Two Texans landed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of thirty members of the radical right to watch, published in the summer issue of the center’s Intelligence Report.
Both David Barton, of Aledo, and Alex Jones, of Austin, earned spots on the center’s list of leaders of the radical right who are “distorting our democracy.”
The group slammed David Barton, an evangelical minster and former co-chair of the Texas Republican Party, for believing that “the founding fathers intended only Christians to hold office” and declaring that gay people die “decades earlier” than straight people. Barton, who landed on Time‘s 2005 list of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals,” has advised a number of prominent Republican politicians, including Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Mike Huckabee.
“The scary thing about David Barton is that he has the ear of so many,” the report said. SPLC also found fault with his role in “bowdlerizing” Texas social studies curriculum by pushing to cut all references to Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez from textbooks.
Proud conspiracy theorist Alex Jones uses his radio show and websites as a “tumultuous showcase for his overactive imagination, which is governed by logic-leaping deductions and heedless pronouncements,” the report says. In his “red-faced,” on-air tirades, Jones aims to expose “the forces that threaten to enslave all human life on the planet.” What should we be worried about, in Jones’s mind? “[E]ugenics operations, the militarization of the police, a cabal of wealthy corporations and the United Nations involved in a fiendish plot to control the world.”
Among Jones’s other beliefs? The federal government was involved in the 9/11 attacks, OKC bombing, and the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And he seems to be churning out new theories by the day: “Although it hardly seems possible, Jones’ fecund imagination now seems to be sprouting even more conspiracy theories than before.”
Barton and Jones are leaders at a time when the American radical right is in flux. “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,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “At the same time, there has been explosive growth in several sectors of the radical right, especially in the last few years, much of it driven by anger over the diminishing white majority … and the severe dislocations caused by a still-ailing economy.” Among the ascendant groups are those with anti-Muslim and anti-gay agendas as well as Patriot groups who hone their criticism in on the federal government.