Remember that report by the Department of Homeland Security about the potential for a rise in right-wing extremism thanks to the election of President Obama and the economic crisis?
It triggered so much outrage on the right that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to apologize. RNC chair Michael Steele said it accused peaceful conservative activists of being “terorrists.” Michelle Malkin called it a “hit job” and a “piece of crap” that offered a “sweeping indictment of conservatives.” And Andrew McCarthy of National Review called it “appalling” and “nakedly political.”But in the wake of the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion extremist — who had also been said by the FBI during the 1990s to have been a member of the radical Freemen group — the report is looking a little more reasonable.
It’s true that the section of the report that provoked the most anger was the suggestion that veterans returning form Iraq and Afghanistan could offer a soft target for radical recruiters. But a different part of the report that also generated conservative ire said that right-wing extremists “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
It’s not yet clear that Tiller’s murder represents a broader trend toward radical right-wing violence. But given that cases of abortion providers being murdered spiked in the 90s, before dropping under George W. Bush, it’s certainly not crazy to worry that it could.
Perhaps that report is due for a reassessment.