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Blowback From Right Wing Extremists

Jim Burroway

June 10th, 2009

Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security issued a pair of security assessments warning that right wing and left wing extremists may be on the rise this year. Conservatives were particularly incensed that Homeland Security chose to discuss the rise of right-wing extremism following the election of the first African-American president. The report noted that right wing extremists were especially targeting Iraq war veterans for recruitment.

That assessment sent conservatives through the roof, charging that the report was a smear campaign against the Republican party. Newt Gingrich tweeted, “The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired.” Michelle Malkin called it a “hit job on conservatives.” Of course, that would only be true if all conservatives were right-wing extremists.

But what’s happened since that report was released. An abortion doctor in Wichita, Kansas was gunned down in front of his wife while attending church by Scott Roeder. The assailant was a part of the Freemen group which was part of a three-month standoff with the FBI in Montana in 1996. He was also in contact with Operation Rescue at least two years before gunning down Tiller.

Now just today, one person was killed during an attack at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The gunman, James W. Von Brunn, has been a prolific writer for White Supremacist and neo-Nazi groups for a number of years.

When the Homeland Security issued their report, Conservative media including Fox News howled in protest and demanded an immediate apology from Secretary Janet Napolitano. With two violent actions by right-wing extremists in the space of just a couple of weeks, will those same people — Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin in particular — apologize to Secretary Napolitano?

It’s at least encouraging to see one reporter at Fox News who is covering the scene at the Holocaust Memorial to question their prior

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In Studio: Katherine, for the second time in as many weeks, a crime scene reminds me of a memo which you broke on the Fox Report from the government warning, look out for crazy extremists out there about to go do weirdness, and here we are.

Katherine: Well this is an excellent point to bring up because I think we have to now see those two intelligence assessments that were released by Homeland Security earlier this year — one dealt with left-wing extremists, the other dealt with right-wing extremists — you have to see them in a somewhat different light. It would appear — and I emphasize appear based on the evidence that’s available to us — that it does seem to be the act of an individual who had extremist views, and if it is indeed von Brunn, someone who did have a military history — and as you remember, that was the element of the right-wing intelligence assessment which was so controversial and there was a lot of blowback on Homeland Security from that assessment.

In Studio:Yeah, there was blowback and here we are.

I bring this up for one reason only, and it’s not to bash Republicans or conservatives. But it is to sound a warning. There really are extremists out there. Different extremists target their hate towards different groups, including the LGBT community. For several years now, we as a community have continued to bear the brunt of the lion’s share of violent hate crimes, moreso than any other group tracked by the FBI.

We have gained tremendous ground in the past few months, with same-sex marriage now legal throughout New England and Iowa, in addition to all-the-rights-of-marriage Domestic Partnerships in Washington State. We also have a hate crimes act passed in the House and working its way through the Senate. We have seen unprecedented victories in a very short amount of time. That cannot be going unnoticed among some of the more violent-prone segments of the population. Let’s be careful and vigilant out there.

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SharonB
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

This is why I have a concealed carry permit. Sad to say, but true.

Jason D
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

I was JUST talking to my partner about this.

Such a bizarre thing for Fox, et al, to basically align themselves with extremists to get offended, but then distance themselves from them when the report actually has some merit.

No, Hannity, Colmes, Malkin, Fox, they weren’t talking about you (yet) unless you happen to think murdering a doctor is okay, and running into a holocaust memorial and shooting people is okay. I kinda doubt that.

Jason D
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

oh, and here’s a link to the cards liberty council was giving people saying “I”m a card carrying right wing extremist”

Hmm, wonder what humble pie tastes like?

http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/the-strang-report/22103-christians-classified-as-terror-threats

John
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

I find it ironic that most people don’t seem to realize that most domestic terrorism that has occurred in the US has come from the Right Wing.

Although people think of Left Wing ’70′s radicals when they think of domestic terrorism, that completely ignores the KKK, lynchings, Oklahoma City, and on and on. If you only included the violence directed at African Americans since Reconstruction, the Right Left imbalance would still be so severe as to completely dwarf Left Wing terrorism.

So really, nobody in our society should be surprised by violence coming from Right Wing extremist groups.

And on a personal note, my kid was at the DC Holocaust museum a couple of weeks ago. This heinous attack sent a chill up my spine. I thank the guards for selflessly putting themselves between the gunman an other potential victims.

Burr
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

“This is why I have a concealed carry permit. Sad to say, but true.”

Which is why the interstate concealed carry Republicans want to attach to the hate crimes bill might be doing us a favor..

Kristie
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t know how many of you actually ever watch Fox News, but I do and from what I saw, the main reason that Fox News and conservatives in general (as well as a lot of Libertarians) were incensed over that report was not that it was picking on people that commit violent acts of domestic terrorism, but that it placed returning war verterans, people that supported 3rd party candidates, anyone that had strong feelings about abortion, immigration or over-reaching federal government power and folks who want to keep their guns in the same category as people that blew up the federal building in OK city!

The memo said in part:” Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

That 2nd part is a pretty broad definition of “rightwing extremeism” alright! I have strong feelings about illegal immigration,I’d favor state/local govt over the fed anyday of the week, I think I should be able to buy a gun if I want one and I vote libertarian frequently. Does that mean that I’m someone that should be put on a watch list? I also support a woman’s right to choose and full (state/federal) rights for the GLBT community. Does that mean I get a pass because I’m not “that” right wing?

Yes, there are a lot of people out there that do horrible things in the name of uber-conservative political/religious beliefs such as the cases mentioned in the main article, but lumping anyone that has “anti-government feelings” in with psychos that shoot abortion doctors or bomb govt. buildings seems, to a lot of people pretty extreme and unfair.

That’s like saying that everyone who donates to PETA is likely to go out and fire bomb the science deptartment at their local university because they experiment on animals. That would be a ridiculous assumption to make, even though eco-terrorists and animal rights activists have done just that on more than one occasion. And just this past week an American convert to Islam walked into a military recruitment center and shot 2 servicemen. One of them (23 yrs old) died. He’d only just finished boot camp. Should we start suspecting that all American Muslims are going to start going on shooting sprees?

This kind of thinking is the beginning of a slippery slope and once you start down it everyone starts to look suspect for one reason or another.

*(sorry for the GIGANTIC run-on sentence that is basically the entire first paragraph.It was kind of all one thought…)

Jason D
June 10th, 2009 | LINK

Kristie, Your post is an example of how if Fox news says something, you should probably check it out for yourself:
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/5410658/DHS-Report-on-Right-Wing-Extremism

So to turn it around for a second, let’s look at it another way….

Do you think that Fox news considers itself:

-primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups)

-mainly antigovernment

-rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority

-rejecting government authority entirely.

-dedicated to a single issue

If so, I believe we do have reason to watch Fox news, and anyone else who considers themselves to embody most or all of those characteristics.

Of course single sections such as “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority” and “dedicated to a single issue” aren’t in and of themselves causes for alarm. I don’t think the document says otherwise. But single sections such as being a hate group and rejecting our government entirely — well, yes, I think those are causes for concern, and even moreso when combined with other factors listed.

What Fox did was bad journalism, harping on the single issue section and the supposed knock at states rights, which isn’t at all what that paragraph is saying, not when you read the rest of the document and think about it critically.

The same criteria could easily apply to left-wing extremists, btw.

My question is, why would Fox, Malkin, and Newt toss their hat into the ring with people being watched because they are primarily hate oriented or people who reject our government entirely? Are Malkin and Newt interested in overthrowing our government and discriminating against minorities?

Kristie
June 11th, 2009 | LINK

Jason D, you missed the point of my post entirely. My point was that the hate-group category the memo talked about was not what conservatives had a problem with. It was the assumption that if you fall into the other categories (the 2nd category I quoted from the memo) at all that you are somehow more suspect than the average American on the street. The implication that combat veterans are more likely to be swayed to the cause of violent, “right-wing” groups simply because they happen to BE combat veterans is insulting. Just because someone is in the military doesn’t mean that they hold right-leaning views.

I don’t think that Fox News per se considers itself any of the things you listed, but there are a lot of people that have strong feelings about how much power the fed should have, are primarily politically focussed on abortion, immigration or some other “single issue” or have served in the miltary that don’t deserve to have aspersions cast upon their character simply for those views. And no one should be looked on as a potential terrorist simply based on some of their political views, right, left or middle of the road.

Yes, we should be watching hate groups and yes we should be aware of the potential for violence that exists in the current political/ideological climate, but where does watching hate groups stop and the potential harrassment of innocent citizens begin? The majority of Americans would never consider comitting an act of terrorism even those that have right-leaning political beliefs, but the tone of this memo seems to suggest that anyone with right-leaning views is a potential threat and that is a completely specious assessment.That was my point.

Thomas
June 11th, 2009 | LINK

@Kristie

Actually, the report did not say that combat/military veterans were more likely to be _swayed_ and should thus be monitored; it pointed out the fact that right-wing extremists were more likely to _court_ (read target) those people.

Being in the military did not automatically make you an extremist, but you were more likely to be targeted for recruitment by extremists.
Unfortunately, it makes a warped kind of sense that you would target those with the training you might want should you desire to do harm.

Please do not take my word for it though; read the entire report here: http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/rightwing.pdf
Please take careful note of page 4, bullet 2 where the speak of the returning veterans.
Page 5, the section regarding “disgruntled” veterans is not malevolent in nature but an acknowledge of fact that some veterans may return and be none too happy with the US and would be prime recruitment material; it does _not_ say all veterans should be monitored.

You know, there was once something to be said for a populace reading/researching the source documents themselves rather than relaying on entertaining news commentary.

Jason D
June 11th, 2009 | LINK

“Jason D, you missed the point of my post entirely. My point was that the hate-group category the memo talked about was not what conservatives had a problem with. It was the assumption that if you fall into the other categories (the 2nd category I quoted from the memo) at all that you are somehow more suspect than the average American on the street.

The second category is anti-government. The third is those that “May” belong to single issue groups. Are you saying that anti-government, people who DON’T WANT ANY GOVERNMENT WHATSOEVER are not suspect?

You seem to not understand what anti-government means. It doesn’t mean simply disagreeing with an issue, a law, the dominant political party, a politician, a process of government, or the president. Anti-government means exactly that: someone who feels that we should not have any government whatsoever. Last I checked Libertarians and Republicans aren’t anti-government, and if Newt Gingrich is anti-government, he’s chosen the wrong profession.

The implication that combat veterans are more likely to be swayed to the cause of violent, “right-wing” groups simply because they happen to BE combat veterans is insulting.

Again, that’s not exactly what the memo says. It says that right wing groups may be interested in swaying them, first and foremost. It does not say they will be easily swayed, it says they will be targeted for recruitment, and says other issues that combat vets care about may be used to sway them.

Kristie, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve never been in combat, and that no one in your family ever has been in combat.
My father and grandfather have both been in combat, and from personal experience I know that my father was NOT himself when he returned from Operation Desert Storm/Shield. It took several years for him to come to terms with what he had been through. Without the support of my mother, my brother, and myself, he might not have ever recovered. Had a right-wing extremist group tried to recruit him at the time, he was in such a state that he might have been swayed. That’s what war does to people, it mindf*cks them.

Recognizing that war is hell on someone emotionally, mentally, and physically is NOT AN INSULT.

The memo is several pages long and warns us of exactly the kind of problems we have faced with the man who shot up that UCC church, the murder of Dr. Tiller, and the shooting at the Holocause Memorial — even Fox News is admitting they were too quick to trash the report.

I suggest you actually read the whole memo.

John
June 11th, 2009 | LINK

Kristie,

The report is about extremism. There are plenty of non-extremists who built their career on being against federal government, for local control, anti-abortion, etc. Hmm….Ronald Reagan comes to mind. Despite my disagreements with President Reagan, I would not put him in the same category with some paranoid guy participating in mock war games in the Tennessee woods and planning attacks on abortion clinics and gay bars as a lead in to an all out military conflict with the central government.

These people exist. It would be foolhardy for the government not to pay attention to these folks. They have proven themselves to be very dangerous. Many people have already died.

I find it disturbing that you can’t seem to see how obviously different you are from the likes of Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. Shocking as it may sound, the average American liberal can also easily tell the difference between the psycho-extremist who scares them and the very conservative individual that they simply disagree with.

Kristie
June 11th, 2009 | LINK

Jason D,
Actually my father is a Vietam veteran and I do understand what war can do to people, but again, my point was not that ignoring the mental/physical toll that war takes on combat soldiers was an insult but that a lot of conservatives were offended by the implication that just because you are a combat vet that you might be more inclined to be “disgruntled” with the govt, high unemployment, an African-American in the white house, etc.

Of course we shouldn’t ignore those issues, but what many people objected to was the broadness of the criteria. And, I do actually understand what “anti-government” means, but there was also a portion of the memo that discussed people that prefer state/local govt. over the Fed and those are the people I was referring to. People that want no government are extremists, but just having a problem with the fact that the fed has become far more involved in our lives than it was ever intended to doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to go bomb a building.

John,
Believe me, I do understand the difference between myself and bomb throwers, so don’t get “disturbed” on my account. Your point about Reagan is exactly why a lot of conservatives got pissed.It’s just what I was talking about. Yes, this memo is supposed to be about extremism, but the broodness of the definition it gives for that extremism in some potions did make a lot of people feel that even someone like Reagan (or the average conservative) might be looked at a bit more closely based on the “guidlines” laid out in the memo.

A lot of people that replied to this article seemed confused about why exactly Fox News contributors & conservatives were so offended by this memo. I replied with why I thought they were offended. Now, their reasons may not make sense to you, but they make sense to them.

Jason D
June 11th, 2009 | LINK

Kristie, so basically what you’re telling us is that rather than read the 10-page report and comment on the document as a whole, you wish to pick apart a footnote. Rather than deal with the report in it’s entirety, in other words, in context, you wish to cherry pick bits and demonstrate unearned righteous indignation toward them.

It stands to reason that a report on right wing extremism must define what a “right wing” issue is in order to define how it can become taken to an extreme. However, that does not mean that the report condemns or labels as suspect ring wingers as a whole.

Blowback From Right Wing Extremists | Best Gay Blogs
June 13th, 2009 | LINK

[...] Read more at: Box Turtle Bulletin! [...]

Jason D
June 13th, 2009 | LINK

a little art/blog I did using the “I’m a Card-Carrying Right Wing Extremist” cards that Mat Staver was promoting.
http://jasondabrowski.blogspot.com/2009/06/reality-check.html

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