We need to get specific on "violent extremism".

We need to get specific on “violent extremism”.

The Right got upset when the summit was called “Countering Violent Extremism”, not mentioning the very real, global threat we face today; Islamic extremism. What’s in a name? Well, if you won’t call it by name, you run the risk of ignoring the main threat and inflating other, smaller ones. The Administration has done just that.

Do you want a President who didn’t finish his last semester of college, or one that turned a state’s economy around? You can have both, actually.

Mentioned links:

DHS Reports: Greatest Threat Is Domestic Right-Wing Extremism, Not ISIS

DHS intelligence report warns of domestic right-wing terror threat

Scott Walker, college drop-out or kicked-out?

Howard Dean calls Scott Walker “unknowledgeable” over college degree question

Gov. Scott Walker reveals the secrets to Wisconsin’s $1 billion surplus

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Show transcript

On the Right side of the political spectrum, a lot was made about what the President named a three day summit recently. He called it, “Countering Violent Extremism”. Those on the Right thought that the title should have specified Islamic extremism, since that is the major source of terrorism in this day and age. Some have referred to it as the “Don’t Say ‘Jihad’” summit. While what the President said was true – that we are not at war with Islam itself – it can hardly be argued that violent Islamic extremism is indeed a force to be reckoned with today.

Well, except that the President has tried to argue that point. At a recent Prayer Breakfast, he warned Christians that atrocities were carried out in the name of our religion, too. He mentioned the Crusades, slavery, and Jim Crow laws as examples. First, let’s understand that, however you want to portray the Crusades – as either a retaking of Jewish land overrun by violent Islamic extremists, or as Christians trying to convert by the sword – they happened about 800 or 900 years ago. I think we have medieval Christian aggression under control at this point.

Second, the mistreatment of African Americans in this country was sometimes, though most certainly not exclusively, justified with religious arguments. It was not as associated with any specific religion as much as, say, a group that calls itself the “Islamic State”. I could easily argue that, if you consider slavery an example of  “Christian extremism”, you should also consider it “scientific extremism”, since arguments for the idea that Africans were inferior to Europeans (and thus OK to be made slaves) were justified by quote-unquote “science”, with cranial measurements and other crackpot theories backing up the claim.

So trying to compare current, brutal Islamic extremism with events either 9 centuries old, or that were not as closely tied to religion, makes it appear you’re grasping at straws, and constructing a straw man out of them. When the Irish Republican Army was terrorizing the UK in the late 20th century, they were labeled Catholic, even though many bishops would renounce the violence they perpetrated. The very real threat we face today is against violent Islamic extremism, and it’s important to name it. Otherwise…

Well, otherwise you get these kinds of reports out of the Department of Homeland Security. You know, DHS; the government agency created after 19 violent Islamic extremists flew planes into buildings, killing 3,000 people? Yeah, those guys. They’ve come out with a report focusing on the domestic terror threat from right-wing “sovereign citizen” extremists.

Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to — and in some cases greater than — the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.?

The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010.

For an anti-government group, they sure don’t take on the government much. Now, I don’t want to minimize the violence that these groups perpetrate, but comparing them to ISIS? Really? 24 incidents in over 5 years? ISIS does that before breakfast. And Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that by some estimates, there are as many as 300,000 people involved in some way with sovereign citizen extremism. If that’s so, they’ve definitely got an efficiency problem.

Yes, I know, the report focused on domestic terrorism, not international terrorism. But the 9/11 terrorists were, in fact, domestic. And ISIS is actively trying to recruit inside our borders. Yes, sovereign citizen group are a danger, especially to law enforcement. But saying their threat could be equal to or greater than ISIS is fear mongering, and an attempt at misdirection, because we won’t say what the real threat is. Why we won’t is a topic for another time, but this is definitely a symptom of not doing it.

As the 2016 campaign for President is cranking along, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is one choice for the Republicans that is getting some attention. The issue that has most recently come up for him in the media has been the fact that he left college after the first semester of his senior year. He’s explained it already – he was offered a job at the Red Cross, and while intending to finish school in bits later on, he got married, had kids, and never got back to it – but left-wing sites like the Daily Kos are wondering if he was really kicked out, and Howard Dean is concerned that, without that one missing semester, Walker is too “unknowledgeable” – Dean’s euphemism for “evolution denier” – to be President. On Daily Kos they are even asking for college transcripts, something they weren’t quite as curious about during the current President’s initial campaign.

Democrats, especially social justice ones, emphasized Obama’s time as a community organizer. But for the leader of the free world, I’d rather have a governor who was elected 3 times; one of those being a rare win in a recall. Someone who took a state with a huge deficit and, with spending and tax cuts, grew the economy and created a $1 billion surplus. That, I think, is what is giving the Left a case of the willies.

Filed under: ElectionsForeign PolicyPartisanshipReligionWar