Thanks to the federal government’s constant overreach and deference to international organizations such as the United Nations, many Americans have become increasingly distrustful of government institutions and officials. Meanwhile, government officials seem to have become increasingly distrustful of individual liberty, a distrust that manifests itself in a number of bizarre and frightening ways.
To cite a particularly absurd example of this distrust, the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) issued a report in 2009 titled “The Modern Militia Movement” warning that “militias” — very broadly defined — were on the rise, and that readers of the report should be wary of individuals displaying the Gadsden (“Don’t Tread On Me”) flag or whose vehicles displayed bumper stickers supporting two-time Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, 2008 Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin or me (I was the 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nominee).
MIAC later apologized for these idiotic statements, which it deleted from the online version of its report. The federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, has not let up in its crusade to demonize all manner of liberty-oriented groups. Around the same time that MIAC published its report on “right-wing groups,” DHS issued its own report — which happened to come out just as the tea party movement was becoming a force in national politics — lumping together tea party organizations and white-supremacist groups, and labeling them all “right-wing extremists.” DHS said that these groups are “hate-oriented” and noted that “extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.” Such concerns about our economy obviously were valid political expressions then, and remain so today. Linking such views to inappropriate if not unlawful behavior is abhorrent.
Given the outcry from conservatives over that report, one would think that DHS would be at least hesitant to smear opponents of the Obama administration again. Wrong.
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), which provides research analysis to DHS, issued a report in January offering what it presents as an historical look at terrorist “hot spots” around the country from 1970 to 2008.
The report may appear innocuous, but it is not. It offers a carefully scripted but insidious analysis of Americans who happen to hold certain philosophical or political views, many of which are common among conservatives and libertarians. For example, Americans who “believe that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack” or who are “nationalists, anti-global, [or] suspicious of centralized federal authority, [and] reverent of individual liberty” are painted in a negative light. Of course, Thomas Paine, John Adams, James Madison, Ronald Reagan and many other American icons have held such views.
As Paul Joseph Watson notes at InfoWars.com, this is all part of a “rush to denounce legitimate political beliefs as thought crimes.” And though the report is meant to document acts of terrorism inside the United States, there is only a passing mention of 9/11 and Islamic extremism.
It is deeply disturbing that the executive branch of our federal government continues to demonize and delegitimize political beliefs, particularly those challenging the “conventional wisdom” or the status quo. It is even more distressing that neither the U.S. House of Representatives nor the Senate has moved to put a stop to such efforts, which they could if their members possessed the understanding and the backbone to do so.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.