Saturday, April 18, 2009

Return of the Black Helicopters

So, it ain’t enough that folks go into the streets this week to protest whatever it was they were protesting (stories vary – some folks didn’t want to see imaginary taxes raised; some folks didn’t want to saddle their future generations with imaginary debt; some folks didn’t want our nation to fall into the hands of imaginary socialists, communists, atheists; or any other anti-American-“ist” they could think of; and many folks wanted to take their imaginary country back from the folks who won very real democratic and free elections….).

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?



Dante said...

I'm getting a little sick of the liberal disconnect between what YOU are being taxes vs. what is being taxed. I'm still below any group that is getting a tax hike but there is such a group getting their income tax raised and I'm not at all in favor of it. And there are many other people out there of that same mindset. Apparently, it's a thought that completely baffles the average liberal. From Pat here (remeber Pat's confusion in an earlier post on why people are protesting when he got a tax break) to the downright obnoxious CNN reporter, they just can't comprehend that even when an individual is getting a tax break they might be opposed to raising taxes on another group. Sometimes when a group is getting unfairly targeted, it's worth protesting. Even when you're not in the specific group being targeted. Then again, what was the deal with all those non-Jew protesters? They weren't getting shipped off to camps.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I'm getting a little sick of the liberal disconnect between what YOU are being taxes vs. what is being taxed.Strange, I was getting sick of the same conservative disconnect on this issue. The vast majority of conservatives I interact with aren't worried about the taxes on the wealthy going from 36% to 39%.

They are worried about their taxes going up. This was also evidenced in the tea party protests, as even children were carrying signs about the government not rasiing their taxes. "Don't tax me, bro." That's not evidence that they're sharing some sort of solidarity with the rich. Otherwise, they'd be carrying "solidarity" signs.

I'll not even mention the anti-socialism/anti-communism parts of that protest.

The CNN reporter, while apparently overwhelmed with her assignment, started getting snarky when the interviewee started talking about "liberty" at what was billed as a tax protest.

patsbrother said...
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Eric said...
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Dante said...

Your "evidence" that the protesters their personal taxes going up is a sign that's nothing but a pop culture reference? If you really believe "Don't tax me, bro!" is solid evidence, then you need to pull your head out of your party's mascot.

"The CNN reporter, while apparently overwhelmed with her assignment, started getting snarky when the interviewee started talking about "liberty" at what was billed as a tax protest."

Yeah, well what part of the protest caused MSNBC to rename themselves MSTBAG? I don't know about black helicopters but a mainstream media outlet spending so much time outright making fun of people protesting taxes and spending doesn't do much to help the perception of a liberal media bias.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Plenty of pictures, and it sure looks like folks are protesting taxes on themselves. The pop culture refrence was the one that stuck out to me, the rest of my evidence is based on pictures that I've seen on blogs, Fox News, and what I've heard on the radio and from people.

Where, exactly, is the footage of folks protesting the taxes on the richest 1% of Americans increasing to Clinton-era levels?

I mean, if there was a plan to go back to Ford & Carter era levels, I could see that, but from 36 to 39? Not so fast my friend.

We're still in fantasyland.

patsbrother said...

For what it's worth...

According to Rasmussen Reports (which traditionally comes closest to accurately predicting the results of elections of national significance), 51% of Americans viewed the Tea Party demonstrations favorably. (32% viewed them very favorably.)

This, despite major media outlets belittling the subjects of their coverage.

Article is available at