Republicans Are Revolting | Much Ado About… | No Worries

Republicans Are Revolting—Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck et al. grabbed their pitchforks and set out after Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano in April after she released a report on the resurgence of right-wing extremism. No news there; they’re paid to incite audiences. But Rep. Peter King (NY) led the House Republican rant over the same report, with Minority Leader John Boehner (OH), Mike Pence (IN), Eric Cantor (VA), and Mike McCaul (TX) clamoring for documents that informed the report, which was almost immediately withdrawn.

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks got so caught up in the moment that he proclaimed that 80 percent of the residents of his district fit the domestic-terrorist profile described in . Franks said the report was “so staggeringly irrational and insulting that I am unable to find the words to express it.

“The outrageous, unsubstantiated, politically-loaded” report, which had Franks more unhinged than usual, was prescient on two specific issues. Radical anti-abortion activists (mentioned only twice) are a domestic terrorism threat. And “lone wolf” extremists, who are difficult to track and anticipate, are “capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

Scott Roeder’s killing in May of Dr. George Tiller in a Wichita, Kansas, church fits the classic definition of terrorism: the use of threats or violence to instill fear and change policy or behavior. Roeder was one of the general types described in the DHS report. His arrest in 1990 for possession of bomb-making materials and his associations with the anti-government “Freemen” movement were red flags. As was his identification with anti-abortion extremists.

Holocaust Museum shooter James W. von Brunn could have been cover art for the Rightwing Extremism report. His priors included an arrest and conviction for trying to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board—while carrying a pistol, a sawed-off shotgun and a knife. His racist and anti-Semitic Web site, and his self-published Kill the Best Gentiles, place him squarely in the small but dangerous population the suppressed report warned about.

Much Ado About…The domestic-terrorism report that rattled right wingers in Congress is a nine-page outline intended for law enforcement officials. It warns, among other things, that economic decline can fuel right-wing anger; that “rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms”; that the election of an African-American president is a “driver” for recruitment among white supremacist groups; and that “rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans.” The report cites Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s experience in the first Gulf War. Relatively mild content (see the report at washingtonspectator.com) to engender the response it received from House Republicans.

No Worries? Anti-abortion-rights extremist Randall Terry speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, warned: “When you make peaceful protest impossible, you make violent protest inevitable…. I can promise you this. There is a visceral contempt for this administration [in the pro-life community].” The “pro-life leadership training” seminar Terry announced at his second National Press Club news conference included a discussion on “How Mr. Tiller’s death can propel the pro-life movement forward based upon lessons from Nat Turner’s slave rebellion….” Right-wing publisher Joseph Farah claimed that Obama’s line in his Buchenwald speech—”We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished”—referred to the destruction of Israel as a continuation of the work of the Holocaust. Farah’s online WorldNetDaily is also flogging the “birther” conspiracy, which claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is not a legitimate president.WorldNetDaily is raising money for “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” billboards. Former Reagan Defense Department political appointee Frank Gaffney focused on another speech in his Washington Times column, concluding: “In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the [Cairo] speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah—notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood….”

This seems virulent, and earlier in its onset than the last big eruption of right-wing hate—during the Clinton administration. This time, with an added element of racism.