If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a terrorist. (Updated)
(First posted: 4/15/09, 12:33PM; updated 4/16/09 12:13AM)
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a terrorist.
That’s because if you are opposed to enlarging the redistributive state and spreading the wealth around, as the bulk of American Spectator readers presumably are, then by definition you’re a potential terrorist. You might even be a militia-loving Nazi, according to a federal report apparently inspired by the paranoid conspiracy theorists of the radical left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center.
The newly uncovered Department of Homeland Security document suggests that bitterly clinging to guns, religion, or the Constitution might just land you on a U.S. government watch list. And don’t even think of attending a “tea party” to protest the Obama administration’s economic policies.
This thinly veiled attack on Red State America conveniently dovetails with the left’s campaign to censor talk radio through the imposition of the Fairness Doctrine or so-called localism, which would allow ACORN and MoveOn.org activists to dictate the content of local broadcasting. It’s all part of a push by the left to stigmatize and marginalize conservative beliefs.
The DHS report suggests that if you’re a conservative or a libertarian, if you believe in gun rights or don’t support abortion rights or an immigration amnesty, if you don’t like high taxes or welfare programs or if you dare to believe that the Constitution actually limits the power of the government, you’re at risk of turning to terrorism.
Libertarian blogger Stephen Gordon of the Liberty Papers uncovered the new DHS threat assessment report, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
Gordon notes that “all it takes to fit the terrorist profile is to have general anti-government feelings or prefer local/state government to federal control over everything.”
Lumping Ku Klux Klansmen and violent militias together with good government types and members of the Federalist Society, this law enforcement guidance claims that large swaths of the nation that did not vote Democratic in the last election are boiling over with hatred and intolerance.
Although it is hardly a Roman-style proscription list, the report is disturbing to fair-minded people because it is an enforcement memo intended for police officers around the country. Its introduction declares that the information within “is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.” It tells them what kind of people and groups they should pursue, making no official distinction between legitimate law-abiding groups on the political right and actual right-wing extremists like, for example, bomber Eric Rudolph. It treats all groups on the right as the same, without explaining who the real bad guys are. Based on the incredibly broad definitions in the document, just about everyone who attended the Tax Day “tea party” protests could be considered a suspect.
The report targets military veterans too. It alerts police that “[r]eturning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.” Presumably veterans, police, and security guards could be approached by Islamist and left-wing extremists too. In any event, the DHS report cites an FBI report from last year that found from October 2001 through May 2008 only “a minuscule” number of veterans, 203 out of 23,000, signed up with extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement. Isn’t it comforting to know that instead of focusing on the real terrorists your government is spending tax dollars on warning police about grimy, toothless losers on welfare who wear white sheets and get swastika tattoos?
According to the document:
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.
Anticlimactically, the report notes that there is no actual evidence “that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence.” Nonetheless the report raises the alarm that “the economic downturn and the election of the first African American president” might help these “rightwing extremists” gain new recruits.
Under fire from members of her own party and the American Legion, which called the report “politically biased,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the report Wednesday. “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not — nor will we ever — monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.” Right. The DHS report instructs police to profile people based precisely on their ideology and political beliefs. Maybe Americans should have expected this from the euphemism-loving administration that renamed terrorist attacks “man-caused disasters” and calls the Global War on Terror the “Overseas Contingency Operation.”
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Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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