Paranoia Breeds Paranoia

They’re Paranoid Because You’re Paranoid Because They’re Paranoid Because…

    The federal government’s latest warning to police agencies about "rightwing extremists" is an outrage and adds fuel to an increasingly volatile situation.  The report, titled, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" was produced by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the FBI.  It consists of 8 pages of what can only be described as paranoid ranting and conflation.  Here is how the report defines "Rightwing extremism:"

    "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."

    With such a definition, DHS could have saved a lot of paper and confusion by simply putting out a statement to law enforcement agencies warning them to be on the lookout for potential terrorists who can be easily identified by the lack of an Obama sticker on the bumper of their Prius.   Instead the report pretends to be a serious analysis of potential threats drawing its information from such notoriously unreliable sources as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League – two groups which have survived and thrived by drawing connections between groups and individuals where no such connections exist.  The logic of these groups goes something like this: Nazi skin-heads oppose gun control; NRA opposes gun control, therefore NRA and Nazi skin-heads are working together and are connected.  Timothy McVeigh frequented gun shows; Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist, therefore gun shows breed terrorists and anyone who attends gun shows should be suspect.

    I fear that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano might be falling into the same paranoia breeding paranoia trap which ensnared former Attorney General Janet Reno and led to the travesties of Ruby Ridge, Waco, and ultimately the Oklahoma City bombing.  None of these events should be looked at in isolation; they were all part of a chain of paranoia which could have, and should have been broken long before things went so far.

    It is mind-boggling that the Obama administration is reaching out to international terrorists and terrorist states – making careful distinctions between radical Islamist terrorists and the Muslim faith – blaming US arrogance and cultural insensitivity for the terrorist attacks of 9-11 – and the same administration actively escalates the disenfranchisement of millions of its own citizens who fear government oppression and a loss of constitutionally guaranteed liberties.  The Obama administration says to foreign terrorists: "We’re sorry we have not been nicer to you.  Can’t we all just all get along?" while at the same time telling millions here at home: "How dare you mistrust us?  If you think we’re going to oppress you then you must be a radical rightwing extremist and a threat so we are going to watch you closely and look at ways to subjugate you and if you resist us and persist in you paranoid fears we will lock you up because you’re too dangerous to be running around loose…"

    Paranoia breeds paranoia.  Mistrust breeds mistrust.  Restriction breeds resistance.  And action breeds reaction and escalation and tragedy.  For the Department of Homeland Security to put out a senseless trash piece like this – which contains NO valid intelligence, NO serious analysis, NO worthwhile recommendations, and NO solutions – is just plain stupid.

    President Obama needs to tell his people to back off of this type of nonsense.  From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Democrat leaders in the House and Senate, President Obama needs to insist that such issues as gun control, abortion, and immigration be dealt with kid gloves if they must be mentioned at all and that no matter what the issue, that they avoid inflammatory rhetoric, disparaging or demonizing labels, and reach out to mitigate fears, not inflame them.  Isn’t that part of the change we were promised?

    Secretary Napolitano released a statement today insisting that the DHS report was just one in an on-going series of informational reports to keep law enforcement apprised of the trends and threats they might be facing.  She said in part, “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people."

    That all sounds great Janet, but did you read the document?  It is nothing more than fear-mongering with no substance and no suggestions.  The only purpose it serves is to increase fear and paranoia among law enforcers and among concerned citizens.  Don’t defend this blather; apologize for it and promise corrective action!

 You can read the full report for yourself by clicking here . (Adobe Acrobat Reader required.)

 Read Secretary Napolitano’s press release here.