially liberal America becomes (in matters of abortion and marriage equality, for example), the more extreme they become in reaction, the more extreme their tone, the more violent their rhetoric (see Michael Fumento’s account of his break with the extreme right at Salon).

Take a gander at SPLC’s list:

Virginia Abernethy

Chuck Baldwin

David Barton

Don Black

Michael Boldin

Michael L. Brown

Kevin J. DeAnna

Tom DeWeese

David Duke

Lou Engle

Joseph Francis Farah

Bryan Fischer

Frank Gaffney

Pamela Geller

Morris L. Gulett

Michael Hill

Alex E. Jones

Cliff Kincaid

Randal Lee Krager

Alex Linder

Kevin MacDonald

Jason “Molotov” Mitchell

Elmer Stewart Rhodes

Kyle Rogers

Malik Zulu Shabazz

Samuel Jared Taylor

James Timothy Turner

Michael Brian Vanderboegh

Pastor John Weaver

David Yerushalmi

There are some familiar names on this list, people we have looked at here on PoliticusUSA, including David Barton, David Duke, Lou Engle, Joseph Francis Farah, Bryan Fischer, Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller.

Let’s start with a perfectly loathsome individual, a guy who just went on record as saying he doesn’t care what the Supreme Court says, homosexuality should be illegal. SPLC says of David Barton,

The scary thing about David Barton is that he has the ear of so many. He is a former co-chairman of the Texas Republican Party, a one-time consultant to the Republican National Committee, and an adviser at various times to Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee. Last year, Huckabee said he wished all Americans could be “forced — forced at gunpoint no less — to listen to every David Barton message.” Former Fox News conspiracy-monger Glenn Beck uses Barton to teach history at Beck’s “university.”

At least as scary is that so few liberals and progressives are aware of who Barton is and what he represents, even though, as SPLC reminds us,”In 2010, Barton joined the battle to bowdlerize the Texas social studies curriculum for public schools, supporting efforts to excise Martin Luther King Jr. and 1960s farmworker activist Cesar Chavez from textbooks. As reported by Washington Monthly, Barton said King didn’t deserve to be included for advancing minority rights because “[o]nly majorities can expand political rights.”

It is hardly coincidental that neither King nor Chavez were White Evangelicals like Barton.

Lou Engle, “a senior member of a radical Christian movement called the New Apostolic Reformation, which seeks to unite Protestants, vanquish demons, and evangelize the planet,” was mentioned here just the other day in my examination of fundamentalism’s Satan-obsession. SPLC says of Engle:

In recent years, thanks largely to his leadership of TheCall Ministries, Lou Engle has become one of the more prominent players on the American religious right. A zealous opponent of abortion and LGBT rights, he has called homosexuality a “spirit of lawlessness,” suggested that it should be criminalized, and spoken at a highly controversial rally in Uganda where speakers backed a bill authorizing the death penalty for gay men and lesbians in some circumstances.

Engle also has some political clout, namely in the form of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who, significantly, was the only governor to rush to Rick Perry’s side at his extremist prayer rally in Houston, The Response. He is a big player in the anti-Muslim movement: “He’s also taken time out from his core issues to suggest that Muslims are ‘fueling the demonic realm’ and in the thrall of “spiritual dark powers.” Last November, as Leah Burton profiled here, Engle held an anti-Muslim Detroit prayer rally (more a hate fest) so that ‘”the love of Jesus would break in on Muslims all across this area.'”

Notable on the list is a man many of us like to mock (admittedly, he makes it easy to do), Joseph Francis Farah:

Conspiracy theory buffs need an endless supply of fuel to keep chugging along. And no one out there seems to provide more of that than Joseph Farah, the archconservative and slightly mad publisher/editor of WorldNetDaily (WND). From obsessively attempting to debunk the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate to stoking anti-Muslim fear that Shariah law is about to topple the Constitution, Farah is the supermarket tabloid publisher of the radical right.

Farah is of course a die-hard Birther and as the SPLC notes, he even questioned the “birth of Sen. Marco Rubio in early 2012, when the Florida Republican was mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate. ‘Rubio is not eligible,’ Farah told Fox News host Sean Hannity.”

Farah is so hard-line in certain views that he’s perfectly willing to turn on fellow ideologues of the far right. In 2010, when right-wing raver Ann Coulter agreed to speak at a gay GOP group’s event, he attacked her. In return, Coulter called Farah a “publicity whore” and “fake Christian” — what may be some of the few truly accurate phrases to ever come out of Coulter’s mouth.

Bryan Fischer should be at the top of any watch-list. His extremist cred is nearly unparalleled. Even Newsweek noticed, in January 2011 calling him “the media’s new poster boy for right-wing extremism.”

Just look at some of what SPLC’s has to say about this bigot-king:

Bryan Fischer, a nationally syndicated Christian radio host, has a long history of anti-gay activism. In 2009, he began garnering national attention after he was hired by the American Family Association (AFA), which the Southern Poverty Law Center listed as an anti-gay hate group in 2010. Since joining the AFA as director of issue analysis for government and public policy, Fischer has used the group’s website and its radio network to promote outrageous and false claims about LGBT people, Muslims, Native Americans and African Americans. Despite Fischer’s extreme views – like blaming gay men for the Holocaust, calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, and calling for the banning of Muslim immigration to the U.S. – prominent conservatives continue to appear on Fischer’s radio show.


The horrific event that propelled him onto the national stage was the November 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in which Major Nidal Hasan shot 12 people to death. In response, Fischer called for the U.S. military to ban Muslims. His statements landed him soon after on former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person” list.

Since then, Fischer has called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., said that inbreeding may have affected Muslim intelligence and sanity, and claimed that the Bill of Rights grants freedom of religion only to Christians. He has also continued his virulent anti-gay propagandizing, calling for the regulation of homosexuality in the same manner the U.S. regulates cigarettes, and said that homosexuality should be as illegal as IV drug use, and that, “Ultimately we need to get to appropriate sanctions for the act [of gay sex] itself.”

Because of his hate-filled rhetoric, Fischer has found himself a major influence over Republican politicians. As SPLC observes, “none of his antics have stopped the stream of notable conservative guests from appearing on his show. His guests have included a number of high-profile politicians, including Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich.” Pawlenty, Bachmann and Gingrich all campaigned for the office of President of the United States. Americans should pay close attention to who these people are talking to and associating with.

But so often liberals and progressives shrug and say, “what does it matter what he/she thinks?” or “Why are we talking about this?” or words to that effect. We are talking about these people because they have political clout. They are influencing Republican politicians, some of them at the highest level, and are driving the hate and bigotry that has come to embody the GOP. It is not only important that we talk about these people, it is essential. The danger they pose is real. It is easy to laugh at them and to joke at their expense, but people once laughed at Hitler too, and it was Hitler who was later able to say, “Those who were laughing then are not laughing now.”

No, they weren’t. And I for one would like to be the one doing the laughing later, which means taking them seriously now. SPLC published this watch list for a reason: they understand the threat posed by these thirty extremists. I hope all liberals and progressives will wake up and recognize that threat as well.

27 Replies to “A Look at 30 Extremists Who Want to Destroy America”

  1. In fact, Hitler meant they were no longer laughing because they were dead.

    These people are dangerous exactly because they are fanatics. Fanatics don’t go by the rules of rational people. To a fanatic, words and deeds acknowledged to be reprehensible in anyone else are justifiable in the fanatic’s cause. Fanatics do not believe in equal standards, because *they are right and everyone else is wrong*. Everything is justified to procure “the triumph of right”. Everything, however mild or rational, is “evil” which impedes it. Consequently, the only “fair” standard is one which favors their side alone.

    The presstitutes have acceded to this, and not just out of fat-cat solidarity. If the fanatics lose, after all, non-fanatics will not punish them. If fanatics win, all who oppose them are in danger of annihilation. It’s rather like (I think) Pascal’s wager, where you must kiss the ass of a vengeful God, lest he exist.

    Thank you for your continued pursuit of this subject. I don’t know how you do it. I’d have to be twenty years younger and primed with equal parts Cuban coffee and Spanish tinto to do it.

  2. SPLC doesn’t take lightly “listing” people; they are actually quite through and ponder the data considerably before deciding to release…after all, they are attorneys and know how important it is to get it right before releasing information.

    They also know that they are the “Hater’nations” worst nightmare. The hate groups actually give SPLC “credit” of sorts for being accurate and through as their enemy. There is a actual picture of a Klansman SPL brought to trial with a tat on the side of his head with a phrase about SPLC as their enemy…so, these people know once their on the list, it is only a matter of time before they are “caught” or permanently on the lamb…

    We “give” to SPL because they are constantly in need of funds to prosecute the “Hater’nation” as most of their victims are just that; victims with little resources to fight back against the evil…now that they’ve added the fundies to the list, things might start “escalating” in the right direction.

  3. People have to remember that when one group of citizens are criminalized, any group can be criminalized.

    These people make a living from attacking people who are not like them. Is that American? One only has to listen to these people to fill in the blanks of what life under their kind would be like. And the GOP is following (or using) these people right off the cliff.

    Consider the influence these people will have in a GOP administration. Consider the impact of these people tied in with Mormon prejudice on Americans of color, or differing lifestyles. Then consider how “normal” Americans will also have to be kept in line with the religious dogma of these people to ensure that you never think outside their box.

  4. The list tends to get longer and longer. Hate spreads like rumors, lies, and innuendos gathering up so many like magnets attracting metals.

    If only truth travelled at such speeds and had magnetic appeal. Thank you SPLC for the courageous work that you do.

  5. They get it right every time? Yeah, right….. tell that to Sheriff Richard Mack who is suing those shakedown artist’s asses. The radical left SPLC has been discredited over and over again. They are and have been using fear mongering as a means to boost contributions for years and anyone with half a brain knows it.

  6. Talk about a fear-monger and a radical!

    Macks sues everybody and never wins. Graham County AZ is an arm pit with two back water towns and a prison…it’s a drive-thru back road between Phoenix and Tuscon that locals use when the 10 is backed up or under construction. It’s not even on the border he pretended to “protect”. He left in disgrace as I recall…

    He’s an Oath Keeper who make his living on the “militia tour” as a speaker (almost 20 years now)…he hasn’t been in law enforcement since he was voted out in 96′ and promptly moved to Utah right after his lose! Now he’s trying to get himself elected in some hole in Texas…

    He’s not the first of his kind to claim “I’m’a’suin’them lairs at SPL” nor will he be the last. His evidence is his “word” against what they’ve reported, which to all accounts is accurate.

    See for yourself:




    (I hate wasting precious time on trolls who come up with this crap…but, I’m glad he opened his maw so more readers can have information about Mack and add him to the “Hater’nation” list)

  7. Well, you have a good imagination. Show us where they’ve been “discredited over and over again”

  8. Most if not all of these people are scarcely a threat to the United States. Sorry, but they aren’t. The ones who really ARE a threat are people like the Koch Brothers, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg and others who are hellbent on destroying the country for profit. They are buying off politicians in both political parties to privatize the public good for profit. THIS is the real danger this country is facing.

  9. D. Porter,
    Most anyone whose anyone knows SPL funding comes through Foundation grants. funding. Foundation money is not easy to come by. Foundations are hard to sell and there is a lot of competion. SPL earns it. Hope ya’ll donate a buck for the Gipper! SHCCC

  10. They are the other side of the coin. In the southern states many of these people that are mentioned in this article are most definitely a threat to this country. They are not religious people in the manner of which you are thinking of real religious. They are fundamentalists who would have no problem with locking you up in a heartbeat for not following their Christian dogma. They have latched onto quite a few of the Republican candidates for president( former candidates I should say) and they are influential with many of your representatives. Look around the country and see where these laws are coming from concerning women’s rights. Much of them are coming from these fundamentalist in the Catholic Church. Yes they are most certainly a threat.

  11. Wow, Your description of these ‘fringe fanatics’ sounds like Scott Walker…his Dad was a Pastor as well.
    Great Article Hrafnkell!

  12. HH you are a man after my own heart. I totally agree with you you that we need to pay attention to these people. They are dangerous and have been building their coalition for years. They are so far ahead of liberals and mainline christians it would take a few years just to try to catch up to them. I see people in the US doing exactly what the Germans did in the run up to Hitler taking power. It was easier to go along ratherr than take up arms when it might have been easier to rid the country of Hitler the disease. No good can come of a regime like the Nazis as has been proven before. I write at Leah’s blog and Planet Pov about these people and even at those places I sometimes feel like people are tired of hearing it. But too bad for them because as long as those blogs are open to my posts, I am going to write over and over again.

    A few people left out here though:

    Donald Wildmon
    Howard Ahmansonony
    Phillip Anschutz
    Tony Perkins
    Phyllis Schafley
    Foster Friesse
    DeMoss(he works on Romney campaign – owns business that caters to christian people only) How is that for a start on fascism? Here is a link to the piece I wrote on the CNP. I think if you read it you will see how serious I am about outing these people.


  13. Tony

    There are different levels of threat. While these people may not be as rich as the people you mention, these people hold the keys to the megachurches around the country where families go on a sunday morning to get their coffee and jesus. They are part of a big family and that is powerful stuff. They also have deep pockets when it comes to politicians. Don’t take them lightly.

  14. Great – now I get to google ‘Spanish tinto’. Learn something new every day. Thanks again!

  15. My free-wheeling, though non-smoking, hippie Wiccan mother, insists that there are no victims – only volunteers. With that in mind, I have to assert my opinion that those who claim victim status are wimps, and those who confer it upon others are tyrants. Just sayin.

  16. Activism is crucial to democratic endeavor – most eligible voters are sheep. If one wants something done, changed, or initiated, one must have a grassroots movement behind them. As a wonderful woman once said: “Never believe that a small dedicated group of people cannot get anything done; in fact nothing ever gets done any other way…”
    (If I had the exact quote, I would have given the wonderful woman credit for same, but it escapes me.)

  17. Volunteers? Sounds like she’s led a very protected, insular life.

    I used to hear that crap from the dominionists. I don’t go around them any more unless I’m forced to, and I don’t listen to their lies.

    Tell that to the little girls and boys some of the dominionist “ministers” (maybe most) have raped.

    I dare you to call them “volunteers”.

  18. Just because someone’s a Wiccan doesn’t mean they can’t manage to be dumb as a rock. It may take the will of two to battle, but only of one to murder; the decision of two to make love, but only of one to rape; the intent of to to transfer a gift, but only of one to rob the other. When Hitler took over eastern Poland and the Baltic states, Einsatzgruppen, unwilling to waste bullets on such puny targets, backed dumptrucks up to fiery trenches and dumped loads of squalling toddlers and babies into the flames. Had those infants volunteered? Your mother thought like a smug greenhorn. I hope she did not teach you too well.

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