Friday, 17 April 2009

Re-Defining "Extremism"

Don't mind this fellow

But watch out for this fellow

You may have read recently about the US Department of Homeland Security report warning of the threat of "right-wing extremism" in America. The first thing that struck me was the utter lack of any comparable concern for the threat of Islamic jihad violence and supremacism in America and around the world. Diana West has a great piece on this today, making the same point, as well as the following important observations:

But while the DHS report is thin on specifics and devoid of sources, it nonetheless quite helpfully exposes the federal government's outrageous strategy to portray conservatism as "right-wing extremism."

The report defines the term this way: "Right-wing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Presto -- the federal government has just taken key conservative positions, from opposition to Islamic law to support for security along our Mexican border, and cast them as primitive, "primarily hate-oriented" pathologies that are therefore beyond civilized political discourse. So, too, is opposition to overweening federal powers and "single-issue" opposition to abortion. What we are seeing, in other words, is the most extraordinary governmental attempt in history to limit the spectrum of debate by demonizing a range of positions as "right-wing extremism." This attempt is surely not only unconstitutional but also un-American.

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