The report below, prepared for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division, is intended to quantify the location and causation of domestic terrorism.
The methodology doesn’t pass the smell test as it claims that “More than 2,600 terroristevents occurred in the United States between 1970 and 2008.” That’s an absurd amount of “terrorism” that breaks down to no fewer than 68 terrorist incidents per year nation wide, or about one incident every five days.
Clearly, there are some serious problems with how they’re defining “terrorism” here. While I’m sure the crimes they track are quite serious, I don’t think most of us would consider incidents that common to be meeting the commonly understood definition of “terrorism.” It wouldn’t be surprising, of course, to learn that they’re setting the bar pretty low in order to inflate incidents to justify bigger security budgets.
This is the federal government we’re talking about, after all.
But more troubling than statistical gamesmanship is how some supposed strains of terrorists are being defined. According to the report, “extreme right-wing” terrorists might be “suspicious of centralized federal authority” or “reverent of individual liberty.” Meaning that none other that Thomas Jefferson, that eloquent radical, might have drawn the interest of federal authorities today.
Ironically, while the report does also describe “extreme left-wing” terrorists, it doesn’t criticize the ideology of the leftists. It doesn’t bemoan their love of authoritarian government. Rather, it simply characterizes their objectionable tactics in implementing their ideology:
Extreme Left-Wing: groups that want to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes. This category also includes secular left-wing groups that rely heavily on terrorism to overthrow the capitalist system and either establish “a dictatorship of the proletariat” (Marxist-Leninists) or, much more rarely, a decentralized, non-hierarchical political system (anarchists).
So being a lover of individual liberty, and preferring decentralized government to monolithic government, is inherent to being a right-wing terrorist, but you’re only a left-wing terrorist if you use violent tactics.
A convenient double standard.
But is anyone really surprised that our federal government would label anyone questioning its authority as a radical? After all, what bigger threat to the consolidated power of the federal government than an electorate of suspicious citizens interested in protecting their individual liberty from that power?