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January 18, 2013 12:50 PM Can “Patriots” Be Terrorists?

By Ed Kilgore

A new study has been published by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combatting Terrorism Center analyzing the potential threat of far-right groups espousing violence to achieve their goals.

Like a DHS-authorized study in 2009 on the same topic, this paper is drawing predictable outrage in right-wing circles (though it’s not clear yet whether the pressure will produce denials and apologies from the administration, as happened in 2009).

Here’s the lurid description of the West Point study by Rowan Scaraborough of the Washington Times:

The West Point center typically focuses reports on al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists attempting to gain power in Asia, the Middle East and Africa through violence. But its latest study turns inward and paints a broad brush of people it considers “far right.”
It says anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.”
The report also draws a link between the mainstream conservative movement and the violent “far right,” and describes liberals as “future oriented” and conservatives as living in the past.

And here’s the pivot from carping to freaking-out, courtesy of some anonymous GOP congressional staffer:

A Republican congressional staffer who served in the military told The Washington Times: “If [the Defense Department] is looking for places to cut spending, this junk study is ground zero.
“Shouldn’t the Combating Terrorism Center be combating radical Islam around the globe instead of perpetuating the left’s myth that right-wingers are terrorists?” the staffer said. “The $64,000 dollar question is when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?”

As a matter of fact, most government-backed analyses of domestic terrorism threats cover left-wing and right-wing extremists together, and the FBI did a particular study on “eco-terrorism” quite recently. This is aside from classified materials, and the rather robust interest of federal law enforcement authorities in left-oriented anarchist groups.

But putting aside the question of “balance” in studying different kinds of terrorism threats, is there a reason experts should be particularly concerned about right-wing activity right now? Gee, think it could have something to do with the constant assertions, even in respectable conservative periodicals, that “patriots” need to stockpile military weapons in order to undertake (if so dictated by their perceptions of endangered essential “liberties,” which may include freedom from Obamacare or from progressive taxes) the violent overthrow of the United States government?

The conservative movement really does need to distance itself from “right to revolution” talk, particularly when connected to absolutist notions of “legitimate” or “American” governing models for the nation. If that’s too much to ask, then conservatives need to stop carping every time the rest of us get a little worried about armed-to-the-teeth wingnuts shrieking hatred at the duly elected U.S. government.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Ron Byers on January 18, 2013 12:55 PM:

    I have two words for those who deny the existence of right wing terrorists. Oklahoma City.

  • paul on January 18, 2013 1:13 PM:

    Public threats to kill people if there's a political result you don't like are pretty much the textbook definition of terrorism. So maybe "conservatives" should stop doing that.

  • c u n d gulag on January 18, 2013 1:14 PM:

    "...when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?”

    Well, in all honest, I can understand how this clown feels this way.

    After all, The Weather Underground and ACORN were responsible for that KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistAtheistMuslim Usurpers election and reelection.
    With help from the Brooklyn Dodgers and Dodo's.

  • g on January 18, 2013 1:29 PM:

    "The Weather Underground?" Seriously? Try a history book, Congressman.

  • John on January 18, 2013 1:33 PM:

    Can we please call a spade a spade?

    If that's too much to ask, then conservatives need to stop carping every time the rest of us get a little worried about armed-to-the-teeth wingnuts shrieking hatred at the duly elected U.S. government.

    These armed-to-the-teeth wingnuts are stockpiling weapons to kill American police and American soldiers.

  • Josef K on January 18, 2013 2:04 PM:

    Just out of curiousity, would it be fair comment to note that the current GOP has its roots within the KKK, and therefore was effectively birthed from domestic terrorism?

    Again, just curious.

  • rdale on January 18, 2013 2:08 PM:

    It says anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights." Ha ha, welcome to Utah!

  • Chuck on Piggott on January 18, 2013 3:36 PM:

    I wondered about that "Weather Underground" reference as well. How old, or young is this yahoo?

  • Peter C on January 18, 2013 3:56 PM:

    During the Bush Administration, it's been pretty well documented that the Quakers were infiltrated. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0116-09.htm

    Personally, I've never felt very threatened by any Quakers.

    Perhaps Rowan was too embarrassed to mention them or Code Pink.

    Cowardly people are afraid of all sorts of things, even environmentalists and animal lovers, I guess.

  • AbbieHoffman on January 18, 2013 3:59 PM:

    This is the biggest line of BS I have ever heard.
    I am a registered Democrat I voted Clinton, Kerry, Obama and Obama. But I believe in the constitution. the Constitution is what America is. And every real liberal Democrat believes in the constitution. And just because I am upset over the infringement of our constitution namely the second amendment that does not make me a far right conservative or a terrorist. NO! NO! NO! That is wrong on so many levels and a huge lie! All this is is a lie, and propaganda to scare and brainwash Americans into thinking there is only 2 sides and thats it, And this promotes taking more of our freedoms and civil liberties away from us and if we disagree they call us terrorists. Well you are wrong! Like I said I am a liberal democrat But just because I am a democrat that does not mean I support destroying the constitution of the united states. Don't let them talk you into giving up you'r country! Its time for all Democrats and Republicans to speak up for America And what this wonderful country stands for. And tell the truth about who the people are trying to destroy our constitution. I think the people who did this study are terrorists. Anything Fascist is terrorism to me. And that study was nothing but old fashioned 1930's Nazi Germany Fascism. Please fellow democrats you once believed in America. Don't fall down the same path the republicans did during the idiotic and tyrannical G W Bush Years.

  • Mitch on January 18, 2013 5:03 PM:

    @AbbieHoffman,

    So how, exactly, was the study "destroying the constitution of the united states" or fascism?

    Are you denying that there are Right Wing groups and people who are dangerous? Because that's just nonsense. There are dangerous groups on the Right ... and the Left.

    Indeed, if you actually read Ed's post, then you had to notice where he wrote:

    "As a matter of fact, most government-backed analyses of domestic terrorism threats cover left-wing and right-wing extremists together, and the FBI did a particular study on “eco-terrorism” quite recently."

    I'm having a difficult time believing that you are a "liberal Democrat" as you claim. Because, well, most of us on the Dem side of the fence don't throw a fit when extreme lefties are studied, let alone extreme righties.

    Yeah, keep in mind ... this a Study. A study. A study of potentially violent groups. Nobody is being rounded up or sent to a gulag. Comparing this study to German Fascism is an insult to all of those who suffered and died as a result of or while fighting that Fascism.

    In case you never noticed, there are a lot of crazy groups out there. They have and will commit violent acts of terrorism for their ideology. Keeping an eye on them is not an "infringement of our constitution" ... it's the JOB of our government officials to do so. Remember every single government official who pledged to defend our Constitution against "enemies, both foreign and domestic."

    So, are you suggesting that they forget their oath and ignore possible domestic enemies of life and liberty?

    Because I, for one, am rather liberal, and very much a lover of the environment ... but in no way would I view the government studying possible eco-terrorists an action against the Constitution. Even if those suspected eco-terrorists vote exactly the same as I do.

    So do you really mean anything that you wrote up above, or are you just a troll?

    I'm kind of leaning towards troll.

  • HMDK on January 18, 2013 6:42 PM:

    Haha... nice. Calling yourself Abbie Hoffman and making that spiel. It's inspired. By what kind of insanity I'm not quite sure, yet... but heh.