Rightwing Extremism: A Look Back in Laughter

Rightwing Extremism: A Look Back in Laughter

Rightwing Extremism: A Look Back in Laughter

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 10 2012 9:33 AM

Rightwing Extremism: A Look Back in Laughter

Michelle Malkin spots reporters using the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings as a reason to resurrect the DHS's 2009 "rightwing extremism" report. Oh no you don't, reporters!

The politically timed documents were released just as thousands of peaceful, law-abiding tea-party members were preparing the nationwide April 15 Tax Day tea-party protests. DHS’s overbroad report didn’t target just those prone to violence with “carefully couched” language. The feds engaged in scare-mongering about unnamed groups and individuals “antagonistic toward the new presidential administration” and “those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” Code words for the stimulus-opposing, bailout-protesting tea-party movement. Duh.
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When somebody says "duh," the argument's usually over. Obviously. But how does Malkin know that the DHS report was "politically timed"? The news of the August 7 report was broken by the Washington Times on August 14, in an extremely critical story. The analyst who wrote the report, Daryl Johnson, subsequently left the FBI. The most recent specific event it refered to was not a Tea Party but "the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 4 April 2009," by a neo-Nazi.

I'm not even defending the whole report, really, with its occasional slapdash references to "prominent civil rights organizations" and its loose language. But the report was about how Obama's election could further radicalize racist organizations and how the shoddy economy could help their recruiting, as long periods of poor growth always help radical groups with their recruiting. You understand why Tea Partiers, in 2009, jumped on the theory that the government was plotting against them. But three years later?

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.