Update: Welcome NY Times readers. Do not be alarmed. You have not landed on the set of the movie Deliverance. I just happen to have a point of view you don’t hear at The Times. See my related post, I’m Seething Over The NY Times Calling Me Seething
The Department of Homeland Security Report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” was first brought to light by Stephen Gordon at The Liberty Papers Blog. The Report was issued a week before the scheduled Tea Parties across the country, and is all over the news today. Reading the report is depressing, not because it reveals any current threat, but because of the shoddy definitions and analysis.
One thing that is not clear from the news reports, to begin with, is that the Report specifically states that there is no current real threat, even from the most extreme White Supremacist groups: “Threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been mostly rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.” From the news accounts, you would think there was an actual threat, but that is not so.
But the even bigger vice is how a “rightwing extremist” is defined. I don’t disagree that the few remaining White Supremacist groups should be in any definition, but DHS puts a distinctly political spin on the definition (emphasis mine):
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.
This definition is so broad as to include anyone who seeks to preserve the foundation of our federal-state constitutional distinction, under the 10th Amendment (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people”), because such a person could be deemed to “reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.” So Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has come out in support of preserving the constitutional integrity of Texas now should be on the DHS‘ extremist and radical watch-list.
Similarly, the reference to “abortion or immigration” is purely political. Why pick those two subjects? If someone is planning violence, that is one thing. But vocalizing one’s view on a subject and seeking to influence the government are protected by the 1st Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”).
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