Remember when then newly appointed Homeland Security director, Janet Napolitano, was lambasted for the April 7, 2009 report titled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” that warned against the possibility of violence by unnamed “right-wing extremists” concerned about increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, illegal immigration, and abortion?
“No!” cried the right-wing extremists/Christian fundamentalists, “this is a lie, it is Islamic extremists we must fear. They are everywhere, and there are gunning for us. They want to destroy the US.”
This became the constant refrain of right-wing fear mongers, and as America’s Islamophobia grew, the right-wing sought to ratchet up the fear of Muslims, Islam, outsiders, anyone who looked like they might be from the middle east.
That fear has blinded many Americans to the threats from within our own borders.
But many of us recognized the truth of the report, and have noted the increasing level of hate and extreme beliefs that mark the right-wing zealots– right-wing extremists, Christian fundamentalists, teabaggers, white supremacists and the like. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to argue that the TeaParty and the far right’s refusal to agree to anything that doesn’t fit their extremist ideology is a threat to this country. As are those who insist our President isn’t an American, those who are willing to kill women seeking an abortion and the doctors who perform them, and that see undocumented workers as a destructive force. These folks are dangerous, and they are armed. They want to turn back the clock to a time when white men ruled, women didn’t have rights, and anyone who wasn’t white could be shot, hanged, beaten, and murdered without any repercussions whatsoever.
How many innocents have to die at the hands of American terrorists before people wake up and acknowledge we have more to fear from within than we do from without. This isn’t to say that aren’t threats to our safety from the outside; rather, I am arguing that we need to acknowledge the terrorists among us.
Case in point, the murderer of six people at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. The terrorist was a well-known white supremacist. Also I am sure conservatives are denying that someone other than a Muslim can commit an act of terrorism but as Salon’s Jordan Michael Smith notes, “white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been recognized as genuine threats for years.” He writes
FBI documents declassified in July reveal that the bureau has been worried about right-wing extremists for a long time — so many years, in fact, that many seem to have forgotten that white supremacists, who pioneered homegrown terrorism with the Ku Klux Klan, have not gone away. conservatives might want to consider reexamining their claims that terrorists don’t exist on the right side of the political spectrum.
Smith goes on to document the extent to which white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups are recruiting new members, engaging in violent actions and seeking to infiltrate law enforcement and other parts of our larger society, in effect creating white supremacist, neo-Nazi sleeper cells who will strike when the opportunity presents itself.
Wade M. Page, the man who the police say shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this week, had documented ties to right-wing white supremacist groups, and the Southern Poverty Law Center had been tracking him for years. While what motivated him to murder innocent worshippers isn’t clear, it is not a leap to suggest he was attacking those whom he deemed “other,” that is, not white and so not American.
We cannot ignore the treats from within. As right-wing zealots, extremists, Christian fundamentalists, teabaggers, white supremacist, birthers, Obama haters, and the like. We must speak against such hate, stop people from othering their fellow Americans, and fight to ensure others do the same.