Yesterday I was listening to Democracy Now!, and their guest Mark Potok made a very important point about the difference between how the government deals with the politically right and left when it comes to terrorism. The following is a segment of the transcript of that episode:
AMY GOODMAN: Is this kind of white supremacist, far-right violence increasing, Mark?
MARK POTOK: Well, it has been—it has been increasing, or at least very much up, since Barack Obama came into office. It was in fact rather quiet during the Bush years, between 2000, 2008. But pretty—even before Obama took office, as a matter of fact, immediately after he was inaugurated [nominated] in the summer of 2008 in Denver, we began to see plots, various attempts at domestic terrorism, really proliferate. So, the Glenn Miller murders, or alleged murders, are not unique at all. There are a number of—for instance, in June of 2009, after Obama took office, I’m sure many people will remember another well-known neo-Nazi, James von Brunn, shot and killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. A couple of years after that, another neo-Nazi—again, fairly well known—tried to bomb a parade with a very powerful IED he built on Martin Luther King Day in Spokane, Washington. Yet a third neo-Nazi invaded a Sikh temple in August of 2012 and murdered six people. And these are only a few examples, but we really have seen quite a number of these. There’s no question that we’re seeing more violence from the domestic, non-Islamic radical right than we are at this point from jihadists.
AMY GOODMAN: And how does the government organize? I mean, number one on the domestic terrorism list, according to a top FBI official, is eco-terrorism, is the animal rights movement. We don’t hear very much about white supremacists except when something horrific like this happens.
MARK POTOK: Well, let me say, the idea that eco-terrorists, so-called, are the major domestic terror threat, which was in fact said to Congress a couple of times by FBI leaders during the Bush years, I think is just patently ludicrous. You know, no one has been killed by anyone in the radical animal rights movement or the radical environmentalist movement. There are certainly groups out there that are involved in things like burning down SUV dealerships and so on, but no one has been killed yet. And that is in just, you know, wild contrast to what we’re seeing from people like Glenn Miller. You know, we’ve also had a real problem with the Department of Homeland Security, in the sense that ever since a particular report on the right wing was leaked to the press in April of 2009, DHS has sort of cowered, in a sense. They essentially gutted their non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit and really have not been putting out very important reports.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that just very quickly, Mark. Explain that for people who do not remember what happened in 2009.
MARK POTOK: Sure. The report did things like say the extremists are interested in recruiting returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. There was a huge outcry on the right wing, the political right wing of this country, that DHS had characterized all military people, all veterans, as white supremacists and extremists and so on. And that’s not at all what the report said. But Janet Napolitano, then the head of DHS, withdrew the report, apologized, and ultimately the unit fell apart.
This is important. This is important, and we have to pay attention to it. What he is basically saying is that environmental/animal rights activists are seen as more of a threat to America than people who murder racial and religious minorities. The FBI thinks of vegan potlucks as terrorist cells, but when it was brought to public attention that the DHS was growing concerned about white supremacy groups recruiting military veterans, most of the country was appalled at their audacity.
It’s important to note that when the report on military veterans came out, there was also another report that had just come out about left wing environmentalist and animal rights groups which detailed their efforts to affect economic damage on businesses through cyber attacks and email campaigns, emphasizing that these groups’ first priority was to cause no physical harm to people or animals. Even though right extremist groups are far more likely to be violent (e.g. the Jewish Comminity Center shooting a earlier this week, the Sikh Temple shooting in 2012, the murder of Dr. Tiller in 2009, the Unitarian Church shooting in 2008, the Olympics bombing of 1996, various clinic bombings, and of course Oklahoma City), the FBI still considers left wing groups to be a higher terrorism threat because of the economic damage they can do (e.g. the occasional arson [though steps are always taken to insure there is no chance of human or animal casualties], freeing enslaved animals in fur farms and testing facilities, shutting down websites, spiking trees targeted by the lumber industry, etc.). That’s right; causing someone to lose money is more dangerous than shooting them in the face.
It’s not just the fact that most of our government is more than willing to fall all over themselves to protect big businesses (that has resulted in things like the passage of such vague and oppressive pieces of legislation as the AETA) that have led to this extremely slanted view on domestic terrorism not only in their eyes but in the public’s eyes as well. Let’s not forget that another major focal point of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts involves pretty much anyone they deem to be of the wrong race or religion. The reason why vegan potlucks are assumed to be overrun by eco-terrorists and the NYPD is spying on Muslim taxi drivers insstead of anti-terrorism efforts being focused on the people who have been proven time and again to be ticking timebombs of murderous nationalist, racist rage is because most of those in power have more in common with the latter than the former. They aren’t going to consider keeping tabs on violent racists because they see nothing wrong with their own racist tactics. The public and their elected officials aren’t going to put up with too much scrutiny of those who wish to oppress all who are not white Christian men because our country was founded on this kind of oppression, and it still exists today.
The FBI knew about Miller for decades. He had previously spent time in prison for murder conspiracy. He had been a vocal advocate of racially motivated serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin. If the FBI didn’t see this coming, it’s because they didn’t want to.