Nov 30, 2015 (San Diego) Friday’s events in Colorado where two civilians, and a police officer were shot dead is yet another mass shooting. Another 9 civilians were injured. In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security released this report on Right Wing extremism.
One of the key findings of that report is this:
Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.
In 2009 this report had to be retracted by the DHS under pressure from the right wing in the United States Congress. The environment has gotten far worst, and we have seen since several attacks that seem to fit a right wing agenda.
What do all these events have in common? The people who carried them out held extreme anti government views, and held extreme right wing political views. Their intent was in two cases start a race war, and in one stop abortions. The government might not want to use the word internal terrorism to these three events. That said Roof was also charged under hate crimes laws by the Federal Government. The media though is also reluctant to call this what it is, a form of internal radicalization, extremism and terrorism.
As usual I have to be careful when using this language. But it is starting to fit (if not already there for some time) the prescient analysis of that 2009 report. This is not unlike the 1990s, when militias rose as a form of resistance to the Clinton administration. It was a fire across the plain that was set up by the tensions of a changing country and changing demographics. These tensions have gotten far worst as the people most susceptible to these many ideologies of hate age, and increasingly become a minority.
Should we call it terrorism? Well this is the definition used by the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”Sep 13, 2011
So far we have use of violence, against persons or property. What is missing is the intimidation of the government, but civilians are being intimidated, and there are political and social goals at play here.
The government is made out of people. Ergo, having the government intimidated, might be a matter of time, or degree. So should we call this terrorism? I think we should. Once we start using the language it will be much easier to fight against it. Language has power. Whether legally Robert Lewis Dear can be charged with a terrorism enhancement is a good question. What he did though had political aims. He spoke of baby parts and had intense anti government views.
Once you look at this under the definition that the FBI uses, he crosses wickets. His use of violence did terrorize people and he did this to further his views in the use of violence.
What he did was also celebrated by some in the far right. Especially those in the pro life movement. You can see this in the screen captures of Addicting Info.
Will we jump on the bandwagon and go further than the data suggests? No. The data suggests that this was a terrorist act committed in all likelihood by a member of the far right wing with both social objectives and antigovernment views. We also know that this was a loner, from again, all emerging data. He also had a few minor brushes with the law.
This also raises another question. This is the most difficult attacker to defend against. There is almost no media presence and is hiding in the woods. That does not mean that he did not have contact with an ideological bubble that influenced his thinking. Or that he self radicalized.
The process should not be that unfamiliar to anybody who has been exposed to how Jihadis do this. The right has a lot of media that purposely speak of a coming race war, or a coming right wing revolution. The most famous of them, that Timothy McVeigh was inspired by, are the Turner Diaries. The plot of the book is simple. An attack on the Federal Government, even a bomb, will unleash the coming glorious revolution, where the hero will save the country from liberals and other sundry suspect types.
There are far more of these pieces of material out there.There are also three parallel movements that anybody interested in the subject must become familiar with. Politics USA identifies them:
In a West Point study on the growing danger of violence from right-wing extremist groups, they laid out three major ideological movements; a racist white supremacy movement, an anti-government movement, and a fundamentalist Christian movement that have always existed in this country, but they became the purview of the GOP represented in the RNC’s platform for the 2012 general election. This is not to say that Republicans promote right-wing extremism with a view towards violence against the government or other Americans, but their support for policies the extremists hold near and dear to their black hearts lends legitimacy to hate movements that are becoming mainstream among conservatives and having deleterious effects on the population.
So we must go back to Planned Parenthood on Friday. Given all this information, should it be called terrorism? Yes. Can we say where it comes from? Yes. What specific area of the three main streams of far right wing? We don’t have enough information yet. Is that exercise right now academic? Yes.
It is terrorism, and we as a nation need to confront this. While there is a danger from the Islamic State, the danger from these internal terrorists is far more dangerous by orders of magnitude.