Conservative Bloggers Now Identifying With Far Right Extremists

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Conservative bloggers must really identify themselves with the most extreme elements of the right wing. The Department of Homeland Security has declassified a report on right wing extremism. (PDF file here). The report is on white supremacists, right wing militias, and those who support violence like Timothy McVeigh. Such extremism is a real threat and it is not surprising that the Department of Homeland Security has seen a reason to describe this threat. After all, this has been the major source of domestic terrorism in recent years. My bet is that somewhere they also have reports on violent extremists of the far left.

I’ve often noted that the Republicans and much of the conservative blogosphere has become quite extreme, but I still wouldn’t lump them in with the type of extremists the report is aimed at. The report doesn’t talk about conservatives, Republicans, or even conservative bloggers.  For some reason, however, conservative bloggers seem to identify with them. I first saw mention of this in The Liberty Papers. Michelle Malkin has picked it up with the paranoid title  Confirmed: The Obama DHS hit job on conservatives is real. Pamela Geller writes this “is the fascist blueprint to create a police state and legalize gulags.”

There is certainly a lot of paranoia on the right. For an example, see David Weigel’s gun show report. It is certainly reasonable for people in Homeland Security to be concerned about such people should they support violence. A report describing extremists and warning of the risk of violence is far different from advocating suppression of their speech or of rounding them up in gulags.

I fail to understand why the right, rather than seeing the extreme right which advocates violence as a problem, sees this report as being about them. I certainly don’t feel any similar affinity towards extremists of the far left and would have no concerns about a similar report on left wing extremists.

Steven Taylor has the best title for a response on this issue:  You’re so Vain, You Probably Think this Report is about You (or, so Paranoid…)

Jonathan Chait also wonders about this:

Conservatives? The report is about murderous lunatics. I kind of figured conservatives would try to define potential domestic terrorists as the fringe right. And, indeed, I’d agree that, for all its rhetorical and ideological excesses, conservatism is an ideology that usually stops short of fomenting violence against lawful authorities. But there’s Michelle Malkin calling potential terrorists “conservatives.”

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16 Comments

  1. 1
    Diane says:

    I read the report.
    It is very interesting that the conservatives are that paranoid/delusional in ASSuming this report is about them.
    It appears this is yet another attempt to blame democrats/Pres. Obama and inflame the base.
    The report clearly talks about the extremist groups, White Supremacists, Oklahoma City and other group.
    Malicious Malkin reminds me of the person who will always blame other/feel persecuted and is always soooo predictable.

  2. 2
    Fritz says:

    I utterly do not understand the notion of SupportViolence as a boolean attribute with no input conditions.  Is there anyone anywhere who never supports violence?  Even Gandhi condemned the British government confiscation of Indian arms.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz,

    For the purposes of a brief blog post I don’t think it is necessary to worry about the rare cases where violence might be supported. Those who currently advocate violence against the US government are a fair topic for at such a report describing them. It’s not like they are advocating rounding them up for holding views which might support violence under some circumstances.

  4. 4
    Fritz says:

    Almost all of what I have seen is not “advocate violence now” but “prepare now for when/if violence becomes the appropriate course”.  Which is completely different.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’d worry about how such groups would decide that violence has become the appropriate course.

  6. 6
    b-psycho says:

    There was also a report on possible threats from left-wing extremists a couple months ago.  That went by without a peep — ironically, this FauxNews article mentioning that in passing is the first I’d heard of it.

    As for the right-wing reaction to this: it’s funny how the same people barking they’re going to be silenced now were running around calling critics unAmerican back when The Man was a Republican.  Real anti-government types don’t care who is in office.

  7. 7
    Fritz says:

    b-psycho, I guess I’m one of those consistent real anti-government types.  :)

    Ron — well, there are historical indications.  In 1776 the decision happened when government forces marched in to confiscate weapons from civilian owners.

  8. 8
    Fritz says:

    And, in 1794, it was in response to government forces marching in to take the whiskey.   I regret that that rebellion didn’t also succeed.

  9. 9
    U.S. Common Sense says:

    I think the reason why you see conservative bloggers respond to this report is due in part to the false mindset that our political spectrum is two-dimensional.  For some reason, the media and politicians both think the general public cannot comprehend a multi-dimensional view on politics, where there isn’t just a “left” and “right.”  And the fact that this report comes out focusing on “rightwing extremism” and not “extremism” in general gives the impression that the Administration is trying to continue to pump the two-dimensional view.

    In fact, much of what is said in this report is identical to what occurs with “leftwing extremism” (to continue the flat-line concept).  ELF does more in terms of actual terrorism (politically motivated criminal acts) including destruction of private property and creating a harmful environment, just as an example.  Personally, I think people both on the “left” and “right” should be upset over this report and expect that their employees (which the Administration is) do a better job of expressing their concerns in the future without lowering the mental bar by using simple-minded labels.

  10. 10
    Christopher Skyi says:

    “I read the report.
    It is very interesting that the conservatives are that paranoid/delusional in ASSuming this report is about them.
    It appears this is yet another attempt to blame democrats/Pres. Obama and inflame the base.
    The report clearly talks about the extremist groups, White Supremacists, Oklahoma City and other group.”

    Diane — I think you’re correct that the report wasn’t aimed at the conservative mind set (at least I hope not!), but it appears it was a sloppy piece of work, especially the footnote that defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

    Taken at face value, it says that everyone supportive of federalism and/or upset about taxes, etc., is now considered a potentially dangerous “rightwing extremist” by Homeland Security.

    The Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis really should elaborate on that rather than leave it hanging in a footnote . . .

  11. 11
    nomoreGOP says:

    Malicious Malkin reminds me of the person who will always blame other/feel persecuted and is always soooo predictable.

    “Malicious Malkin”

  12. 12
    nomoreGOP says:

    LOVE IT

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Christopher,

    That footnote is being taken as having a meaning far different from what it actually says. It does not say that everyone who supports federalism or is upset about taxes is considered a potentially dangerous extremist. It is speaking of the extremists who outright reject federal authority or who reject all government authority. It doesn”t even mention taxes.

    The real purpose of the footnote is to point out that rightwing extremism can broadly be divided into two groups, those which are primarily hate groups and those which are primarily based upon opposition to government authority.

    Those who are concerned about this document are claiming it says things which are quite different from what it actually does say.

  14. 14
    Christopher Skyi says:

    Hummm . . . it comes real close to crossing a line, and I think people sense that, and it’s not just that footnote.

    As you know, Bush et al. increased domestic surveillance and wiretaps — perhaps not to an unprecedented degree, but the increase was significant. 

    What does surveillance, privacy, and freedom of speech have to do with this report?  Rep. Bennie G. Thompson pointed out the connection in this AP report:

    The top House Democrat overseeing the Department of Homeland Security is demanding that officials there explain how and why they wrote and released a controversial report identifying veterans as potential terrorist threats.
    Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that he was “dumbfounded” such a report would be issued.
    “This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans — including war veterans,” Mr. Thompson said in the letter sent Tuesday.
    “As I am certain you agree, freedom of association and freedom of speech are guaranteed to all Americans — whether a person’s beliefs, whatever their political orientation, are ‘extremist’ or not,” Mr. Thompson said.

    Apparently, at the end of the report, the DHS has planned, with law enforcement officials, to monitor legitimate public political activity.  Thompson said he was “particularly struck” by this statement. 

    I don’t know law, but this seems a violation of the presumption of innocence.   The danger, the slippy slope, is that it brings the  government uncomfortably close to treating political discourse as a potentially subversive activity.  I think this is what “struck”  Thompson.

    I think anyone, on the right or left, concerned with the encroachment  on privacy and increased govt. surveillance would be — and should be — concerned with such a statement.

    Thompson’s a liberal al in every sense of the word.  If he’s worried — I’m worried.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    These claims about veterans are a distortion of what the report actually says. (Even Little Green Footballs has been chastising conservatives for such distortions). The report does not treat discourse as “potentially subversive activity.” It is clearly concerned with those who practice violence, not with discourse.

  16. 16
    Christopher Skyi says:

    Two Birds with One Stone.

    Cato.org has little sympathy for conservatives (are there any left in America?) who are “outraged” by this report, but not because conservative concerns are unwarranted:

    Obama’s Justice Department has fought to retain most of the Bush-era powers governing enemy combatants and surveillance. They’ve embraced the Bush-Cheney position that the State Secrets Privilege bars the courthouse door to litigants who claim they’ve been harmed by warrantless wiretapping.
    Worse, according to constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, the Obama DOJ has gone even further than the Bush team, arguing that “all claims of illegal government surveillance are immunized in the absence of ‘willful disclosure’ to the public of the intercepted communications.” (This means the government now cannot be sued unless the results of an illegal  surveillance are made public).
    Conservatives who recently screamed bloody murder over a DHS report targeting “right-wing extremists” (including pro-lifers and gun enthusiasts) ought to ask themselves if it was such a good idea to have fought relentlessly to expand federal wiretapping powers over the last eight years.

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