Is Right Wing Extremism the Biggest Danger Facing America?

"There's an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown. And there's a belief that the threat of right-wing, anti-government violence has been underestimated." John G. Horgan, former Director of Terrorism and Security Studies , University of Massachusetts at Lowell

A Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington state was set on fire over the weekend. Officials determined the cause of the fire was arson.

The fire follows a a series of videos released by anti-abortion activists appearing to show Planned Parenthood executives boasting of profits made from the sale of fetal tissue. The videos were later found to be "deceptively edited" by an independent investigator.

Accordingly, such extreme right groups have carried out more acts of terror in the United States than have Islamic militants. According to the New York Times:

Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.

In fact, just after President Obama took office, a Department of Homeland Security report recognized that the combination of a tanking economy together with the election of America's first African-American president might trigger right-wing violence. The report was later withdrawn, given the headwinds of conservative criticism. Again, according to the New York Times article: "Its main author, Daryl Johnson, later accused the department of "gutting" its staffing for such research."

The sovereign citizen movement, a far right group which number as many as 300,000 and claims not to recognize the authority of federal or local government, is recognized by the FBI as the "nation's top domestic terrorism threat. " The group, like many on the extreme right, shares a "fear that government will confiscate firearms" and a nihilistic "belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy."

Cliven Bundy, notorious for his armed confrontation with law enforcement officials which arose over grazing rights for his cattle on federal land after his refusal to pay grazing fees. is said to share a common ideology with this movement. As does Bundy, movement members consider "the county sheriff to be the most powerful law enforcement official in the country, with authority superior to that of any federal agent, local law-enforcement agency or any other elected official." After remarking to the effect that "the Negro" would be better off as slaves than under government subsidies, Bundy was later condemned by former allies on the right who included "conservative politicians and talk show hosts," for example, right-wing bloviator Sean Hannity.

Such statistics are alarming and perhaps gaining enough critical mass that they can no longer be suppressed by conservative politicians as evidence of some left-wing bias in the press. The documentation of the havoc raised by these groups on the extreme right raises questions about the militarization of our police forces across the country, racial profiling by law enforcement, and a media timidity that may result in the under-reporting of violence perpetrated by right-wing extremists given fears of being tagged with having a "liberal bias."

Finally, the right-wing media itself should act responsibly by refraining from promoting such anti-government zealots, as Bundy, as heroes before later abandoning them after the inevitable racial statements are voiced. After all, it is clear from the beginning where their sentiments lie.