My my my. The right, led by Michelle Malkin, is up in arms over the Department of Homeland Security's internal intelligence report on right-wing extremism and its post-Obama resurgence.
Malkin's headline wails:
"The Obama DHS Hit Job on Conservatives Is Real"
So, I have a question for Malkin: Are you saying that mainstream conservatives are now right-wing extremists?
Because, you know, the report -- which in fact is perfectly accurate in every jot and tittle -- couldn't be more clear. It carefully delineates that the subject of its report is "rightwing extremists," "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups," "terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks," "white supremacists," and similar very real threats described in similar language.
Nothing about conservatives. The word never appears in the report.
Because, you know, we always thought there was a difference between right-wing extremists and mainstream conservatives too. My new book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, does explain that the distance between them has in fact shrunk considerably, thanks to the help of people like Malkin.
And now she's evidently intent on shrinking it further:
By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives. And the intent is clear. As the two spokespeople I talked with on the phone today made clear: They both pinpointed the recent “economic downturn” and the “general state of the economy” for stoking “rightwing extremism.” One of the spokespeople said he was told that the report has been in the works for a year. My b.s. detector went off the chart, and yours will, too, if you read through the entire report — which asserts with no evidence that an unquantified “resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalizations activity” is due to home foreclosures, job losses, and…the historical presidential election.
Well, Michelle, it's an "indictment of conservatives" if you say so. The report itself, in fact, is all about accurately identifying very real looming threats. And, while it's obvious Malkin hasn't been paying attention, there in fact is considerable data coming over the transom to indicate that there's a real problem looming with the far right.
Don't forget: Before he'd even been sworn into office, we had skinheads [photo above] being arrested for plotting Obama's assassination.
Malkin complains that the report indulges in "anti-military bigotry" by warning that returning veterans who have been radicalized, or were already right-wing extremists, are a particular threat:
(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.
Well, as we've reported previously, this is in fact a well-identified problem. The FBI says so too:
Military experience—ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces—is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement. FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color.
... The prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.
... Military experience—often regardless of its length or type—distinguishes one within the extremist movement. While those with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, FBI investigations indicate they frequently have higher profiles within the movement, including recruitment and leadership roles.
Yet quoth Malkin:
There’s no hackneyed left-wing stereotype of conservatives left behind in this DHS intelligence and analysis assessment. I asked both DHS spokespeople to tell me who, specifically, the report was accusing of “rightwing extremist chatter” and which “antigovernment” groups are being monitored as “extremists.” They say they’ll get back to me.
I'd be astonished if any of the groups identified by right-leaning law-enforcement organizations like the FBI and DHS were actually anything identifiably mainstream conservative -- though of course it's important to remember that hate groups like VDare -- which runs Malkin's column at their website -- the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and American Renaissance have been doing their damnedest to blur that line over the years. And sites like Free Republic are rife with extreme Patriot-style rhetoric, too.
Look, however, at some of the things the report says:
Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.
(U) Economic Hardship and Extremism
(U//FOUO) Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects of a failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.
Everything about this is exactly accurate in every detail. But it also reminds people like Malkin just how much they themselves have been trafficking in this kind of extremism. She may not intend to be helping inflame white supremacists -- but she is.
What's actually happened is this: The DHS accidentally held a mirror up to Michelle Malkin. And she's shrieking at the self-recognition.
Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.