In the wake of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, The Plum Line's Greg Sargent is making a lot of sense:
You may recall the enormous controversy that erupted in April over a Department of Homeland Security report that assessed the threat of "right wing extremists." The story provoked days of nonstop cable chatter, and DHS chief Janet Napolitano ultimately apologized.
Fast forward to the huge and horrible news yesterday that late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was shot dead by a man who reportedly posted on the blog of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Maybe we should take another look at all that criticism?
One passage from the DHS report that provoked nonstop outrage said that right wing extremists "may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."
I recall that at the time, I found it a bit bizarre that many conservatives seemed to want to go out of their way to identify and equate themselves with domestic neo-Nazi organizations and violent religious fundamentalists. As has been often pointed out, the word "conservative" did not appear in the report, so the race to stand up for and embrace a violent political fringe seemed unnecessary and contrary to logic.
That said, one can't ignore the recent uptick in the mainstreaming of this sort of fringe whackery. Back in April, Dave Weigel noted that Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak was likening the "tea party" movement to the "Project Mayhem" domestic terrorists depicted in the movie Fight Club. (Which I thought we agreed we weren't supposed to talk about?) And, via Matt Yglesias, here's Representative Michael McCaul urging a crowd to bloodshed for the sake of the "tree of liberty":
The Bush administration, which put in motion the research that led to the aforementioned DHS report, and Janet Napolitano, who shepherded it to its public release, seem to have been on to something. Looking back, I think it's just swell how everyone dug down really deep into the politics of it, instead of the substance.
Time To Revisit Criticism Of DHS Report On "Right Wing Extremists"? [The Plum Line]