The Shameful RightPosted: August 8, 2012
I’ve been trying to wrap my mind about this issue for a few days. I remember the reaction to the DHS report released a few years back and the
one briefing released in May of this year. The right went ballistic because of the profile that was given of the likely domestic terror threat. I guess it sounded a little too much or way too much like them and stuff they worship and do themselves. Let me refer to a 2009 Fox News (sic) report: “Chorus of Protest Grows Over Report Warning of Right Wing Radicalization”.
The government considers you a terrorist threat if you oppose abortion, own a gun or are a returning war veteran.
That’s what House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Wednesday in response to a Department of Homeland Security report warning of the rise of right-wing extremist groups.
Smith, who said the report on “right-wing extremism” amounts to “political profiling,” said that DHS is “using people’s political views to assess an individual’s susceptibility to terror recruitment.” He joins a growing chorus of protest from irate conservative groups that are protesting the report’s findings.
The report, titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” released last week by DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis, said while there is no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are planning acts of violence, it suggests acts of violence could come from unnamed “rightwing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, abortion, increasing federal power and restrictions on firearms — and it singles out returning war veterans as susceptible to recruitment.
A senior Republican Judiciary Committee aide tells FOX News that the Obama administration “should immediately retract the report and apologize,” saying that according to the report, pro-lifers, anyone who lost their jobs or are one of the thousands of military veterans who have fought to prevent another 9/11 could be suspect.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the report Wednesday, saying it is part of an ongoing series of assessments to provide information to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on “violent radicalization” in the United States.
“Let me be clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States,” Napolitano said in a statement. “We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.”
Yes. Every time we try to discuss this issue, the right’s propaganda machine starts churning and their cronies in congress start the pearl clutching and the jingoism. You can read more about this kind of thing in an article at The Atlantic called: Why Why the Reaction Is Different When the Terrorist Is White” by Conor Friedersdorf. The major difference to me is that Right Wing Republicans in this country actually encourage these groups. They try to tell us that abortion is some kind of holocaust that’s equivalent to Pearl Harbor or the actual holocaust. They scream about how bad guys could be taken down only if more people carried guns around and were prepared to shoot. They rail about how ‘evil’ our government is and how it’s everything that’s wrong with the country. They use the adjectives ‘foreign’, Muslim, ‘not American, and Kenyan born when discussing the current POTUS. They question the loyalty of state department employees and demand they be investigated as potential radical Islamic moles. They tweet obvious racial dog whistles. They say horrible things about women and imply they should be raped, beaten, or worse for not doing the ‘right’ things. Of course, these enablers don’t recognize violent, homegrown terrorist when they see them. They are a vital part of their grassroots any more. They probably see them at their rallies all the time and don’t even know or care who they are as long as the election turns out well.
Instead Wade Michael Page was the gunman.
Attacks like his are disconcerting to some white Americans for a seldom acknowledged reason. Since 9/11, many Americans have conflated terrorism with Muslims; and having done so, they’ve tolerated or supported counterterrorism policies safe in the presumption that people unlike them would bear their brunt. (If Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD sent officers beyond the boundaries of New York City to secretly spy on evangelical Christian students or Israeli students or students who own handguns the national backlash would be swift, brutal, and decisive. The revelation of secret spying on Muslim American students was mostly defended or ignored.)
In the name of counterterrorism, many Americans have given their assent to indefinite detention, the criminalization of gifts to certain charities, the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens, and a sprawling, opaque homeland security bureaucracy; many have also advocated policies like torture or racial profiling that are not presently part of official anti-terror policy.
What if white Americans were as likely as Muslims to be victimized by those policies? What if the sprawling national security bureaucracy we’ve created starts directing attention not just to Muslims and their schools and charities, but to right-wing militias and left-wing environmental groups (or folks falsely accused of being in those groups because they seem like the sort who would be)? There are already dossiers on non-Muslim extremist groups. In a post-9/11 world, Islamic terrorism has nevertheless been the overwhelming priority for law enforcement, and insofar as innocents have suffered, Muslims have been affected far more than any other identifiable group, because the bulk of the paradigm shift in law enforcement hasn’t spread beyond them.
Would that still be true if the next terrorist attack on American soil looks like Oklahoma City? How would President Obama or President Romney wield their unprecedented executive power in the aftermath of such an attack? Who would find that they’d been put on no fly lists? Whose cell phone conversations and email exchanges would be monitored without their ever knowing about it?
It ought to be self-evident that non-Muslims perpetrate terrorist attacks, and that a vanishingly small percentage of Muslims are terrorists, but those two truths aren’t widely appreciated in America.
CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland have followed this threat for some time. They are also speaking out again on the threat from radical right terror groups.
Militants linked to al Qaeda or inspired by jihadist ideology have carried out four terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, which have resulted in 17 deaths. Thirteen of them were in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.
By contrast, right-wing extremists have committed at least eight lethal terrorist attacks in the United States that have resulted in the deaths of nine people since 9/11, according to data compiled by the New America Foundation.
And if, after investigation, Sunday’s attack on the Sikh temple in Wisconsin is included in this count, the death toll from right-wing terrorism in the U.S. over the past decade rises to 15.
The shooting suspect, Wade Michael Page, posed with a Nazi flag on his Facebook page and has played a prominent role in “white power” music groups. The FBI is investigating the case as a “domestic terrorist-type incident.”
A particular concern for law enforcement is the Sovereign Citizens movement, whose adherents reject all U.S. laws as well as taxation and American currency. An FBI report published in 2011 said “lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers” since 2000.
The numbers in the New America Foundation database may well understate the toll of violence from right-wing extremists. Another FBI study reported that between January 1, 2007, and October 31, 2009, white supremacists were involved in 53 acts of violence, 40 of which were assaults directed primarily at African-Americans, seven of which were murders and the rest of which were threats, arson and intimidation. Most of these were treated as racially motivated crimes rather than political acts of violence, i.e. terrorism.
In the past year, the FBI has concluded investigations into a number of right-wing extremists, in some cases securing lengthy sentences for violent plots. In December, Kevin Harpham of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced to 32 years for planting a bomb at the site of a Martin Luther King Jr. parade. City workers found the bag containing the bomb an hour before the streets filled with parade-goers.
Here’s a list from the SPLC on acts of Terror From the Right. It’s a long list. David Neiwert at C&L wrote about this last year after Norway’s mass murder by the typical lone wolf right wing nut. The article is called: “Why right-wing domestic terrorists are our big blind spot: Let’s start with the media”. Charles Pierce wrote an article with a similar theme that year at Esquire Magazine. It’s about how the media basically spent very little time on that parade bomber. Perhaps, it’s because we haven’t had a horrific body count since the Oklahoma Bombing.
At the beginning of this year, not long after they’d found the bomb on the bench in Spokane, a journalist named David Neiwert put together a list of nearly thirty acts of right-wing political violence that had taken place, or had been foiled, in the United States since the summer of 2008 — or roughly since Barack Obama’s presidency began to be seen as a genuine possibility. The list began with Jim David Adkisson, who killed two people in a Unitarian church in Tennessee because he was angry at how “liberals” were “destroying America.” It included two episodes in April 2009, one in Pittsburgh and one in Florida, in which men who were sure that Barack Obama’s government was coming for their guns opened fire on law-enforcement officers who had come to investigate them on other matters.
Some of the crimes on the list were briefly sensational — Scott Roeder’s murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, or Joseph Andrew Stack’s flying his small plane into a building in Austin in protest of the Internal Revenue Service, or the incoherent array of violent crimes committed by the “Sovereign Citizens Movement.” But most of them barely made the national radar at all. In December 2008, a woman in Belfast, Maine, named Amber Cummings shot to death her sleeping husband, James, who’d been savagely abusing her. Upon arriving at the Cummings home, investigators found Nazi paraphernalia and a stash of chemicals indicating that James Cummings was preparing to make a “dirty bomb” that he planned to detonate at Obama’s inauguration. Except in the local media, that aspect of the case disappeared completely. James Cummings and his bomb had nothing to do with Scott Roeder’s handgun or Joe Stack’s airplane.
It is a fertile time for such things. The country elected a black president with an exotic name. The economy, wrecked by a rigged game at the highest levels, continued to grind through a jobless recovery. The national dialogue grows coarser and wilder, and does so at a pace accelerated by technology. People sense the fragmentation — things are falling apart — even while they take refuge in those fragments of life that seem safest and most familiar.
Still, to me, the reason is clear. Folks like Michelle Bachmann and Allan West and countless other republican elected officials, blog writers, and journalists legitimize the right wing terrorist’s extremist beefs. They use inflammatory, violent, hateful, and bigoted frames, language, and code words. I frankly think they’ve put enough ammunition and thoughts in these people’s hearts, minds, and guns that we’re going to see more of it in the days to come. We’re also going to see the correlation and possible causation between their rhetoric and the right wing terrorist’s actions poo-pooed by the right wing press and blogosphere. That, and we’ll continue to see the framing of left wing causes of environment and civil rights causes placed into equivocal boxes. These people need to be held to account and more time and money needs to be spent on paramilitary groups than tree huggers and animal fur-haters. PERIOD.