The Obama administration has done something I didn’t think it was possible to do. It managed, in a ten-page report, to tattoo the word “extremist” on the foreheads of about half the country.
Plenty of folks are writing about the Department of Homeland Security Report made public by Stephen Gordon at The Liberty Papers. And for good reason. The report is, essentially, the fever-dream of every left-wing blogger run through a bureaucratic translation filter with a government agency seal on the cover page. Indeed, the left wing, smelling a sweet ideological savour, has flocked to stories about the report like creepy English villagers to a wicker man hoping to catch a glimpse of a burning right-winger.
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of DHS, needs to be fired tomorrow. The report is just that bad.
Michelle Malkin, Donald Douglas, Stacy McCain, William Jacobson, Ed Morrissey, Q and O, John Hinderaker, and Eli Lake each have taken on all or part of this alleged intelligence report and their work will put you much farther down the road toward understanding the difference between activist groups that are not violent and never will be and true “rightwing extremists” than the authors of the report had when they wrote it.
I found two things about this report particularly interesting.
First, the report reveals its political motivation right at the very beginning. In fact, if you read only the first paragraph of the analysis, you will learn everything the authors really want you to know. That paragraph says [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.
How many groups can you think of that would fit into those emphasized categories? Mark Krikorian and the Center for Immigration Studies would certainly qualify for the latter. So would National Right to Life and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum. The Club for Growth, The Heritage Foundation, The American Issues Project are just a few groups that would fit nicely into the former.
And what about conservative media? National Review, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard all advocate smaller national government in favor of state and local government. This very blog would be considered a “rightwing extremist” publication by DHS’s standard. Perhaps I’d better check to see if there are any suspicious delivery vans bearing a certain logo parked outside.
How about the thousands of people who will gather tomorrow all around the country at a Tax Day Tea Party protest? Keep that one in mind for later.
By the Obama administration’s definition, if you have one issue that you care about far more than any other, or if you’ve ever entertained the thought that just maybe the federal government can’t handle the education of your children as well as your local school board, then you’re an extremist and law enforcement agencies should be paying you more attention.
I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that this report would come out of DHS right around the same time that left-wing bloggers started cutting and pasting the JournoList Meme of the Week into their posts. Jeff Goldstein ties the whole thing up in a neat little package.
Listen: I understand the impulse to keep the fringe actors at the fringes so that the taint of, say, the Birchers doesn’t damage conservatism proper. But the fact of the matter is, we have already allowed progressives and their media cohort to define conservatism — and the result has been to paint those whose political ideology is most tied to Constitutional fidelity and individual liberty as godbothering racist rednecks who are too stupid to recognize the glory that is come in the form of Barack Obama and the Savior State.
Which is why it makes no sense whatever to pretend that what the report explicitly states is anything other than an effort to dovetail a new formulation of “extremism” — equated herein with holding certain “right wing” ideals — with what has been a long-term systematic semantic strategy for marginalizing those voices who represent the biggest threat to an ever-expanding centralized nannystate.
And so this report comes out at the same time that the JLMotW makes its appearance, just in time to collide with a massive grassroots protest that opposes the Obamessiah and his radical proposals. Of course it’s not a coincidence. After all, no one gives a flying hoot if a bunch of Birchers hit the streets. So if the left and their willing Quislings in the MSM can paint anyone who opposes the President as marginal, then they can safely blow them off without having to spend a minute answering to the rest of the country why their neighbors and friends, most of whom have never marched for a cause in their lives, took a day off to protest.
Here’s the other reason that reveals the report as purely political: it makes no sense as a law enforcement intelligence tool. When you read the report, note the lack of specificity. The authors say specifically that it wasn’t prompted by any hint of threats. The words “could” and “may” are sprinkled all over it like ice cream toppings. It actually diminishes the real and potential threat from fringe groups on the right such as the militia movement and the white supremacist movement. It’s almost sure to drive people who were teetering on the edge of real extremism into the arms of those movements because it confirms their worst fear — their government really is willing to put them under closer police observation on a flimsy political pretext.
But, hey, what’s a few extra death threats to police officers to President Obama?
One last comment. I would caution conservatives not to compare this report to the now-infamous Missouri Information Analysis Center report on the modern militia movement that drove many on the right into paroxyms of outrage. Most of the ruckus then was misplaced, as the bloggers writing about it either didn’t read the report very carefully or misconstrued what it did say. There is a world of difference between the two. The MIAC report was a serious analysis of the resurgence of the militia movement, that was specific and limited just to that movement. It was written to help police officers them do their jobs more safely. Contrary to what was reported, that report didn’t paint everyone on the right as a potential terrorists. Remember, the MIAC report listed incidents where police officers and other officians in law enforcement were targeted as tools of an oppressive government. From those incidents, the MIAC report went on to use known facts about militia members (who they tend to support politically, other groups to which they belong, flags and stickers they tend to display). The MIAC report addressed only militia members. The DHS report, on the other hand, says that virtually anyone, including the Governors of South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, and Alaska, could be a domestic terrorist. Conservatives need to be very careful not to put the two reports in the same basket. They aren’t alike and tarring the MIAC report with the same brush will end up hampering police officers instead of helping them.
UPDATE: Sidebar link from Michelle Malkin. Thanks!
UPDATE 3: I wish I had Sister Toldjah’s memory. As soon as I read her post, I remembered what Andy McCarthy had said and kicked myself for not remembering it first. The man was right on the money. Good on Sister T for the pull!
UPDATE 4: Tom Maguire does the hard Google work that apparently the Department of Homeland Security couldn’t do. I guess if you rely on left-wing activist groups to do all your research for you, there’ll be certain accuracy issues, eh?