FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:
At the request of President Bush, the Department of Homeland Security began a review of potential domestic threats. After an extended study, in April of 2009, it concluded that the biggest threat was coming from right wing organizations:
(U//FOUO) 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.
(U//FOUO) Unlike the earlier period, the advent of the Internet and other information- age technologies since the 1990s has given domestic extremists greater access to information related to bomb-making, weapons training, and tactics, as well as targeting of individuals, organizations, and facilities, potentially making extremist individuals and groups more dangerous and the consequences of their violence more severe. New technologies also permit domestic extremists to send and receive encrypted communications and to network with other extremists throughout the country and abroad, making it much more difficult for law enforcement to deter, prevent, or preempt a violent extremist attack.
There are three individuals who appear to be fomenting violence, and who happen to have superb access to the general public. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin. It is easy to ignore these buffoons, like, offering to help Rush move to Costa Rica, using a vat of Viagra and Oxycontin as lures, replaying Jon Stewart’s dead-on portrait of Beck, or laughing at the transparent greed and stupidity that covers Sarah like a perfectly tailored Needless Mark-up suit. It would also be a mistake.
It is easy (since I do it so often) to pull out their own words and use them as evidence against them. But that is not enough.
As the DHS report points out, ” the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years. In addition, the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.” This is not some dusty report that can be glanced at, then put back on the shelves. This is an accurate, even understated, warning about a clear and present danger that affects our country. Rumors that President Obama will outlaw the private ownership of guns or ammo continue to spread through the intertubes. Dipping my toe into that filthy, retch-filled stream, I can assure you that those people do believe in three things, guns, the bible, and that liberals/socialists/progressives/democrats are conspiring against them, working on destroying their freedoms.
If anything, the volume and the tone are increasing. The passage of health care reform has become their rallying cry, even though most of them would greatly benefit from it. Window breaking? Threats directed to the children and grandchildren of Democratic office holders? Believing that Obama is a foreign born Muslim, a supporter of terrorists, and the anti-christ?
When you sit down, and put all these elements together, it paints a very worrying picture, one of street battles, riots, and out of control mobs, terrorizing those who dare disagree with them. When (not if) that happens, every liberal, agnostic, democrat and anyone who favors some religious faith outside of their preferred conservative evangelical or baptist cult, better be prepared. I would even venture to suggest that lynchings might occur.
What is worse is that Rush, Glenn and Sarah are deliberately making things worse. Instead of telling their followers to behave, they spin fact with blatant lies, simply to rile and anger their base even further. If anything, these three have gotten worse over the past few days. Their followers are reacting as expected. It does not bode well for our future.
Honestly, where in any decent, civilized society is there room for Sarah’s latest tweet, “Don’t retreat, RELOAD?” While some may dismiss that as silly rhetoric, or even humor, it is anything but. One only has to recall some of the weirder moments during the last presidential campaign, especially the Sarah Palin rallies. Some of those people were not only whacked-out, conspiracy nuts, they were more than willing to take “justice” as they define it, and use whatever means necessary to achieve it, including violence. And they are armed.
Yesterday, I spent a scotch or three with one of my best sources into the minds of these right wing nuts. That’s because he proudly describes himself as one. Carries guns and a bible in his pickmeup truck, built a survivalist outpost in a Michigan forest, and is online frequently, with many like minded people. He gets all his news from Rush and Glenn, and he firmly believes that every statement they make is the gospel truth. He was as unconsolable as he was unreasonable, swearing, even screaming how Obama, “that fucking nigger African muslim” was taking away his freedoms. Like many in his group, facts are immaterial. On the issues of liberal politics, or a pragmatic, successful president, he and his fellow right wingers are as certain about their beliefs as the wildest home-schooling, bible beating, ultra-conservative evangelical is about the “theory” (insert extreme scorn here) of Evolution.
That raises the obvious question. What do we do? Do we radicalize our own followers, hoping that our far larger numbers will intimidate the nut jobs of America and force them to hide out in their survivalist caves and mobile homes? Do we arm ourselves?
Dare we silence them?
Of all the constitutional protections we have, two of them top my list: Freedom of speech, freedom of (and from) religion. As much as I disagree with Beck and Limbaugh, I would fight to protect their right to spew the garbage they air each day. As anyone who has read my sermons before, as much as I attack religion, I also fully support the right of people to choose a religion as they see fit. So, silencing them is simply out of bounds. It goes against everything that we stand for. If we head down that slippery slope, we eventually have to select our censor, the person or group empowered to determine what is permissible speech. In no time at all, we will find ourselves victims of that very same censor. No, shutting them up would be counter-productive, and would eventually bite us in the ass. It would also anger and energize their followers and could even bring the eventual violence that we will face closer, faster, and without time for us to prepare.
One solution, only a partial one, is to come to grips with the situation. we have to realize the danger that we face, and the factors that can make it even more dangerous. We have to recognize that violence, domestic, American based, societal violence is not only possible, but probable. We also have to realize the truth about Glenn, Rush, and Sarah, uncomfortable as it may be. We have to admit that in doing what they do, these three musket-ears are superb spokespersons. They can and do energize a similar minded group of people who truly believe that their way of life is under attack. They feed bad (and worse) information intended to keep the listeners angry. We also must realize that a very large, extremely well trained group can easily be convinced to join them. As the DHS report states:
— (U//FOUO) Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.
As an aside, Rush and Glenn were broadcast to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on a daily basis. Keep that in mind when you consider PTSD, mental and physical damage, the nonstop trauma, and emotional drain that living in a combat zone has caused our brave troops. Recall that they have far greater needs for social acceptance and interaction, something that has been missing, possibly for years for most troops. After receiving such one-sided news for so long, they are even more susceptible.
Once we realize and admit that we have a problem, various solutions come up. The DHS outlined its proposals in their report. It makes for good reading. But, we, the people, should also act. In fact, it would be foolish if we didn’t. Whenever the three musket-ears do or say something vile or unforgivable, we must call them on it. In public, online, to advertisers, to editors and producers. We need to protest them, in non-violent ways, and show them (and their followers that we will not be intimidated or kept quiet. A show of numbers, in public, does far more good than you might imagine. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary. A great example of how to out these creeps is in TPM today, An Open Letter to Conseratives, a great and accurate read. We need more of that kind of writing. We need to support talented writers like that who can get the message out.
We cannot stop with Glenn, Rush, or Sarah. Those three are simply the best known, and have a large impact on their followers. Our society is under attack elsewhere. At least Canadians showed how rational and committed they are to a civilized society. Their (calm, nonviolent) protest was so large that Anne Coulter cancelled her first college stop. If only she were greeted that way here. BRAVO, CANADA!
Or, take Texas. Please.
The Texas board that trashed US history, and rewrote it with a bigoted, religious, conservative theme is unforgivable. We cannot let it stand. We need to contact our own school boards and demand that they boycott those school book sources, until rational changes are made to those books. We need to gather in front of the publisher, and in front of members of the board, and express our outrage. Once those ridiculous changes make their way into our schools, the fertile minds of America’s youth risk serious, possibly permanent damage. Teach a child a fairy tale, and the science that disproves it is far harder to learn in later years.
If you wonder why Thomas Jefferson was erased from America’s history, perhaps this one quote will explain:
I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.
Yeah, that would do it.
Here are the final words in that DHS report. They are well worth considering:
(U//FOUO) A number of law enforcement actions and external factors were effective in limiting the militia movement during the 1990s and could be utilized in today’s climate.
— (U//FOUO) Following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the militia movement declined in total membership and in the number of organized groups because many members distanced themselves from the movement as a result of the intense scrutiny militias received after the bombing.
— (U//FOUO) Militia membership continued to decline after the turn of the millennium as a result of law enforcement disruptions of multiple terrorist plots linked to violent rightwing extremists, new legislation banning paramilitary training, and militia frustration that the “revolution” never materialized.
— (U//FOUO) Although the U.S. economy experienced a significant recovery and many perceived a concomitant rise in U.S. standing in the world, white supremacist groups continued to experience slight growth.
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.