The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Techology/Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division released a report this past winter. In it they claim “more than 2,600 terrorist events occurred in the United States between 1970 and 2008.” Rob Port of the SayAnything Blog says this doesn’t pass the “smell test.”
That’s an absurd amount of “terrorism” that breaks down to no fewer than 68 terrorist incidents per year nation wide, or about one incident every five days.
Clearly, there are some serious problems with how they’re defining “terrorism” here. While I’m sure the crimes they track are quite serious, I don’t think most of us would consider incidents that common to be meeting the commonly understood definition of “terrorism.”
The number is pretty high until you consider their definition of who qualifies as being a domestic terrorist, on pg. 11-12 of the report we see:
Extreme Right-Wing: groups that believe that one’s personal and/or national “way of life” is under attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent (for some the threat is from a specific ethnic, racial, or religious group), and believe in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism. Groups may also be fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation), anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty, and believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.
Extreme Left-Wing: groups that want to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes. This category also includes secular left-wing groups that rely heavily on terrorism to overthrow the capitalist system and either establish “a dictatorship of the proletariat” (Marxist-Leninists) or, much more rarely, a decentralized, non-hierarchical political system (anarchists).
Religious: groups that seek to smite the purported enemies of God and other evildoers, impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists), forcibly insert religion into the political sphere (e.g., those who seek to politicize religion, such as Christian Reconstructionists and Islamists), and/or bring about Armageddon (apocalyptic millenarian cults; 2010: 17). For example,Jewish Direct Action, Mormon extremist, Jamaat-al-Fuqra, and Covenant, Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) are included in this category.
Ethno-Nationalist/Separatist: regionally concentrated groups with a history of organized political autonomy with their own state, traditional ruler, or regional government, who are committed to gaining or regaining political independence through any means and who have supported political movements for autonomy at some time since 1945.
Single Issue: groups or individuals that obsessively focus on very specific or narrowly-defined causes (e.g., anti-abortion, anti-Catholic, anti-nuclear, anti-Castro). This category includes groups from all sides of the political spectrum. (emphasis mine)
Do you notice a difference between how the “extreme right-wing” category and “extreme left-wing” categories are described? The report is critical of ideology of the right wing groups or individuals. With the left wing groups it defines the group as terrorist based on their tactics. I also find it interesting they lump Christian Reconstructionists in with Islamists. Now unless there is an actual group out there called “Christian Reconstructionists,” I have to believe they are referring to Christian Reconstructionism which is a movement in evangelical Christianity which calls for Christians to put their faith into action in all areas of their life (evil huh?) both public and private. Now certainly there are beliefs related to this movement with which I do not agree. I have a hard time keeping a straight face seeing them mentioned in a report on terrorism however.
Just how many people have they killed? Also beyond the few individuals who have committed murder (which have been denounced by prolife groups) why are anti-abortion groups and individuals mentioned?
This really isn’t anything new you may remember the Department of Homeland Security did something similar in 2009.
The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
Based on their earlier definition, the Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, Tea Party National Right to Life Committee, the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation for instance are all one in the same. Under this newer report those who are lovers of individual liberty and are suspicious of a federal centralized authority are considered right-wing extremists. You’re only a left-wing extremist if you use violence.