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.