Free Markets, Free People

rightwing extremism


SPLC: Giffords’ shooter “absorbed … ideas from … radical right”

The Southern Poverty Law Center is again pitching its slanted quarterly “Intelligence Report” in which it shockingly (/sarc) finds over “1,000 hate groups” on the right.

Wow. 

What a surprise. 

Don’t forget, this has to do with whatever the SPLC decides constitutes “hate” and apparently that means pretty much whatever it decides fits its agenda of giving the left  a pass and demonizing the right.  The prefect example of that is how it treats the shooting in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

That’s in addition to the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, an attack that left six dead that same month. The assailant appeared to be severely mentally ill, but he also seemed to have absorbed certain ideas from the radical right, including the notion that the federal government is evil.

Everyone but the SPLC seems to disagree with the notion that he was motivated by any particular ideology or a certain type of ideas.   He was all over the place.   Additionally, and inconveniently, the notion that the “federal government is evil” certainly isn’t an exclusive idea of the radical right if the weathermen, SDS, and any number of left-wing groups from the 60s and 70s are any indication.  Ask Bill Ayers. Consult with the plethora of black liberation and black separatist movements.

The point, of course, is their treatment of Loughner’s attempt on Giffords is indicative of their ability to rationalize anything they wish too into “right-wing extremism” and thus “hate”.  It plays perfectly into their desired theme of an alarming rise of right wing hate groups, whether true or not.

And that’s pretty much how their tagging of other right-wing and “extremist” groups (aka “hate groups”) goes as well.  Here’s the key to the SPLC’s “findings”:

“Far-right extremists remain highly energized, even as politicians across the country co-opt many of the radical ideas and issues that are important to them,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report. “This success in having their voices heard in the political arena, where they have long occupied the fringe of conservative thought, might eventually take the wind out of their sails, but so far we’re not seeing any sign of that.

Some of the “radical ideas” the politicians across the country have “co-opt[ed]?”  Well here’s a short list as I’ve observed them:

  • Immigration laws should be followed and enforced
  • Government should spend less
  • Government should regulate less
  • Government should be smaller
  • Government should be less intrusive
  • Politicians should be held accountable

Association with any group which might espouse such things (don’t worry, most of the Founding Fathers would fall into the SPLC’s definition of radical right-wing fanatics and members of “hate” groups) and is actively promoting them puts you in the "antigovernment Patriot movement“ whether you like it or not. And of course that makes you a member of a ‘conspiracy minded organization’ which sees the federal government as the "primary enemy".

Add “nativist groups” and plain old vanilla right-wing hate groups and you have an “alarming rise” in hate groups on the right.

The biggest rise among right-wing haters, per the SPLC,  is a single “movement” that apparently most threatens the left.  The SPLC dutifully takes them on and categorizes them as hate groups in order to demonize them:

But the most dramatic growth in the radical right came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. These conspiracy-minded organizations, which see the federal government as their primary enemy, grew by 61 percent over the previous year. Their numbers increased to 824 groups in 2010, from 512 groups a year earlier. Previously, the only higher count of Patriot groups came in 1996, during the movement’s heyday, when the SPLC found 858 groups. Militias, the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement, grew from 127 groups to 330 – a 160 percent increase.

Never mentioned by name, the obvious “growth” in the “radical right” came from Tea Party groups forming.  And, as with much of the left, the SPLC attempts to lay “hate” at the foundation of the Tea Party’s formation:

The number of active hate groups in the United States topped 1,000 for the first time and the antigovernment “Patriot” movement expanded dramatically for the second straight year as the radical right showed continued explosive growth in 2010.

Several factors fueled the growth: resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government.

I follow the news fairly closely, but I’ve seen no “mainstreaming of conspiracy theories”.  “Obama is a Muslim” – mainstreamed? Ignored for the most part?  Birthers?  Same same.  And the right isn’t exclusive in this area – just ask the truthers, a group and “conspiracy” completely ignored by the SPLC when it was at its peak (it still exists, btw).

Certainly “Patriot groups” have risen because of government profligacy, frustration over the economy (and government’s role in hurting it even further), but I’m at a loss to remember anything about that movement that seemed concerned with “changing racial demographics” and “demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities”, do you? 

Government and government excess/intrusion  has been the primary focus of those groups the SPLC has chosen to demonize by labeling them “hate groups”.  

Are there fringe right-wing extremists?  Of course.  Just as there are fringe left-wing extremists.  But they’re such a tiny portion of the population on each side of the ideological divide as to be negligible .  Unless you’re the SPLC, that is, and your bread and butter is finding hate where none exists so you can denounce it, play to the paranoia of the left and get them to send you money.

We should help the SPLC set up some better criteria for assessing hate, don’t you think?

Here, for the SPLC,  is a check list of some things to look for among real hate groups provided by John Sexton (I’ve added the last one).  I assume we’ll see this bunch in SPLC’s next sensationalized “Intelligence Report” denouncing them as left-wing “hate groups”, no?

  • Violent rhetoric? Check. Double check.
  • Unhinged political analogies? Check.
  • Hilter signs? Check.
  • Crosshairs on politicians. Check.
  • Anger and cursing? Check.  Double check.
  • Shoving? Check.
  • Racial overtones? Check.
  • Astroturfing by national organizations? Check.
  • Assault? Check.

~McQ


You Might Be A Right-Wing Extremist If …

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, the Department of Homeland Security has apparently decided it is necessary to warn the nation’s law enforcement agencies about a new and growing threat – right-wing extremists.

For instance, you  might be a right-wing extremist if you’re a member of any groups:

“…that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration …”

The report, entitled “Right-Wing Extremism – Current Economic and Political Climate Refueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”, doesn’t mention whether those who are on the left and dedicated to single-issues, such as support for abortion or unlimited immigration might be extremists as well.

You can read the report here. (pdf)

David Weigel of the Washington Independent has trouble understanding the right-wing outrage this report sparks:

Seriously, though, I struggle to find anything wrong in a close — not a willfully obtuse — reading of the report.

Well maybe it’s the little things, David – like the apparent belief by DHS that any problem brewing domestically will occur only on the right. And perhaps it is implication that soldiers are likely to succumb to the draw of radical right-wingers:

Returning 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.

Of course they have to go back to the early ’90s and Timothy McVeigh to substantiate this claim. Apparently they’ve been unable to find any more recent possible problems on which to pin their caution. And of course they also use as intel a claim made on a white-supremacist web-site which claimed (without any proof) that “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.”

Well, there you go!

My favorite “you might be a right-wing extremist if” moment came with this little tidbit from DHS:

Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.

The “perceived loss of US jobs?!” Heh … well I guess we won’t need all of that ‘stimulus’ money for unemployment if they’re only perceived losses, huh? But look at the topics – “extremist chatter” focuses on “the economy … jobs … and home forclosures?” Heck, then half the news media is extremist. And we here at QandO fall into that camp. And that’s with a less than obtuse reading of the sentence above, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Weigel?

And of course, DHS covers guns, gun laws and the current gun buying spree in a rather amusing way:

Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred rightwing extremists—as well as law-abiding Americans—to make bulk purchases of ammunition. These shortages have increased the cost of ammunition, further exacerbating rightwing extremist paranoia and leading to further stockpiling activity.  Both rightwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime rates attributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise move at this time.

So when you buy that gun and ammo, which is it? Is it because you’re a paranoid rightwing extremist or a law abiding citizen who thinks such a purchase is a “wise move at this time”? Only DHS knows for sure. But if you’ve happened to write about the “perceived loss of US jobs”, the economy or “home foreclosures” on the internet and are a military veteran, I imagine you can figure out into which category you fall (heh … me included).

And don’t you dare be a state’s rights guy who believes that the federal government should respect the 10th Amendment:

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.

In all, DHS is convinced that the economic downturn along with the “historic Presidental election”, code for “hey, we elected a black guy”, ensures a return to the ’90s and the rise of skin heads and militias.

By the way, you weren’t supposed to know about any of this.

LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION NOTICE: This product contains Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information. No portion of the LES information should be released to the media, the general public, or over non-secure Internet servers. Release of this information could adversely affect or jeopardize investigative activities.

In reality it contains a bunch of warmed over nonsense, conjecture and unsubstantiated cites from anonymous websites. But remember, don’t tell anyone in the media about this BS passed off as “Intelligence and Analysis” because if they ever got wind of it they’d conclude there was very little analysis or intelligence on display in the document – and we wouldn’t want to embarrass DHS, would we?

Hope and change.

~McQ