Michelle Malkin, who claims to have verified the origin of the report, makes a point about the document's treatment of amorphous and unnamed “extremist groups”:
I have covered DHS for many years and am quite familiar with past assessments they and the FBI have done on animal rights terrorists and environmental terrorists. But those past reports have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes, and targets of domestic terrorism, i.e., the ALF, ELF, and Stop Huntingdon wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism, and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs, and university researchers.
By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives.
Factual questions about the report may come to the mind of the casual reader. From page five of the report:
Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors. (emphasis mine)
Same-sex “marriage” was barely on the radar in the 1990s. See the Pew Forum's time line. Same-sex “civil unions” weren't even recognized in the U.S. before the passage of a Vermont bill in the year 2000. The marriage issue proper didn't come to national attention until Massachusetts' 2003 court decision.
Without further documentation, it's unwarranted to believe that white supremacists were particularly concerned about same-sex “marriage” years before it became a clear threat to public decency, religious liberties and parental rights.
In the 1990s, it was hard to believe that same-sex “marriage” was the issue of the future. Why would extremists use the issue as a recruiting tool when they could easily gain recruits by citing the raid on Waco, the events at Ruby Ridge, Second Amendment concerns and fears about one-world government?
The DHS report's claims about antiabortion extremism is slightly more plausible, given the violent example of Eric Rudolph. But even then one has to recall the quip that more abortionists have been killed on Law & Order than in real life.
The Clinton Administration's Violence Against Abortion Providers Task Force, VAAPCON, worked so broadly as to maintain files on mainstream pro-lifers such as Archbishop of New York John Cardinal O'Connor.
This seeming overreach itself fed fears that the government would soon turn oppressive. The latest DHS report is sure to have similar effect.
“Revisiting the 1990s” is a telling subsection title in the DHS report. If we must revisit the 1990s, it is important to review Phillip Jenkins' prescient March 23 essay Terror Begins at Home. He writes:
Based on the record of past Democratic administrations, in the near future terrorism will almost certainly be coming home. This does not necessarily mean more attacks on American soil. Rather, public perceptions of terrorism will shift away from external enemies like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah and focus on domestic movements on the Right. We will hear a great deal about threats from racist groups and right-wing paramilitaries, and such a perceived wave of terrorism will have real and pernicious effects on mainstream politics. If history is any guide, the more loudly an administration denounces enemies on the far Right, the easier it is to stigmatize its respectable and nonviolent critics.
...Time and again, Democratic administrations have proved all too willing to exploit conspiracy fears and incite popular panics over terrorism and extremism. While we can mock the paranoia that drives the Left to imagine a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, such rhetoric can be devastatingly effective—as we may be about to rediscover.
Page 2 of the DHS report reads: “Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be conducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United States Government sponsorship.”
Here the bureaucratic invocation of “transparency” poorly cloaks the worrisome presupposition that the federal government should strive to influence domestic public opinion at all.
This report on “Rightwing Extremism” has certainly influenced some people's opinions.
With its publication, mostly harmless kooks now have more fodder for their newsletters. Their fevered reactions, composed in the bombastic style of the armchair revolutionary, will then feed government reports on extremism.
Budgets and paranoia will grow, wisdom will lessen, and these significant nothings will continue to clutter our public discourse.
(Report via Skojec)