Canada should be invading us any day now

A conservative writer continues making outlandish claims, but is embraced by mainstream Republicans anyway

Published September 22, 2009 8:35PM (EDT)

When last we met World Net Daily columnist Janet Porter, she was passing along an e-mail that supposedly related a 1992 conversation indicating that President Obama was a Soviet mole, then being groomed to continue the Communists' work. Before that, Porter -- who served as co-chair of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign's Faith and Values Coalition -- was warning Christians that anyone who voted for Obama over John McCain risked eternity in Hell. Before that, it was anyone who voted for McCain over Huckabee who was treading perilously close to damnation.

In her latest column, Porter's warning that the situation in the U.S. today is all too reminiscent of the Nazis' rise to power in Austria in the 1930's. (There are some serious historical problems with the column, but we'll get to that later.)

In a more normal political environment, this would just be a list of writing by one of thousands of people who've taken advantage of the ease and low cost of Internet publishing to get their various conspiracy theories out in the ether. But Porter's far more influential than that, and not just because of WND's rather large audience. She played that role in Huckabee's presidential campaign, of course. And now she's organizing the How to Take Back America Conference, which is happening in St. Louis this weekend -- the column is largely an advertisement for it. Among the planned speakers at the conference, from a list Porter provided in her piece:

Gov. Mike Huckabee, "Joe the Plumber," U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Steve King, R-Iowa, Tom McClintock, R-Calif., Dr. Tom Price, R-Ga.

Porter is co-chair of the conference, along with Phyllis Schlafly. The host committee includes WND Editor-in-Chief Joseph Farah, who's done more than anyone, with the possible exception of Orly Taitz, to keep the Birther flame alive. And yet all these people will be showing up and speaking at the conference. True, the really big stars of the Republican Party aren't among the names, but it's not a list of pikers, either. Huckabee came surprisingly close to capturing the GOP's presidential nomination last year, Price chairs the Republican Study Committee, which is the House's conservative caucus, and Bachmann, Franks and King are fairly high-profile as well.

You might think that these people would be embarrassed to attend a conference co-chaired by Porter, given her writings. Certainly it'd be fair to expect at least a little hesitation on the part of senior members of the House GOP about a conference with workshops like "How to recognize living under Nazis & Communists." "How to defeat attacks on sovereignty by UN treaties" and "How to defeat Con Con, National Popular Vote, ERA." (The "Con Con," short for constitutional convention, is an obsession of the John Birch Society.)

Not so, obviously.

Maybe the saddest part of Porter's column, though -- it would be pretty funny if it weren't so sad -- is the sheer ignorance of history on display. The piece is titled "Austria in the '30s: Mirror to America;" in it, Porter writes of another speaker at the conference:

Kitty was 12 years old when Adolf Hitler was elected fuhrer of Austria.

She is 83 with a "vivid memory" of what happened in her homeland next. She witnessed the government take over the banks and the auto industry. Sound familiar? In the last nine months, Obama and the Democrats in Congress have successfully orchestrated the government takeover of Chrysler and General Motors along with countless banks.

She witnessed the "compulsory youth" service and indoctrination. That sounds a little like Obama's call for "mandatory volunteerism" for America's youth ....

They had Joseph Goebbels; we have Mark Lloyd, the diversity czar, who is already poised to shut down private radio stations.

The key problem here? Porter wants to draw a parallel between Obama's presidency and the Nazi takeover in Austria -- but she's thinking of Germany, not Austria, and doesn't seem to realize that Austria was a separate country until after Hitler had assumed total control in Germany. The takeover of Austria was accomplished through the Anschluss, which was the German annexation of the country. And the vote that was held was a sham plebiscite asking Austrians whether they wanted to be annexed, not asking them to vote for the führer personally. (Hitler already had that title in Germany.)

For Porter's attempt at an analogy to actually succeed, she'd have to be writing about Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper becoming a dictator there and then sending troops down to the U.S. with plans to make this country part of Canada.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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