In April of Barack Obama’s first year in office, right wing America had a collective meltdown when the Department of Homeland Security dared to write a report (pdf) on right wing extremism and the domestic terrorists that could be tied to the movement. Michelle Malkin went into a full mouth froth, declaring that the report was an Obama DHS hit job on conservatives. ABC was quick to join in, documenting more of the responses of “conservatives”. Sadly, Obama and the DHS backed down meekly and the concept was quickly scrubbed from public debate.
But attacks carried out by the very types of right wing radicals described in the report have continued. The toll from these attacks appears to have gotten high enough that the media finally has found its voice again and is willing to document the carnage while connecting the dots. After the deadly shootings at a Jewish center in the Kansas City area in April of this year, Peter Bergen and David Sterman penned an op-ed piece carried by CNN. They dared title the piece “U.S. right wing extremists more deadly than jihadists” and produced documentation to back up their damning headline:
In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).
By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11.
With Sunday’s killing of two policemen and a “good guy with a gun” in Las Vegas by another pair of right wing extremists, Paul Waldman was able to take to the blog pages of the Washington Post to tie these violent attacks to the venom-filled rhetoric of the right:
But what I am saying is this: there are some particular features of conservative political rhetoric today that help create an atmosphere in which violence and terrorism can germinate.
The most obvious component is the fetishization of firearms and the constant warnings that government will soon be coming to take your guns. But that’s only part of it. Just as meaningful is the conspiracy theorizing that became utterly mainstream once Barack Obama took office. If you tuned into one of many national television and radio programs on the right, you heard over and over that Obama was imposing a totalitarian state upon us. You might hear that FEMA was building secret concentration camps (Glenn Beck, the propagator of that theory, later recanted it, though he has a long history of violent rhetoric), or that Obama is seeding the government with agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. You grandfather probably got an email offering proof that Obama is literally the antichrist.