Demonizing America’s Mainstream Right

A West Point think tank targets "violent" anti-government sentiment.

Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.” Perhaps it should have been titled “Demonizing America’s Mainstream Right,” because the paper, while focusing on domestic terrorists, links them ideologically to law-abiding, Constitution-revering, mainstream conservative American citizens, making it easy for left-wing media to demonize the latter and for the government to target them.

The report, which warns America about “violent far right” groups such as the “anti-federalist” movement, was issued last week by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It was written by Arie Perliger, who directs the Center’s terrorism studies and teaches social sciences at West Point. The CTC normally produces reports on al Qaeda and other violent Islamic groups throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Previous reports similar to this latest one, for example, featured such topics as “Crime and Insurgency in the Tribal Areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” “Radical Islamic Ideology in Southeast Asia,” and “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq.”

But this latest study looks within our own borders and connects limited government activists to three movements it identifies as a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement, and a fundamentalist movement.

The first group is fairly self-explanatory: violent racists like the KKK (no mention in the report of their origins in the Democratic party) and skinheads. The third group, the fundamentalists, is identified by the report as including mainly Christian Identity groups such as the Aryan Nations. They “fuse religious fundamentalism with traditional white supremacy and racial tendencies,” “promoting ideas of nativism, exclusionism, and racial superiority through a unique interpretation of religious texts.” The report goes on to discuss the various facets of the movements and their motivations. Certainly when such groups perpetrate violence it is legitimate to identify them as domestic terrorists.

But the characterization of the middle group is where the report gets interesting and more problematic. After describing liberals rosily as “future- or progressive-oriented” and conservatives as paranoid about a New World Order and clinging to an idealized past, the report asserts that the “anti-federalists” want to undermine “the influence, legitimacy and effective sovereignty of the federal government and its proxy organizations.” The members of this movement

espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self-government.

This pretty much describes every conservative I know, especially in the face of the accelerating big-government bloat and Constitutional revisionism of collectivist Barack Obama, The Man Who Would Be King. The report’s suggestion then, whether intentional or not, is that mainstream conservatives are ideologically sympathetic to racist terror groups.

“The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism,” the report continues, “as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.” Remove the bit about “ethnic community,” which is a consideration that is far more important to the race-obsessed left than to the right, and conservatives would proudly stand by that vision.

Extremists in the anti-federalist movement, the report notes, direct most their violence at the government and their law enforcement proxies – something mainstream conservatives, who are fiercely supportive of law enforcement (while the left high-fives each other for defecating on cop cars) would certainly not endorse.

It adds: “While far-right groups’ ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners, the liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power.” Translation: conservatives have a racist, xenophobic streak, but the left is inclusive, tolerant, democratic, and non-totalitarian. Um, no.

This is not some obscure academic paper – the CTC describes itself as “the largest provider of counterterrorism education to federal, state, and local government in the United States.” This paper will have an impact on how our own future military leaders view not just the violent terrorists the report addresses, but also, potentially, the mainstream conservatism to which it links them.

Progressive websites like the Daily Kos and Think Progress are predictably crowing about the report and attacking conservative umbrage about it. “Aren’t conservatives supposed to be hawkish on terror?” taunts The Atlantic Wire. “Conservatives love appealing to these kinds of studies when arguing that we need to get tough on terror, right?” Right. We are – and should be – hawkish on terror, and domestic terror is no exception. The issue is not that conservatives want to whitewash far-right terror groups, but that this report opens the door to viewing principled conservatives as suspicious and threatening.

Want to talk whitewashing? It is the radical left (including the Obama administration) and their media accomplices who sweep Occupy Wall Street violence under the rug, embrace domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers as esteemed academics, ignore New Black Panther threats of a race war, and dismiss Islamic terror on our own soil as “workplace violence” – all the while demonizing Tea Partiers as violent and racist, without a shred of evidence of either.

I look forward to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point issuing a counterbalancing report warning Americans about the danger from violent far left movements and linking them to progressive philosophy. The report could identify groups that our media and government either turn a blind eye to, such as the militantly racist New Black Panthers, or that they view approvingly and whose innumerable violent crimes they ignore, such as the simultaneously anarchic and big-government anti-capitalists of Occupy. It could characterize such threatening movements as not only stemming from socialism and leftist identity politics, but also being empowered by having their representative occupying the White House.

I look forward to that report – but I’m not holding my breath.

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