There's a tweetstorm volleying back and forth about whether Cindy Pugh is extreme (one example here). The endorsed Republican candidate in Minnesota House District 33B, Pugh is challenging Representative Steve Smith, the longest sitting Republican in the state house. Speaker Zellers just endorsed the challenger to a member of his caucus.
Tabling with Bradlee Dean; listening to Birchers
To judge by the parade of speakers in the videos online at the SW Metro Tea Party that she played a key role in founding, yes.
Avidor found Photos of SW Metro Tea Party Activists Tabling at Screening of Bradlee Dean's "My War" back in early 2011. Bluestem has looked at the Southwest Metro Tea Party sponsorship of a Bradlee Dean & Jake "McMillian" MacAulay movie night. Since then, there have been anti-Agenda 21 presentations, John Birch Society nights, and Idaho's own Curtis Bowers, just between he traipsed off to Browerville to Tea Party with Mary Franson and friends.
Curtis Bowers' extreme source material
The video of the Curtis Bowers presentation is online now at the SW Metro Tea Party site. The video isn't embeddable, but the extremism is, well, extreme. Early in the presentation, Bowers credits Cleon Skousen's "The Naked Communist" as a credible source. In 2009, Salon checked out the man who changed Glenn Beck’s life:
During his stint as police chief, Skousen began laying the groundwork for his future career as a professional anti-communist. He published a bestselling expose-slash-history called “The Naked Communist.” In the late ’50s, America’s far right began to bubble with organizations peddling stories about the true state of the Red Menace. Groups like the Church League of America and the John Birch Society organized to channel, feed and satisfy Cold War paranoia. . . .
After his firing from the police force, Skousen became a star on the profitable far-right speakers circuit. He worked for both the Bircher-operated American Opinion Speakers Bureau and Fred Schwarz’s Christian Anti-Communism Crusade. The two groups competed in describing ever more terrifying threats posed by America’s enemies, foreign and domestic. As the scenarios became more and more outlandish, the feds grew concerned. In an internal memo, the FBI described Skousen’s friend and employer Fred Schwarz as “an opportunist,” the likes of which “are largely responsible for misinforming people and stirring them up emotionally … Schwartz [sic] and others like him can only do the country and the anticommunist work of the Bureau harm.” . . .
How did Skousen become an expert on communism? He claimed, as his apologists still do, that his years with the FBI exposed him to inside information. He also boasted that he worked closely with J. Edgar Hoover. But both claims are open to question. Skousen’s work at the Bureau was largely administrative, according to Ernie Lazar, an independent researcher of the far right who has examined Skousen’s nearly 2,000-page FBI file. “Skousen never worked in [the domestic intelligence division] and he never had significant exposure to data concerning communist matters,” says Lazar. . . .
When Skousen’s books started popping up in the nation’s high-school classrooms, panicked school board officials wrote the FBI asking if Skousen was reliable. The Bureau’s answer was an exasperated and resounding “no.” One 1962 FBI memo notes, “During the past year or so, Skousen has affiliated himself with the extreme right-wing ‘professional communists’ who are promoting their own anticommunism for obvious financial purposes.” Skousen’s “The Naked Communist,” said the Bureau official, is “another example of why a sound, scholarly textbook on communism is urgently and badly needed.” . . .
Another intellectual source for Bowers, who gained notoriety when, as an partial-term appointed Idaho state representative? In McCarthy, Born Again and Retooled for Our Time, Religious Dispatches' Susan Posner reports on another Tea Party favorite, David Noebel, whose Summit Ministries shaped Bowers' worldview.
Posner outlines Noebel's views:
Noebel, now 74, is a relic: a culture warrior who preceded Falwell; a crusader who helped build the earliest Christian right organizations that worked closely with the John Birch Society in defining America as a Christian, capitalist nation while Glenn Beck was still in diapers; or, in Noebel’s own words “a Goldwater Republican before anyone had heard of Barry Goldwater.” His rantings about “the Reds” peg him as a bit of a Cold War artifact, and his conspiratorial claims about the designs of the Democrats are reminiscent of John Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s assertion that President Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Noebel told me, in reference to Obama, that he prefers Stanley Kurtz’s Radical in Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism to D’Souza, but ultimately “they end up in the same ballpark.”
Noebel, or “Doc” as his devotees call him, is the doyen of Summit Ministries, the Manitou Springs, Colorado-based institution founded in 1962 to teach evangelical teens about anti-God, anti-Christian threats to the “Christian worldview” and the American way of life. In his seminal textbook, Understanding the Times, Noebel lays out six “worldviews”—Christianity, Islam, secular humanism, Marxism-Leninism, cosmic humanism, and post-modernism—vying for domination in the world. By his own estimate he has educated 30,000 teenagers at his one and two-week conferences at Summit in Colorado and its outposts around the world (including at Oxford) about the evils of atheism, communism, socialism, and other anti-God “statist” worldviews that threaten to destroy America—unless Christians step in to save every soul.
Noebel’s conferences, lauded by religious right figures like James Dobson as a life-saving antidote to the fallen world that tempts our wayward teens, represent just a fraction of his reach. His teaching materials are widely used in homeschool curricula, and Summit is developing more materials to start children as early as first grade on a diet of his collision-of-worldviews thesis. That framework forms the basis for his conspiracy-minded theories about American progressives, the Democratic Party, and what Noebel depicts as a fifth column right inside the US Congress led by “hardcore socialist” Nancy Pelosi.
Noebel’s influence can be seen in the work of a Summit alumnus who answered the Christian Right call for evangelicals to create their own media and entertainment enterprises to replace secular ones. Noebel makes an appearance in the propaganda film Agenda: Grinding America Down, produced by former Idaho state legislator Curtis Bowers, who recently won the Christian Reconstructionist San Antonio Christian Film Festival. As a youth, Bowers and his family spent summers at Summit, which he described recently as “such a valuable and important thing that was helping turn America back to God and the Bible;” as an adult he opened a restaurant in Manitou Springs.
After being appointed to the Idaho legislature in 2007, Bowers wrote a column titled “Communist agenda makes its way to our mainstream,” that roiled the state, arguing that feminists seek to have children raised by government programs, environmentalists sought to destroy business, and that “the homosexual movement” would “extinguish” our “heritage of religion and morality.”
“When we see many mainstream politicians and activist judges with the same agenda that just 16 years ago was that of Communist strategists,” he wrote, “it is time for patriotic Americans to wake up and get involved.”
Bowers asserted in a recent interview on the Christian Worldview radio program (which is sponsored by Summit) that communists wanted moral decay because it has “allowed them to expand government the way they want to as they are striving to have a socialist type government that controls everything!”
“There really is an enemy inside America that is being incredibly successful,” the Summit alumnus concluded, “and we don’t even realize it.”
Pugh: cheerleading the extreme
Bowers is channeling another generation's extremism. And if Bowers were an outlier among speakers for Pugh's group, this might not be an issue for someone hoping to serve in the Minnesota legislature. But Pugh consorts not just with Bowers, but Bradlee Dean, the local JBS leader and others pushing a radical agenda.
Instead, her supporters' claims that she's just a nice conservative lady without a bad bone in her body is a distraction from that agenda.Her endorsement over Smith--who is endorsed by the state chamber of commerce--signals how moderates continue to be forced from the ranks of the Republican Party of Minnesota.
Zellers' wrote in his endorsement, "A vote for Cindy is a vote for the principles that make us conservative.” Sadly, those principles among South West Metro Tea Party Republicans are paranoia, McCarthyism and pure nincompoopery.
Photo: Cindy Pugh, cheerleader for American extremists tabling at a Bradlee Dean movie "premiere," via Dump Bachmann (above); Curtis Bowers, that Agenda dude (below).
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