Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dissent or Threat?

If the Obama administration wanted to criminalize political dissent, is this what the start of it would look like?

The Department of Homeland Security has released a report entitled, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." Follow the link. John Hinderaker at PowerLine does a fine job of analyzing the report.

The most troubling aspect of this is that "rightwing extremism" is loosely defined -- loosely enough to include millions of Americans who simply disagree with the current administrations' policies. Here's an example, from the report:

"Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment."

So, anyone who is antagonistic toward open borders, increased entitlements, and government attempts to rein in the Second Amendment, is a national security threat? Here, I had been thinking it was simply a matter of political disagreement.

And is this not rich, coming from an administration that launched its political campaign from a soiree at the home of a 1960s leftist radical who actually did some things that could be considered terrorist -- like, for example, bomb the Pentagon?

Granted, there was a security study done by the government in the past on leftwing radicalism, but the report was highly specific, focusing on a few well-identified organizations and on a specified set of activities. The report on the rightwingers, on the other hand, is marvelously unspecific and doesn't seem to point to any actual acts of terrorism; only the "potential" for such terrorism is hinted at, ominously.

And how about this corker:

From the report: "Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally [my emphasis] fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent."

Translation: "Darned First Amendment."

Hinderaker's conclusion:

Hinderaker: "It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this Homeland Security report is politically motivated, and reflects the authors' political prejudices more than an objective evaluation of a significant terrorist threat. In that context, the report's conclusion seems a bit ominous:

"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."

Note to conservatives: Be careful out there among them English.


Sonja said...

This is chilling isn't it?

Lee said...

It's going to get worse. Hopefully, before it gets better.