As many of you know, the Department of Homeland Security has produced a report which mentioned dangers from right wing extremists. Predictably, this has caused a ring wing meltdown. I say predictably, because pretty much everything causes a right wing meltdown these days.
Talk show radio host Michael Savage has sued the Department of Homeland Security, and apparently Janet Napolitano specifically.
"It is a civil rights action brought under the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution, challenging the policy, practice, and custom of the United States Government that targets for disfavored treatment those individuals and groups that are considered to be 'rightwing extremists,'" the complaint announced today said.
Folks, this is a report. There are no changes of law implicit in it whatsoever, and it doesn't change in the slightest the way that anyone, from Homeland Security or local police, responds to a threat. It's like a memo, advising people of what problems our current social situation might send our way. So how has anyone been targeted? What is the purpose of his lawsuit? To make them take the memo back?
Not all corners have reacted as such. According a story by CNN, the generally sober Veterans of Foreign Wars defended the report.
Glen M. Gardner Jr., the national commander of the 2.2 million-member VFW, said the assessment "should have been worded differently" but served a vital purpose.
"A government that does not assess internal and external security threats would be negligent of a critical public responsibility," he said in a statement.
Yet it was the section on veterans that caused controversy among conservative politicians and some veterans. It said "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks." It cited Timothy McVeigh, who returned from military service and went on to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995.
"Timothy McVeigh was only one of more than 42 million veterans who have worn this nation's uniform during wartime," wrote Rehbein, the American Legion commander. "To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical 'disgruntled military veteran' is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam."
Quite right. Which is why it's fortunate that noone has done that.
When the report states that someone else might react as Timothy McVeigh did, that is no way like stating that he is the sole example of our veterans. Specifically, they are saying that somebody, somewhere with military training might be recruited by radicals. That doesn't sound out of line to me. They don't characterize Timothy McVeigh as being normal, they characterize him as representing a threat which may emerge again, which law enforcement should pay attention to.
Naturally, Rush Limbaugh has weighed in on the subject, apparently able to read special words hidden in the report we cannot.
"You have a report from Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama, Department of Homeland Security, portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than al Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong Il," he said, referring to the leader of North Korea.
Rush Limbaugh, taken from the story by CNN
Really? Where does the report state that? I've read it line by line, word for word, and nowhere did I read that statement. The report is rather clearly talking about militia groups and white-supremacy movements. So far as I know, neither group represents typical conservatives. As a matter of fact, the report never mentions Kim Jong II at all.
I have an idea. Why don't those of you who haven't read the report and yet think it's the worst assault on conservatism ever go take the time read it. I downloaded it, here's a link to my page where I've stored the document.
Link to report located here.
The fascinating thing about all this hysteria is that conservatives are customarily the people who have worn the cloak of patriotism and assured us that we must trust in our government. Now a report is issued, which simply states that in the future there might be a problem, and we should be watchful. This is now pronounced as an attack upon all conservatives.
When a report of left wing extremism by the same department was produced, did liberals run out into the streets and began screaming of the coming apocalypse, and detention camps which Obama would no doubt force upon us? Of course not, because we aren't in a permanent state of hysterics.
The irony in this situation, which our present breed of conservatives don't understand, is that by reacting to the report in this manner, they are proving the very existence of the problem that this report briefly touches upon.
Conservatives today are hysterical and afraid. They fear President Obama so much that they are waiting for a harsh word, for a single misstep. A tiny raise in taxes for a small segment of the population is pronounced socialism, and though no legislation has been passed, prepared or even discussed in this area, they scream about their guns being taken away, about detention camps for their numbers, and god knows what else. It isn't necessary for Obama to actually take any actions, they presume the worst of him.
And this is particularly why this report needed to be written. Not issuing it would have been an injustice, because they would have been ignoring a problem for political reasons. The response to this report, at some levels, proves the need for the report.
The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.
Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don't have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.
We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.
Taken from a release from the Department of Homeland Security.
A fair and reasoned response, to a very unfair and irrational panic.
This article as well has others have been seeded to my own private blog, located here.