Posted by: matt25 | April 18, 2009

Freedom of speech… But for how long?

First of all I need to say right at the outset that I am not a terrorist and the chances of me becoming one are roughly equivalent to my chance of becoming an Olympic gold medalist in all around gymnastics.  But apparently the Department of Homeland Security has a different opinion.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is standing behind her Department’s “Rightwing Extremism Policy,” as reflected in the recently publicized Intelligence Assessment, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” albeit with a lukewarm apology to veterans.

One of the attributes that has been a hallmark of United States political freedoms is the ability to speak up if you have a different opinion.  Just as a reminder, freedom of speech is the 1st amendment to the Constitution.  But this report is just one more indication of the assault that has been launched against those who have a more traditional or conservative view of what is correct and should be law in our nation.  I could also talk about “The Fairness Doctrine” that some are trying to get reinstated as a way to muzzle conservative talk shows, or even the push to pass a law that could give the government the ability to shut down the free flow of information on the internet.   The bottom line here is that if the American people don’t wake up and start paying attention, including those who generally support the programs of the current administration, we may soon be living in a country that will be radically different than the one we hope for.

So what is it that homeland security is saying that is throwing up red flags for me?  Well, the list of groups mentioned in the report reads like a who’s who of groups that are not aligned with the Obama administration’s policies.  According to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which filed a federal lawsuit against her, “Janet Napolitano is lying to the American people when she says the Report is not based on ideology or political beliefs. In fact, her report would have the admiration of the Gestapo and any current or past dictator in the way it targets political opponents. This incompetently written intelligence assessment, which directs law enforcement officials across the country to target and report on American citizens who have the political beliefs mentioned in the report, will be used as a tool to stifle political opposition and opinions. It will give a pretext for opponents of those Americans to report them to police as rightwing extremists and terrorists. You can imagine what happens then.”

The Report specifically mentions the following political beliefs that law enforcement should use to determine whether someone is a “rightwing extremist”:

* Opposes restrictions on firearms
* Opposes lax immigration
* Opposes the policies of President Obama regarding immigration, citizenship, and the expansion of social programs
* Opposes continuation of free trade agreements
* Opposes same-sex marriage
* Has paranoia of foreign regimes
* Fear of Communist regimes
* Opposes one world government
* Bemoans the decline of U.S. stature in the world.
* Upset with loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and India
* . . . and the list goes on

This is not without precedent in our political history of course.  The difference in what I see as an abuse of political power lies in who happens to be in power at the time.  Could we be looking at a repeat of McCarthyism, which Wikipedia describes as “the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence”?  That really is up to the people of this nation.  That really is up to you… and you… and you… and me.  We need to stop being sound-bite zombies and think more deeply about things than what is presented on the evening network editorials and talk to each other and our elected officials.  We need to dialog about what is important to us even, no… especially, if we disagree.

God Bless America.  Please!

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Responses

  1. Respectfully, IMO of course, there is a big difference between saying that

    Right-wing extremists can often be characterized as holding these beliefs (as the report actually does say),

    and

    people characterized by these beliefs are Right-wing extremists

    which is NOT what the report says.

    So when you say “The Report specifically mentions the following political beliefs that law enforcement should use to determine whether someone is a ‘rightwing extremist'”, my opinion is that you are mis-characterizing the report.

    • That was actually part of Richard Thompson’s quote sorry if I wasn’t clear on that.
      One of the things that I have seen over the years is that what comes out of Washington, regardless of the political ideology of the parties involved, often can be characterized as having a element of plausible deniability built into it. There is always some wiggle room left in case one needs to run for political cover. While I don’t entirely disagree with what you are saying I also believe that Richard Thompson has a valid point. One of the first things Napolitano did as the new Director of Homeland Security was to send law enforcement agencies a report that focuses on groups of people who differ ideologically with the administration. I can only imagine the ruckus that would have been raised by the mainstream media if Michael Chertoff had issued a similar report listing for instance individuals who may have opposed drilling off-shore or the tightening of immigration guidelines when he was appointed under Bush. I can’t help but ask the question, where is this headed? My point was not to promote one political ideology over another but rather to say, there is a potential here for an abuse of power… Let’s not allow that to happen. Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.


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