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Friday, April 17, 2009

Get ready for the roundup.

As everyone has probably been made aware already, the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a report on Right-wing Extremism stating that it's on the rise because of the new administration. There are many problems I personally have with this report especially because the language is so broad that it could be used to do some very scary things in the future.
First, I resent the label "right-wing" being used for groups like the KKK and other racist organizations. It seems to be inaccurate since Lincoln was a Republican and the Klan started in the South, which is primarily Democrat because of the Civil War. I suppose militia groups uphold gun rights, which is a right-wing position, but the implication of the report is that racism is a right-wing thing. It's not.
Secondly, the report lists people who believe in the balance of federalism as potential enemies of the state. The federal government has lately been attaching some very frightening strings to the money it gives out. Banks are trying to return TARP loans and the government is refusing so they can maintain a stake in the banks. They forced the CEO of GM, a private company, to resign because the company foolishly accepted taxpayer money for a bailout. Despite the bailout, GM is still expected to file bankruptcy. We get the same result, but now the government has control of the company, which they bought with your money. They are telling the governor of S. Carolina that he can't refuse stimulus money, but he can't spend it the way he sees fit. He wants to pay down state debt, but the federal government says the money must be spent to set up education programs that the taxpayers of the state will not be able to afford, since they have a deficit already from existing programs. The DHS report is worded so broadly that it could be interpreted that people who have a problem with the above mentioned power-grabs are "extremist". Even Robert Byrd, Democratic Senator of West Virginny (and former Klan member, I might add) says that this administration is constitutionally out of line because of the "czar" positions he is creating, positions of authority that aren't elected by the people, yet have final say over many policy issues (above and beyond the say of the elected representatives).
Thirdly, the report lists as potentially dangerous extremists those who focus on one issue, like abortion. Who do we know who focuses heavily on life-issues? Any Catholic worth their salt. Pro-life people statistically are not violent. Since 1977 there have been 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 4 kidnappings, and 216 arsons committed against abortionists/abortion mills (according to The DHS report fails to cite any new and recent incidents to support the claim that pro-life "extremists" are on the move. This seems, then, like a non-factual way to throw suspicion on the peaceful pro-life majority, especially since our bishops have actually been speaking out on life matters recently.
The report also throws suspicion on people for buying guns and stocking up on ammunition. There is actually a very good, non-extremist reason for people to be doing that. Obama has a very non-vague record on gun-control and has floated the idea of taxing ammunition to make it harder for people who own guns to actually be able to use them. Our right to bear arms (and have a militia without being called extremist, for that matter) is protected by the constitution. People own guns for hunting, to practice target shooting, and to protect their homes and families. When someone breaks into your home, it is a lot more comforting to be able to protect them yourself instead of having to wait for the cops to show up and worrying what will happen in the meantime. People who have this practical view can, by the vagueness of the DHS report, be labelled extremists because their behavior is listed as potentially extremist. The man in Scranton Heights, PA, who shot and killed three police officers is held up as an example because he supposedly was afraid of Obama taking away gun rights. What about the man LA who shot and killed four police officers? He was also a rapist, but because he's not "right-wing", he's not an enemy of the state.
Basically, the report seems to make sweeping generalizations that anyone conservative is potentially dangerous. There are no specific groups listed, except racist groups, just political points of view that should be red-flags. This scares me because the average person who hears news without critically examining it (we are a pretty apathetic nation) gets the impression that pro-lifers, hunting enthusiasts, and veterans are dangerous, just like they got the impression that Obama was well-spoken and politically moderate, and that Michelle Obama doesn't hate this country. I worry about the seeds of division being sown by Janet Napolitano and what fruit they might bear.