Last night, the most-viewed story on the L.A. Times web site was a hand-wringer about those Rightwing Extremists.
Titled Right-wing extremists seen as a threat, the deck headline reads: “A Homeland Security report says right-wing groups are on the rise because of fears about Obama and the recession.” And the story opens:
The economic downturn and the election of the nation’s first black president are contributing to a resurgence of right-wing extremist groups, which had been on the wane since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment distributed to state and local authorities last week.
The report, produced by the Department of Homeland Security, has triggered a backlash among conservatives because it also raised the specter that disgruntled veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might “boost the capabilities of extremists . . . to carry out violence.”
That’s not the only reason, L.A. Times!
Also very problematic is the fact that the report specifically lists certain conservative beliefs as characteristic of extremism groups, warning of groups that “reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority” or “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” The report at the end promises to monitor such worrisome possible thoughtcrimes:
DHS/I&A will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.
Ed Morrissey reports that Mississippi Rep. Bennie G. Thompson
wants an explanation of what “activities” Napolitano has planned with law enforcement officials to monitor legitimate public political activity, as promised at the end of the DHS report. He called himself “particularly struck” by this statement. And well he might; it promises to have government treat political discourse as a subversive activity.
Were the politics flipped, you would almost certainly see an article from the L.A. Times warning of the dangers of government seemingly pledging to monitor people with disturbing political beliefs. Yet this is not even mentioned as a possibly objectionable aspect of the report! Instead, the article plays up the angle that those damn rightwing extremists are becoming really worrisome, calling the report “the first high-level U.S. intelligence report to call attention to an array of recent domestic developments as potential harbingers of terrorist violence.”
Saved for the 24th paragraph is the fact that there was a similar report in January about leftwing extremists — and even then, it is cited only as evidence that the government is being evenhanded. Which, by the way, is not true, as that report is nowhere near as politically charged as the one about “rightwing extremism,” which (unlike the one about leftwing extremism) focuses on standard beliefs as evidence of extremism.
And if the leftwing extremism report really was the analogue to this one, then where was the L.A. Times report about it?
P.S. Meanwhile, at UNC Chapel-Hill, Tom Tancredo, a man who has is virtually “dedicated to a single issue” (namely, that red-flag issue of “immigration”) tried to make a speech — but was shouted down by the voices of moderation, who disrupted his speech, broke a window, and chanted “We know where you sleep at night!”
I feel pretty confident that this episode will end up as part of a hefty government document on left-wing extremism that will be breathlessly reported in the L.A. Times.