When are Non-Terrorists Terrorists

It has been reported that the Department of Homeland Security issued a paper urging its employees to be on the look-out for “right-wing extremists (Washington Times, February 21, 2015).  CNN, which originally mentioned the report, quoted an administration official: “’I don’t think it’s fair to say the (White House) conference didn’t address this at all,” an administration official said, adding that the president addresses the need to combat “violent ideologies” of all types,’ CNN reported.”  Apparently, the Obama administration believes domestic right-wing terrorism is quite an important threat.  In particular the report mentions what it calls “sovereign citizen extremism” as the main threat.  For the unacquainted this is a pretty loose-knit or loosely defined group of United States citizens who do not recognize federal, state or local statutes, but only some form of common law.  Others do not recognize United States currency.  Others do not acknowledge the authority of the United States to tax them.  The classification is held together by little more than a refusal to recognize responsibilities of citizenship to government.

Let me say right away that these people are rather silly and certainly naïve.  I have known a couple over the years and they have been dead serious in their questions regarding, for example, income tax liability, arguing that the supposed enabling statute for the Federal income tax was really just a private charter and had no legal authority.  My response was that even if they were right, no court anywhere would agree and they would end up in jail pretty fast.

However, I cannot see how these groups can be treated on the same level as Islamic terrorists.  They almost never commit violent crimes, though there are examples of it.  And their crimes are not terrorism, but simple (legally that is) violations of law, such as tax evasion, ignoring traffic laws, shooting at police or even killing police officers during stops or warrant deliveries.  That is bad, sometimes very evil, of course, but not terrorism.  So to me it appears that once again, an attempt is being made artificially to bend over backward to eliminate even the appearance that the administration might be targeting a particular kind of terrorism.  As an ordinary citizen I certainly don’t feel threatened.  Perhaps more resources and energy could be devoted to real terrorist threats.  It doesn’t help that the Southern Poverty Law Center, a notoriously biased organization, estimates as many as 200,000 extremists” of this kind.  Where they get their figures, no one knows.  And where DHS got the idea to make them a top terrorist group as of 2010, is beyond understanding at all.  We would do well to keep our eyes on the real terrorists.

Update: I just read an article from National Review Online by a journalist who discovered that the report was itself “discovered” by a CNN reporter who would not share it.  When the NRO person asked the DHS for a copy of the report, they refused to release it.  When she delved into some earlier reports of “Right Wing Terrorism” acts, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, she found many of them completely mischaracterized, it appears deliberately.  See the article at NRO, com (February 25, 2012).

After all this, I am very skeptical of the DHS report.  But I am also concerned for Christians who might be lumped into such studies as threats when they are simply strongly disagreeing with administration ideas and policies.  In addition, I repeat a mantra I have been chanting for some time:  “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  Let’s be transparent.



11 thoughts on “When are Non-Terrorists Terrorists”

  1. The ongoing thing that disappoints me about our current president is he wont use the word “terrorist” to describe the people who are attacking our country. That is exactly what they are yet the White House does not want to address this fact. We have not done anything to really retaliate for ISIS killing innocent Americans. Other countries like Jordan, Egypt and Israel are fighting back yet we are not. We as Americans really need to wake up and understand the gravity of this ISIS situation. Mr. Obama needs to do something for the safety of our country by fighting back against these terrorists!

    1. Actually, the United States has launched more air strikes against ISIS/IS than every other nation in the world combined. And the notion that Obama has refused to call IS members terrorists is similarly untrue.

      1. Well, I think you are a bit behind. Obama did admit the word terrorism AFTER this blog was posted. So we now have an admission, that is true. I am not sure that absolves all the foot-dragging. In any event, the actual foreign policy in dealing with ISIS is worse.

  2. “It doesn’t help that the Southern Poverty Law Center, a notoriously biased organization, estimates as many as 200,000 extremists” of this kind.”

    The SPLC isolates both right-wing and left-wing extremist organizations. Look at the map.

    If you have questions about their methodology, why not ask them? And then share with us. :-)

    If you want the SPLC to go away, perhaps American conservatism can start by cleaning up the unsavory elements–white nationalism, nativism, for example–in the midst. Why not start with the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC?). As you said, sunlight is the best disinfectant!

    1. This is an actual quote from a SPLC rep. “We’re not really set up to cover the extreme Left.”
      This article also goes into the methodology and shows how, and I myself confirmed it when looking at the hate map, that SPLC magnifies the existence of radical right-wingers by separately listing each chapter of the same organization, or each individual location of a certain cell of the same group as well as listing the organization as a whole, therefore inflating the numbers. Of the “1,007” hate groups SPLC had listed as of the writing of above article, when you combined into the same hate group all the chapters and different locations that 1,007 group long list drastically shortens to 358.

      The same rep also said “We only ever cover left-wing groups when they have a right-wing component,”

      And recently (2014), after receiving concerned letters from Christian groups who were placed on the hate list for opposition to gay marriage, the FBI decided to drop the SPLC as a hate crimes resource because of bias…

      I think the best evidence comes from the words of their own rep and the fact that the FBI decided that the SPLC, which once is the past was a useful tool, was no longer useful for them because of discovered bias.

      Have a nice day.

      1. I do not consider editorials from the NRO Online as reliable, ESPECIALLY when contain inaccuracies such as the claim that SPLC does not isolate “black nationalism.” They clearly do; indeed I provided the link.

        A few cherry-picked quotations are not sufficient. Wouldn’t it better to read the WHOLE TRANSCRIPT?

        Have you considered a possible reason why they are “not set up to cover the extreme Left”: the lack of extremist organizations–that is the key work ORGANIZATIONS–on the extreme left in the first place?

        Notice that the map I attached is on ORGANIZATIONS, not individuals doing acts of violence.

        Back in the 1920’s and 1930’s, during the days of Emma Goldman and other left-wing anarchists, left-wing extremism was rampant. Today it is not.

        Can you name me some left-wing organizations that as per the SPLC criteria are active organizations (and their chapters) that hold beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics, based on evidence from hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports?
        The SPLC by ITS OWN ADMISSION does not track individual acts but only the actions of self-defined groups.

        I would appreciate a polite and respectful reply.

      2. No site that contains editorials will be 100% accurate, but I think that illustrates the main problem here. That being that you consider my sources unreliable, and I consider yours unreliable.

        As for left wings groups not mentioned by SPLC, or the distinctions between individuals or groups, I am not going to get into that. I have no problem with the possibility that there are more right-wing than left-wing groups. But that is not the issue.

        The biggest problem I have with SPLC is their recent penchant for classifying as hate groups organizations that advocate for certain political positions (mostly relating to opposition to gay marriage) that are in disagreement with the SPLC’s own views. Examples: FRC, AFA, AFT, etc. I am not saying that 100% that these groups say is right, but they do not advocate violence or extremism.

        “A few cherry-picked quotations are not sufficient. Wouldn’t it better to read the WHOLE TRANSCRIPT?”
        … in my opinion, several of your comments to posts have done the same, cherry-picking out a phrase or quote to attack the argument being made.

        And my apologies if you took offense at some of my responses. A couple of them were probably too strongly worded. But again I have to be perfectly honest, some of your comments made to some of the authors on this site have been less than respectful themselves.

        None of the comments above are meant to convey disrespect and nothing personal is intended by them.

        Have a nice day :)

  3. “A few cherry-picked quotations are not sufficient. Wouldn’t it better to read the WHOLE TRANSCRIPT?”

    With all due respect, I would point out that numerous times in your own responses to posts on this blog you have cherry-picked one or two quotations out of a much larger post to attempt to discredit the arguments made in that post. I would ask, politely, why you can do this, but the usage of a few select quotes used as evidence against your arguments is off-limits to others? While you might disagree with the way I see it, and that is certainly your right to do so, it certainly seems to me that your own argument equally applies to you.

    As for reliable sources, we probably will be forced to agree to disagree on that. I am sure most, if not all sources I might use, you will find fault with, and visa-versa. That is simply the state of affairs often reached when two people with opposing views source their arguments. Each will view the other’s source as biased and also view as biased the sources the other uses as evidence the sources are biased. When dealing with editorials, from any source, you will always find some inaccuracies. That does not mean that one should automatically disqualify ALL material from that site or even the same article as equal with the mistake.

    So, notwithstanding the high probability that you will reject the following sources as biased, here are a couple more on the SPLC.



    In addition, there is the embarrassing example of the shooting at the FRC.
    “Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday,” said council president Tony Perkins. “But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”

    I am not going to dispute that there are likely more “right-wing” extremist groups than left wing. What I believe myself and others are actually more concerned with is not the lack of “left-wing” groups being listed, but the recent penchant for throwing a very broad net out when classifying groups as “hate groups”, and this is where the real bias comes in. There is nothing inherently wrong simply because more right-wing groups are listed than left-wing. It becomes wrong and dangerous when groups that are guilty of nothing more than a difference of opinion (AFA, FRC, AFT, etc.) and in no way advocate violence and extremist action are also included on such lists.

    All this to say… I consider the SPLC as biased. You, apparently, do not. The sources I use you will likely judge to be biased or unreliable and visa-versa.

    Have a good day :)

    P.S. In none of my posts, though a couple of them have had an admittedly strong tone to them, was my intent to convey purposeful impoliteness or disrespect. That said, and please take no offense, but to be perfectly honest, some of your comments to the authors of the posts on this site have, in my personal opinion, been less than respectful themselves.

  4. While I agree that these “right-wing extremists” have not been obeying the laws of our country, I also think that they should not be placed on the same level as terrorists. Our president seems pretty quick to label these individuals as being awful; and not so quick to do something about the actual terrorists that we have in our midst.

  5. I do not believe that right-wing extremists should be called terrorists. The idea that comes to mind when the word terrorists is used is much more extreme than what these extremists are doing.

  6. Today’s society appears to call anyone “terrorists” if they are dramatically different than a social norm. We have resorted to base stereotyping and hatred about things we do not even have a full comprehension of. Isn’t this what the Civil Rights Movement was all about addressing?

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