The West Point think tank known as the Combating Terrorism Center has issued a paper on the dangers posed by the far right in this country, specifically people who espouse “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government,” and says that these people tend to be anti-federalist, white supremacist, and fundamentalist in their views.
According to the paper, liberalism, including that which is seen in other developed nations, looks forward to the future, while conservative movements, especially those here, look backward and cling to an idealized version of history. They also hold a belief that the government is inherently tyrannical and given to intruding on civil and constitutional rights as much as they can. According to the paper, these people initiated 350 attacks in 2011.
One of the core issues with the extreme right is that while they espouse individual freedom and like to try and spread fear regarding the government’s activities, they also seem to believe in a type of authoritarianism—one of the very things they profess to loathe in government—that includes a strong resistance to authority from what they view as “outgroups,” namely blacks and women, unions, and more.
They also seem to view the Constitution as a static document, unchanging despite the way society has changed over the last 230 years, and want laws made and judges to rule based on the original intent of the document. Here’s the issue with that: When it comes to the 2nd Amendment (for example), the original intent of the amendment was to preserve slavery. The words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” refer to the freedom of white men in the southern states to own slaves, and to police those slaves with their militias as they saw fit. The original intent was not to ensure the people’s freedom from a tyrannical government, which is what every gun-rights activist espouses today.
Given that slavery hasn’t existed here for more than 150 years, the original intent of the 2nd Amendment is not applicable to today’s society. The extreme right, however, would argue that we are becoming slaves of the government, if we aren’t already, with anecdotes and paranoia fueling their claims.
According to an article published on CNN in August 2012, eight attacks perpetrated by extreme right-wingers have been carried out in the U.S. since 9/11 (though the study by the West Point think tank does say 350 just in 2011), compared with four carried out by Islamic jihadists. It makes mention, however, of more than 50 attacks by white supremacists that resulted in 7 deaths, though it was concluded that these were racially motivated and not political acts.
A staff member for an unnamed Republican congressman discounted the Combating Terrorism Center’s paper, saying that if the government is looking to cut spending, the think tank should be among the first to go, since they’re wasting time and money with this nonsense and not working on radical Islamist threats or threats from the far left, naming the Weather Underground, the Animal Liberation Front, and the Earth Liberation Front, as left-wing terrorist groups.
The issue with that, however, is that extreme left-wing groups tend not to try and kill, and/or only target individuals and not entire groups of people, according to a CNN article from Sept. 2012. This article says that the biggest threats for large-scale attacks not only come from radical Islam groups, but also come from radical American right-wing groups. It cites a report by the director of National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) that says while homegrown terrorist groups from the left, such as the animal and environmental groups, only tend to target individuals and don’t generally intend to kill, whereas right-wing extremists do.