It is to be said that the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was on Fox News this morning, apologizing to veterans.
The Secretary had forgotten, earlier, the number one rule of life in DC, if it is a written report, you are likely to see it on the front page of The Washington Post the next day. But, kudos for a good recovery.
The "Right Wing Extremism" report, which was the first of the two I heard about, got under my skin, and that of the Head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, because of the lack of nuance in talking about returning veterans.
DHS/I&A assesses that the combination of environmental factors that echo the 1990s, including heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms restrictions and returning military veterans, as well as several new trends, including an uncertain economy and a perceived rising influence of other countries, may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements. To the extent that these factors persist, rightwing extremism is likely to grow in strength.To this we might add a footnote on page 2.
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.And the report on the Left Wing wasn't much better.
DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines leftwing extremists as groups or individuals who embrace radical elements of the anarchist, animal rights, or environmental movements and are often willing to violate the law to achieve their objectives. Many leftwing extremist groups are not hierarchically ordered with defined members, leaders, or chain of command structures but operate as loosely-connected underground movements composed of “lone wolves,” small cells, and splinter groups.There is not doubt in my mind that there are veterans who go off to the left or the right. But, if they become an animal rights extremist or believe that the Federal Government is out to take away the Bill of Rights and they need to take to the hills to fight it, we should not take them on as an extreme version of normal political discourse, but should group into their own categories.
I don't deny that there are extremists and that they come out of the general population, including veterans and gun rights advocates and those who think that our forests are so important that we need to stop logging no matter what.
But, these kinds of reports, which provide little that is new, do serve as platforms for groups on either side to condemn their political opponents, as in this blog post.
I believe we need to distinguish between small groups and large groups. Large groups of people are for a "right to bear arms" sense of the Second Amendment. That doesn't mean they are members of one militia or another. There is no correlation there. There is a coincidence. People who recycle paper and put a tag on their EMails asking that the recipient not print out the EMail if it is not needed are not the same as those who drive spikes into trees that might be harvested at some time in the future (the spikes endangering the lives of the loggers as they cut down the tree).
Regards — Cliff
PS Here is some academic research on "militia groups." I received it from a reliable source, but have not researched it myself. It shows that yes, the militias recruit from the military, as did, the Black Panthers. On the other hand, Bill Ayers had not military experience and that didn't stop him from being a violent extremist.
Qualitative studies indicate many militia members are military (in particular Vietnam) veterans or law enforcement personnel (Akins, 1998; Gallaher, 2003; Karl, 1995; Kramer, 2002; Seul, 1997) and O'Brien and Haider-Markel (1998) found more militia groups in states with higher rates of Gulf War veterans. Ethnographic studies have found militia members to be overwhelmingly male (Chermak, 2002; Gallaher, 2003; Mitchell, 2002; Seul, 1997; Tapia, 2000) and the content analysis by Weeber and Rodeheaver (2003) of 171 militia members' internet traffic revealed that 97% were male and most were white. While prior research has not usually found a relationship between the militia movement and cultural diversity (Freilich, 2003; Van Dyke & Soule, 2002,3 but see Akins, 1998) or African American empowerment (Van Dyke and Soule, 2002), scholars have found hostility to feminism and acceptance of traditional notions of masculinity to be popular among many militia members (Kimmel & Ferber, 2000; Seul, 1997). On the state level, however, Freilich (2003) and Van Dyke and Soule (2002) found opposite associations between female empowerment and the militia movement. The latter found the percent female of the state legislature to be positively related to the number of militia/patriot groups, while Freilich found a negative association between female-to-male earning power and the number of militia groups. All three previous state-level studies found gun culture to be related to the number ofmilitia groups. O'Brien and Haider-Markel (1998) found more militias in states with more subscribers to the NRA's American Rifleman magazine. Freilich (2003) found greater numbers of militia groups in states with a stronger paramilitary culture (an index comprised of the American Rifleman subscription rates, full-time state and local police personnel, current military members and their families, and Vietnam and Gulf War veterans). Van Dyke and Soule (2002) found that states with weaker gun control laws had more militia groups (though the authors noted that this finding also supports McAdam's political opportunity model discussed below).
Finally, the fundamentalist-religious component of the paramilitary culture thesis was supported by Akins' (1998) individual-level study in Florida that found an association between religious fundamentalism and militia participation (see also Dyer, 1997; Seul, 1997; Smith, 1994).