The Combating Terror Center at the US Military Academy recently published a report titled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.”
The report is a shoddy hit piece that attempt to paint any politically conservative American as itching to start a domestic wave of terror and insurrection. Reading the report with any credulity would have you believe that cells of far-right militia and other disaffected groups are just itching to start a second civil war, or a race war or something.
A Republican congressional staffer who served in the military told The Washington Times: “If [the Defense Department] is looking for places to cut spending, this junk study is ground zero.
“Shouldn’t the Combating Terrorism Center be combating radical Islam around the globe instead of perpetuating the left’s myth that right-wingers are terrorists?” the staffer said. “The $64,000 dollar question is when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?”
The CTC is a quasi government think tank, originally funded by a private grant. But like most think tanks, it sustains itself by producing reports commissioned by the government. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with the government looking to outside sources for an independent evaluation of a topic, if this is the quality of work the CTC is producing, it surely does look like a great place to cut.
This is hardly the first time the federal government has tried to paint half the political spectrum of the US population as militant kooks. The infamous 2009 DHS report was merely the most visible.
Let’s take a look at snippet of the poor quality of thinking that author Arie Perliger, a social sciences instructor at West Point, puts into his report:
“While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive -oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo,” the report says. “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”
First, that’s an explicitly politically partisan message. Which raises the question, why is the government paying for partisan studies? Second, it’s intellectually quite feeble. The author is simply buying into his own fantasy about what political conservatives think.
I’d argue that political conservatives are far, far more future thinking than any liberal. Conservatives can see that future generations burdened with the stupendous debt run up by the government in recent years will be crippled with higher taxes, greater government intrusion into their lives, and a stagnant economy at best. In attempting to use those past paradigms that promoted economic growth and wealth creation, conservatives are agitating for a far better future than liberals that are hell bent on following a path that time and again has been shown to lead to economic ruin.
Finally, for over a century, we’ve seen examples of left wing political violence in our country, and yet think tanks like CTC never seem to notice such things. Why is that?
On a side note, virtually every “right wing extremist group” I can think of is arguing for one goal- the right to be left the hell alone. How is that bad?