Friday, April 24, 2009

Right-wing Extremism in the US: Ressurgence, Radicalization and Recruitment

The Department of Homeland Security released a 10-page document on April 7, 2009 with a title nearly the same as that of this post.  The one startling difference is this addition: Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.  [ link]

At least the DHS is aware of these far-right-wing groups, well-armed and easily propagandized. My additional caveat is this: they often exhibit anti-social personality disorder.  Not only that, but, when in a group setting, ASPD feeds on and grows from an association with others who exhibit these traits.  It is a caustic mixture, to be sure, not unlike adolescent gang-think.

The document begins with this statement:

This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be conducted in an overt and transparent clearly identifying United States Government sponsorship.

'To influence domestic public opinion...' That's what the DHS says.  Of course, that assumes that the 'public' even knows about this internal domestic threat.  I wonder how many Americans, even bloggers, knew of the release of this report?  If few of us even knew of this HSD investigation and report, then how could the Federal Government expect any kind of 'influence' on the citizenry?  Very disturbing indeed.

Here is what both the DHS and I worry about:

"Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first
African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new
members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal
through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning

Well, that last statement is reassuring if it can be believed. Yet I am not stupid enough to believe that the DHS has identified ALL right-wing, white-supremacist sleeper cells in America. Yet, the DHS may be stating this fact as part of a disinformation effort.

Here is another statement by the DHS:

"Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past."

Exactly the point I made in a comment earlier this morning before I became aware of this DHS document. We have the history of post WWI Germany as an excellent example of what can happen to a people whose economic future is in jeopardy.

Here is a third observation by the DHS:

"The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of
military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities
could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists
capable of carrying out violent attacks.

The pro-gun, Second Amendment lobby is in full gear [as the comments to this blog have shown] and its members are enthusiastically active in attempting to maintain the gun laws that the Bush-Cheney Administration rendered for the past 8 years. Any attempt to ban assault rifles, for example, is met with virulent resistance. One can imagine the 'chatter' that must ensue when right-wing extremists'discuss' this issue.

Here is the 4th observation by the DHS:

"Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government. The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement."

Exactly the point I have already made. This 'anticipated stockpiling of weapons and ammunition' ought to be taken very seriously by the public. It has become clear in the past month or so how much damage can be inflicted by one nut with an automatic weapon. it doesn't take too much imagination to anticipate the wholesale slaughter that can result from an extremist militia with a stockpile of these weapons. Not only that, but these militia members are highly experienced with such weapons, highly motivated, and often suffer from delusions brought about by their anti-social personality disorder.

The amount of damage, death, destruction and mayhem that a knot of right-wing extremist militia members can inflict on our American society is enormously frightening. One needs only to recall what one of them did to Oklahoma City all by himself.

Here is the 5th concern raised by the DHS:

"Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities."

This is serious stuff! These returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans no doubt already suffer PTSD; they have just left a war zone; they face a difficult re-entry into a society that is experiencing an economic recession. These factors alone ought to raise many red flags as they rejoin society. Yet, as the DHS warns, they can be easily propagandized by these right-wing extremists given their current 'readjustment' situation.

The irony of this 'returning veterans' scenario must not be overlooked. These men and women returning from duty in Iraq were led to believe, by the Bush-Cheney Administration, that they were on an important mission to save America from a possible WMD's assault by a dangerous dictator. They fought, bled and many of their comrades died for 'the cause.'

Now at home, they can easily find out that this WMD threat, the smoking gun-nuclear cloud scenario was a hoax perpetrated by a knot of neocon ideologues in the White House.

Imagine their anger. I cannot.

Their 'government' lied to them.

Their 'government' sent them on an unnecessary mission.

Their 'government' ruined their psyche, their limbs, their dreams.

Here is the most important question that must be asked about DHS point #5: will these returning veterans be able to separate the 'government' of Bush and Cheney from the 'government' of Obama and Biden? Or, will it all blur into one?

I don't know this answer and it frightens me all to hell!

Lefty Blogs