Sunday, January 20, 2013

Surge In Conservative Violent Attacks



Samantha Kimmy at Rawstory.com summarizes a new study from West Point (!), "West Point study on ‘violent far right’ shows ‘dramatic rise’ in attacks," that have irritated Conservatives with guilty consciences:



"A report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Military Academy on Jan. 15 discusses the potential dangers of “violent far-right” organizations, which has angered some conservatives that believe the military should focus on international threats.

"The executive summary of the paper, 'Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,' claims that 'since 2007, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self- identify with the far-right of American politics.'

"The study also found that 'presidential election years and the preceding year are characterized by an increase of far-right violence,' leading the author to conclude that 'in general, far-right groups and individuals are more inclined to engage in violence in a contentious political climate.'



"Furthermore, it found that the number of Republicans in the House was positively correlated with an increase in far-right violence, although the causes were not immediately clear. The study posits that it could mean those groups believed those legislators might be 'more tolerant of their activities' or possibly that 'the high expectations of far-right activists during a conservative legislature' were not 'fulfilled.'

“'Findings indicate that…it is not only feelings of deprivation that motivate those involved in far right violence, but also the sense of empowerment that emerges when the political system is perceived to be increasingly permissive to far right ideas,' it later reads.

"The rise in attacks in the 21st century were significant, as 'Although in the 1990s the average number of attacks per year was 70.1, the average number of attacks per year in the first 11 years of the twenty-first century was 307.5, a rise of more than 400%.'

"The Washington Times, The National Review, and World Net Daily all report on critical reactions from the right, according to the Atlantic Wire...''



While the original study should be read all the way through, we repeat some of the more salient points:

"The Landscape of the American Violent Far Right

"There are three major ideological movements within the American violent far right: a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement. The ideological characteristics of the different movements affect their operations in terms of tactics used, targets selected, and operations conducted.



"The racist movement is comprised of white supremacy groups such as the KKK, neoNazi groups such as the National Alliance and Skinheads groups such as the Hammerskin Nation. The groups comprising this movement are interested in preserving or restoring what they perceive as the appropriate and natural racial and cultural hierarchy, by enforcing social and political control over non-Aryans/nonwhites such as African Americans, Jews, and various immigrant communities. Therefore, their ideological foundations are based mainly on ideas of racism, segregation, xenophobia, and nativism (rejection of foreign norms and practices). In line with the movement’s ideology, the great majority of attacks perpetrated by the racist groups are aimed against individuals or groups affiliated with a specific minority ethnic group, or identifiable facilities (mosques, synagogues, or schools affiliated with minority communities). However, while the KKK extremists are heavily involved in acts of vandalism, extremists from Skinheads and Neo-Nazi groups are more likely to engage in attacks against people, including mass casualty attacks.



"Violence derived from the modern anti-federalist movement appeared in full force only in the early to mid-1990s and is interested in undermining the influence, legitimacy and effective sovereignty of the federal government and its proxy organizations. The antifederalist rationale is multifaceted, and includes the beliefs that the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a 'New World Order' (NWO) in which the United States will be absorbed into the United Nations or another version of global government. They also espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the antifederalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.

"Lastly, the fundamentalist stream, which includes mainly Christian Identity groups such as the Aryan Nations, fuse religious fundamentalism with traditional white supremacy and racial tendencies, thus promoting ideas of nativism, exclusionism, and racial superiority through a unique interpretation of religious texts that focuses on division of humanity according to primordial attributes. More specifically, these groups maintain that a correct interpretation of the holy texts reveals that it is not the people of Israel but the Anglo-Saxons who are the chosen people and therefore assert their natural superior status. Moreover, the war between the forces of light and darkness, as portrayed in the Bible, will be (or has already been) manifested through a racial war between the white Anglo-Saxon nation and various non-Anglo-Saxon ethnic groups.  Operationally, violence carried out by extremists associated with Identity groups focuses on minorities and Identity members have a higher tendency to engage in mass casualty attacks in comparison to other movements."

Violence is violence is violence, and violence cannot be condoned in a free society, although Conservatives seem to think otherwise.  The study goes on:



"The typology illustrates that extremists link their behavior with their underlying ideology and reinforce each other in the organizational frameworks of the American violent far right. From a theoretical perspective, this constitutes a further indication of the perception among some parts of the academic community that terrorism is an instrument of symbolic discourse which is shared by violent groups and their adversaries. Target selection is thus not based just on operational considerations, but is one component, among others, that allows extremist groups to shape their message using violent practices. Timing, weapons used, and target locations are only part of all possible components that shape the symbolic message conveyed by any specific attack. In this context, the policy implications are clear. If the different far right extremist groups are driven by different ideological sentiments, and are thus also engaged in distinguishable tactics, then the counterterrorism response must be tailored appropriately for the movement involved."

The introduction to the study concludes:



"Trends of Violence

"This study also seeks to explain how both exogenous and endogenous factors may shape the characteristics of American far right violence, including political, demographic, and economic factors. Findings indicate that contentious and conservative political environments as well as the political empowerment are positively associated with the volume of violence; thus, it is not only feelings of deprivation that motivate those involved in far right violence, but also the sense of empowerment that emerges when the political system is perceived to be increasingly permissive to far right ideas. These trends contradict predominant perceptions which associate motivational forces that facilitate political violence with the unbalanced allocation of goods, and provide support for explanations which focus on correlations between violence and perceived changes in the sociopolitical structure.

"While the findings are not particularly strong with regard to the relationship between the level of violence and economic factors, when looking at the trends in violence not only in relation to time, but also across space, and considering demographic indicators, it is clear that the violence is concentrated in heterogeneous areas, thus supporting theoretical assumptions associating intra-community violence with community cohesiveness and its members’ perceptions regarding community boundaries. It is therefore clear from a policy perspective that more effort is needed to create effective integration mechanisms in areas in which we see growing ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.



"Finally, the study provides additional insights that raise new questions for further research, such as the perceived limited correlation between the level of violence and the proportion and size of certain minority groups; changing trends in cooperation between various ideological streams; the shift of the violence from the South to other parts of the country; changes in the balance of power within the movements; and the clear decline of some of the groups, such as anti-abortionist extremists. This study is intended to represent a point of departure for further exploration of the American far right in addition to informing current research and policy discussions."

"Further research," indeed.  The underlying point of the study is obvious:  Conservatives condone and use violence to further their agenda, a criminal strategy that has been condoned throughout our history without the right-wing paying the penalties for their criminal conspiracies...note again:

"the number of Republicans in the House was positively correlated with an increase in far-right violence, although the causes were not immediately clear. The study posits that it could mean those groups believed those legislators might be 'more tolerant of their activities' or possibly that 'the high expectations of far-right activists during a conservative legislature' were not 'fulfilled.'"



The "three major ideological movements within the American violent far right: a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement," as described by the West Point study offer a point of attack in criminalizing Conservatism, but there are really other movements - and they all stick together for the most part in their underlying belief: that the country is best ruled by elites, not the People.

"If the different far right extremist groups are driven by different ideological sentiments, and are thus also engaged in distinguishable tactics, then the counterterrorism response must be tailored appropriately for the movement involved, the study concludes.  And we concur...and call for those counterterrorist responses as soon as possible!


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A pessimist is a person who has had to listen to too many optimists."

Don Marquis


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