Think Progress’s Ken Sofer and Molly Bernstein report on the REAL threats to the safety and security of American citizens today:
Though the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City happened nearly two decades ago, (17 years ago on April 19) right-wing extremist terrorism remains a significant domestic threat to American security. The Department of Homeland Security released a report in 2009 stating that the economic and political climate bears important similarities to the conditions of the early 1990s when right-wing extremism experienced a dramatic resurgence. These conditions, including the public debate around hot-button issues such as immigration, gun control, and abortion, along with the election of the first African-American president, present “unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment,” the report said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano eventually ordered the report withdrawn because of significant political backlash from mainstream conservatives. But the report, which was originally commissioned by the Bush administration, also found that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”
A look at terrorist incidents since the Oklahoma City bombing, including both successful and disrupted ideologically-motivated attacks, backs up the conclusions of the DHS report:
Fifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, as compared to 30 percent by ecoterrorists and 12 percent by Islamic extremists. Right-wing extremism has been responsible for the greatest number of terrorist incidents in the U.S. in 13 of the 17 years since the Oklahoma City bombing.
After DHS withdrew the report, the department cut the number of analysts studying non-Islamic domestic terrorism. Daryl Johnson, the primary author of the report and a self-described Republican, soon left his post at DHS and said in July, 2011 that DHS has “just one person” dealing with domestic terrorism. The Department has largely been silent on domestic terrorist threats ever since.
Although current statistics show that right-wing extremism is on the rise through groups like the Sovereign Citizen and Patriot movements, domestic counterterrorism continues to receive few resources and little public attention. Though Islamic extremism remains a significant domestic security threat, current statistics and incidents such as Oklahoma City show that it is far from the only threat. In order to protect American citizens, we need to match our resources to the reality of our threats, not just the politically expedient narratives we have formed.
As long as the media and average people pretend that ‘both sides do it’ and decide that it’s okay for self-described ‘patriots’ to rabidly hate President Obama, Democrats, and the federal government — and as long as everyone continues to look the other way when right-wing attitudes manifest themselves publicly, in the form of open racism and / or violent rhetoric, we’ll be under threat as a society and a functioning country.
Ask yourself if the fictional right-wing, Fox “News” created, tea party celebrated ‘creeping Sharia law’ is more of a threat to our country than the very real and ongoing use of the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy. Recall Sarah Palin’s creative ‘sniper rifle symbols’ on Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the aftermath. Think of Breitbart-protégé James O’Keefe and his ‘pimp costume’ and ACORN and the fictional Democratic voter fraud issue (as we’ve learned, Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential candidate, actually committed voter fraud).
Or look at the most recent example of our politically correct, both sides do it, national discourse:
The ‘outrage’ for the right was something said by a CNN commentator about a candidate’s wife and was, in fact, entirely true. The ‘outrage’ for the left, which should be an outrage for the entire country, was a thinly-veiled threat against the life of our sitting president, for purposes of demonstrating the speaker’s Southern Strategy bona fides in front of an NRA crowd. With our history of political assassinations and attempted assassinations, should we ever take such rhetoric lightly?
While you think about which outrage received the most national attention and why, you might also ask yourself how your silence on such matters not only contributes to the escalation of ignorance in our national discourse, but encourages some Beck- or Palin-inspired Manchurian candidate to prove his ‘Super Patriotism’ in the form of action. Sort of like this guy, who has been happily expressing his right-wing ideals in court all last week:
[Anders Behring Breivik] identified as his enemy the “cultural Marxists” who he said had destroyed Norway by using it as “a dumping ground for the surplus births of the third world”. Claiming Norwegians would be a minority in their own capital “within five years”, he blamed liberal politicians for bringing about Norway’s demise with “feminism, quotas … transforming the church, schools”.
The 69 people, many of them teenagers, who died on the island of Utøya when he opened fire on the youth camp of the ruling Labour party were “not innocent”, he claimed.
“They were not innocent, non-political children; these were young people who worked to actively uphold multicultural values. Many people had leading positions in the leading Labour party youth wing,” he said, going on to compare the Labour party’s youth wing (AUF) with the Hitler Youth.