Now, these folks have another bone to chew on that feeds their paranoid psychoses. It feeds straight into the “imaginary anti-American” mythology, that somehow, folks like me are Godless communists sitting around sharpening our knives getting ready to send the government after them. That’s why all my conservative friends jump when I say “boo.”
So what is the new “evidence?” What is the latest rumbling from the new government that has Oliver North, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck et al apoplectic with popping veins?
This DHS report on right-wing extremism.
Some will call it a “nine page screed against phantoms” (some heady words from the side of the gallery that calls the current government “communist”), and downplay the memos from the last 8 years who point to left wing groups, foreign groups, and said the same things about right wing groups.
Because, remember, only Democratic administrations are un-American and would use this information against people.
Sticking points include a repeated mantra that somewhere in this report, it warns that military veterans, 2nd amendment advocates and members of the anti-choice movement are likely suspects for domestic terrorism. I’ve heard this said on the TV, the radio, in print and on the webs.
If you read the actual report, however, it says none of those things. What the report does say is that:
“Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts”
“Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.”
The report then lists several factors that these extremist groups will attempt to exploit to grow their organizations, including - but not limited to - the economic and political climate, the presidential election, illegal immigration and any future change to gun control laws. The report does not say people who are simply unhappy with these things are likely terrorists, it says that likely terrorists will attempt to appeal and recruit individuals who are unhappy with these things.
The report also outlines the similarities in right wing extremism now and the historical bridge to right wing extremism in the 1990’s. And though many pundits and conventional wisdom have tried to convince us for the past 8 years that terrorists only come from Middle Eastern countries, we would do well to remember where the biggest threats came from during that decade.
The most controversial passages of the report deal with returning military veterans: “Rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.” It does not say that returning veterans are likely to become terrorists, it says that likely terrorists will attempt to recruit returning veterans.
The report also states that both rightwing extremists – and law abiding Americans – will likely make bulk purchases of guns and ammunition in the coming year. This is perhaps the most important point of the whole 10 page document. As the report was written for the audience of law enforcement, it makes sense to put this in the report. It also makes sense considering recent events where law enforcement has found themselves in shootouts.
So, almost all of the items news pundits are getting angry about are incorrect interpretations of this report. The best reaction I have seen comes from conservative blogger DADVocate, who points out the actual flaws in this report by pointing out the flawed prose of the thing, and poking fun of the breadth and general nature of the report by making “you might be a terrorist” jokes (like Jeff Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck” jokes).
Speaking to those particular, and more valid issues, I can only think that DHS wrote the report in such a way because it had to be readable by many, many, many different individuals in many different branches of law enforcement in many different locations. The generalizations of the report I also think were used to remind or inform law enforcement agencies of the climate in the 1990’s as it pertained to right wing extremist groups. When lessons are learned in law enforcement, it pays to repeat and repeat, no matter who gets offended.
I find it interesting that the folks who defended profiling throughout the last 8 years get upset when the shoe is put on the other foot. Don't say we didn't warn you, because you responded by calling us crazy if not treasonous. Now, you're demanding more nuance in report writing.
Besides, we have a lot of new agents and officers out there who saw 9/11 but may not remember Oklahoma City, Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Unabomber, the Atlanta Olympics, or Eric Rudolph.
After the whole “Osama Bin Laden determined to attack within the United States” memo controversy, who can blame DHS for erring on the side of caution?