(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."
Without identifying the Southern Poverty Law Center by name, it quotes approvingly from the SPLC's 2006 report that claimed "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces."
The problem is that relying on data from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which I previously profiled, is always problematic. The reports it publishes are slow, painful journeys through tortured thinking.
One example of the Center's bizarre outlook is that decades after the civil rights movement forever changed America, the SPLC claimed that race relations in the nation were worse than in the days of Jim Crow.
And then there are all those Nazis the Center fantasizes about. Even Indiana Jones, it seems, can only kill so many of those guys.
According to an edition of the Center's Intelligence Report publication, admirers of the Third Reich have infiltrated the U.S. armed services, and the fact that Aryan Nations graffiti somehow turned up in occupied Baghdad is a big problem.
The SPLC also published an article claiming that the immensely popular film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, was "little more than a glorified vision of white patriarchy." Another SPLC author argued that the "Harry Potter" book series, which uses the term "half-blood" in a discussion of how characters acquire magical powers, was racist. Who knew the endearing little magicians of Hogwarts were actually agents of Nazi-like racial pseudoscience?
One SPLC article warns against the dangers of little girls dressing up as princesses on Halloween: "Too often, beautiful at Halloween means white, blonde, princess masks. What statement does your Halloween costume make about what constitutes beauty -- and about who is beautiful and who isn't?"
The Center lumps all sorts of groups on America's political right together, labeling them enemies of the Republic. Conservative, libertarian, anti-tax, immigration reductionist and other groups are all viewed as legitimate targets for vilification. To the SPLC, you practice "hate" whenever you fail to genuflect with politically correct reverence before every human difference.
The SPLC also accuses the American Enterprise Institute, the influential conservative think tank, of links to racism, in part because it has employed a well-known conservative intellectual, writer Dinesh D'Souza, as its John M. Olin Fellow. AEI is part of "an array of right-wing foundations and think tanks [that] support efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable," noted the summer 2003 issue of SPLC's Intelligence Report. D'Souza, an outspoken critic of political correctness and affirmative action, has views "seen by many as bigoted or even racist."
When else have we heard SPLC-style allegations against conservatives?
Bill Clinton accused talk radio and conservatives in general of inciting the kind of violent hate that led Timothy McVeigh to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
But more recently we've been hearing this kind of slander from left-wing thinkers and media figures who seem to be running out of arguments in favor of President Obama's radical restructuring of society.
No longer content merely to condescend to the benighted masses, liberals are now smearing as hate mongers those who oppose their Big Government objectives.
In a discussion aired March 20 about conservative talk radio's opposition to President Obama's Big Government agenda, the host of Real Time with Bill Maher, pulled a Clinton.
Repeating the former president's smear against conservative talkers, Maher said, "but you know I must say Tim McVeigh in 1995 if you recall, this was the same kind of talking that made him blow up that building."
Maher added, "Listening to people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck these days, I cannot figure out whether these right wingers are more dangerous when they're in power or when they're out of power, because when they're out of power, you know they're paranoid, their paranoia goes off the charts."
In a blog post entitled "This Is What the Class War Looks Like," prominent Democratic strategist David Sirota, recently got in touch with his inner Marx.
"There is an incredible amount of hate out there right now -- and the most intense of it is coming from those at the top who despise the idea that our society should do something - anything -- to address rampant inequality," said the former press secretary to House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey (D-Wisconsin).
Terry Krepel, a left-wing media analyst, was way ahead of the "hate" curve. He began labeling conservative Obama critics as haters just two days after Obama's inauguration in his Huffington Post item, "Right-Wing Media Becomes Obama Hate Central."
Charles M. Blow opined in the New York Times April 3 that conservative media figures use "veiled hate speech" to rally their supporters against Obama's progressive juggernaut. "Some simply lace their unscrupulous screeds with loaded language about the fall of the Republic. We have to 'rise up' and 'take back our country,'" he wrote, using expressions that not too long ago were used routinely by the left to protest the Bush administration.
The left also tried to capitalize on the April 4 murder of three Pittsburgh police officers by a deranged shooter who muttered something about Obama wanting to take away his guns. Reports indicate the man, who had recently lost his job, was agitated after getting into a fight with his mother.
But CNN's Rick Sanchez, Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, and DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas all attributed the shootings to conservative talk show hosts on radio and television.
"That weekend tragedy involves a man who allegedly shot and killed three police officers in cold blood. Why? Because he was convinced, after no doubt watching Fox News and listening to right-wing radio, that quote, 'Our rights were being infringed upon,'" Sanchez said April 8.
Conservative commentators like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck were offering "garden-variety fear and hate mongering...night in and night out," Sanchez said.
Sullivan pontificated that the shootings seemed "to be a clear instance" of violence that sprang from "the heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces." He added, "One wonders whether Fox News or the Second Amendment fanatics will chill it out a little. And then one realizes who we're talking about."
Moulitsas blogged that the shootings appear "to be an inevitable result of the bad economy, a conservative movement circling the drain, feeling betrayed, isolated, and defeated, and the rampant eliminationist talk from right-wing nutjobs on the radio and TV."
This thing called eliminationism, by the way, has become a kind of code word among leftists nowadays for the right-wing intolerance they imagine lurks around America suppressing differing viewpoints.
Not surprisingly, David Neiwert, the prophet who foretells the rise of this phenomenon in the soon-to-be-remaindered book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, agrees with the other liberals. After the Pittsburgh incident, he triumphantly blogged at Crooks and Liars:
We've been reporting for awhile on the surge in gun sales, and how the paranoia around guns is making the more unstable elements of the right particularly edgy. Inevitably, that edginess is going to break out into actual violence – as it appears to have done today.
The DHS report too blames the Pittsburgh killings on the "rightwing extremism" of the gunman.
It's time to call in Indiana Jones.