Dear Republicans, Do you regret creating the Department of Homeland Security yet? Are you ready to apologize?
That's the first thing I thought when I read that DHS report. Like an earlier report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center report that instructed law enforcement personnel to watch for cars with Ron Paul or Libertarian Party stickers, it has the right in something of an uproar.
As you may know, the report warns law enforcement agencies that there "may" be a rebirth of right wing violence. It warns, among other things, that returning veterans could be turning violent. Another passage that has attracted unfavorable notice is this one:
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.As others have said, this means there are an awful lot of potential terrorists out there. Aside from the fact that these people are casting their net way too widely, I am not as stunned by this development as many others are, for two reasons.
First, I hate to say this, but the general idea behind the report -- that there is a substantial possibility of right-wing violence in our future -- is probably true. I predicted it almost half a year ago:
Obama's party will not only control the White House but both houses of Congress. I don't expect them to be magnanimous in victory. They have suffered (how they have suffered!) eight years of not getting their way, and they won't have to take it any more. This will make a lot of others feel helpless and unrepresented by the system.This of course is exactly how Obama's party has acted since re-taking power. In fact, they have been quite a bit more in-your-face than I thought they would be. I see no outreach there at all, and a lot of slash, burn, and trample. As I pointed out in these earlier comments, there are some people on the right who, when they feel that the political system has made them powerless, are apt to exert their power in brutal ways. The notion that violent rightwing extremists are a myth is itself a myth. Law enforcement people should indeed be on the lookout for it. I hope they are.
Second, it is true that the Democrats are probably going too far in this direction, but who gave them the opportunity to do so? When the Republicans created this new "security" apparatus, especially the DHS itself, there were plenty of us to predict that, when the Democrats eventually return, they will use it in ways that the Republicans do not approve of. This was a good reason to not make these changes in the first place.
Democrats and Republicans are both similar and different. If you give them an apparatus for snooping and spying, Republicans will sneak around looking for "Islamofascists." Democrats are also willing to sneak around -- they are similar in that way -- but they will be looking for "right wing extremists" instead of "Islamofascists." During the first Islamist attack on American soil -- the original bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 -- the attention of the Clinton Administration was completely absorbed in what they thought was the real threat to America -- those scary gun-toting Christians in Waco TX.
Now that the Republicans have given them the gift of an improved apparatus for living out one's favorite paranoid narrative, we should not be surprised if they once again pursue a narrative that is not the conservative one. We saw this coming years ago. It will not do to start sniveling and whining about it now. Instead of complaining about the people who are using the apparatus, we should look at the apparatus itself.