As I wrap up my three-part series about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “assessment” on Rightwing Extremism (PDF), I want to point out several more references included in the report, and touch on some thoughts about the release of this report.
Let’s refresh our memory.
The title of the assessment is “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”. The targets of the assessment are radical and extremist groups as well as “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration”, and the government believes some of our fine men and women of the military could be extremists, or even potential terrorists. All of these items are mentioned before the end of page 3. It’s a nine page report.
Page three wraps up by blaming the current economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama as the catalysts for creating more extremist thoughts in our country.
Page four makes it clear that most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical since the election and have stopped short of violent action. The assessment warns us (vaguely) that there were two incidents before the election, but law enforcement interceded. Isn’t it funny they can point to specifics like the shooting in Pittsburgh on April 4th and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but when it comes to supporting their “imposition of fear”, they can’t state any specifics?
Apparently, the government feels that the “perceived government infringement on civil liberties” leads to domestic rightwing terrorists lashing out. Of course they have to cite an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors, yet, if you remember correctly in the paragraph above this one, they also stated that there has been no violent action.
The authors of the assessment wrap up page four by planting the thought in your head that poverty pays a huge role in radicalization, yet, once again, their statistics are a bit vague.
Page five gets interesting when illegal immigration comes to the forefront and the assessment points out a few isolated incidents where rightwing extremists, militias, white supremacists, and other citizens have taken a stand against illegal immigration. The assessment states,
Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.
Read that last line again. It “has the potential to turn violent.” Once again, no evidence of violence, no actual violence, has occurred. The word violent (or violence) was used 27 times in the assessment. That’s an average of three times per page, yet they make it clear on page four that there hasn’t been a single incidence of violence thus far.
The assessment touches on the implementation of restrictive gun laws again at the bottom of page five, pointing out specific cases (such as Waco and Ruby Ridge) as signs that such laws would create a “heightened level of extremist paranoia” and once again “has the potential to facilitate criminal activity and, yes, you guessed it, violence.” Waco and Ruby Ridge both involved much more than just “restrictive gun laws” but the government thought it would be cool to throw both of those incidents in your face to make you shake in your boots.
Page six makes references to perceived threats from other countries, but more importantly, page seven reminds us again that the government is worried about possible “disgruntled military veterans”. The report cites Timothy McVeigh again, and the fact that “some” returning military veterans joined rightwing extremist groups. They forget once again to point out the fact that 42 million men and women have worn the uniform, and they make no mention of how many of these same military members joined civic organizations, rotary clubs, or other productive and respected organizations in their hometowns.
In case you thought otherwise, the outlook of the assessment, on page eight, is not so bright either. The current economic climate, the historic presidential election, environmental factors that echo the 1990’s, and legislation for tighter firearms restrictions are going to invigorate extremists which will allow them to grow in strength. With the advent of the Internet, all hell is going to break loose because they can spread the word quickly and reach a global audience in seconds.
The report endorses the actions taken in the 1990’s which included law enforcement “disruptions”, and it points to a significant recovery in the economy as a factor in saving our country from the threat of those extremists. First they instill fear, then they ride in on a white horse to save you. Haven’t you heard this story before?
So let’s recap. The assessment references rightwing extremism and makes it clear that just about anyone in the country can be considered a domestic terrorist. The assessment specifically makes reference to individuals who are anti-abortion, anti-illegal immigration, pro gun ownership, or former military, as possible targets. The final page of the assessment encourages law enforcement officers to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to the Department of Homeland Security.
Once our local law enforcement starts “watching us” on behalf of the federal government, where does it stop? Many people will hear about this assessment, and assume that it pertains only to known extremist groups and radicals who are a threat to our country. Little will they know that they too could be a target of the assessment if they simply have an opinion and open their mouths.
Steve Doocy points out that he is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is anti-abortion. Does that make the Catholic Church a rightwing extremist organization?
It’s clear that the government is going to crack down on those groups and individuals who voice their concerns or show any signs of dissent against the current system. Anyone who attempts to spread messages of dissent or supports causes important to them will be targeted as a possible domestic terrorist.
I seem to remember a people that watched each other, reported their neighbors to the
gestapo police, and turned in their own brothers. If I remember correctly that didn’t turn out so well either. They say if we forget history we are doomed to repeat it. Let’s hope our memory is strong. We cannot allow this to happen.
Now pardon me while I pull down the blinds and research some posts for next week. I’m pretty sure I’m already on a watch list somewhere, which is fine with me, but I wonder if there will be any global warming nuts or animal rights activists included on the list of “watched” citizens with me?