This AP news release reports that House Republican leader John Boehner has gotten wind of the fact that Homeland Security is monitoring the rising right-wing rebellion groups for possible recruitment of veterans for violent extremism as a risk to national security. Proving that scoundrels often hide behind the flag, Boehner said that the intelligence assessment had insulted our veterans because it had identified that returning veterans were at risk of being recruited by these groups or might commit violent acts on their own.
As harsh as it may sound, this particular war has produced an inordinately large number of returning veterans with mental disorders such as PTSD and organic disorders like Traumatic Brain Injury. Assimilation back into society can be very difficult under these circumstances.
The report also cites the downturn in the economy and the election of the first black president as possible impetus to national security threats. How long after the end of the Civil War did it take for the Ku Klux Klan to organize? I don’t want to have that again in my country.
I am wondering why the GOP House Leader didn’t raise a cry when Homeland Security targeted a couple of Oregon forest dwellers who wanted the state to stop spraying herbicides in the ditches near their woodland home and children's schools. These two and a few friends show up at parades, hold signs, and ask people to sign petitions.
Calling themselves the Pitchfork Rebellion, Van Omum and his wife caught the eye of the Bush administration’s Homeland Security which identified them as nascent domestic terrorists. HS was on the job during the Eugene Celebration, and the result is still in the courts. (In short, HS agents called Van Omum, who was walking in the parade, over to the sidewalk where they took him down and began tasering him. A young bystander, who had gotten his Eagle Scout badge just a few years before, knew a bad thing when he saw it and knocked the agent off Omum. Like I said, it’s still in the courts.)
So, it’s not just radical right wing groups that have attracted the attention of Homeland Security that has so outraged the Repubicans. Is this woodland-loving Oregonian couple dangerous? I doubt it, but then it’s not my job to decide. However, I do know that the rise in the rebellious rallies coupled with the rise in gun purchases cannot mean anything good. If these two forest folk can be monitored, so can the Tea Parties.
The GOP errs when they encourage the Tea Party groups as Michael Steele confirmed by emailing me today that I should send a virtual tea bag to Obama I suppose they see it as courting their base; however, they should look at the parallels between how their encouragement looks a lot like radicalism. They use our most cherished moments in history, like the Boston Tea Party, to fool good Americans into fighting for the right of the wealthy to pay little taxes so they can pay more. It is shameful.
I am glad that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has a clear vision of her mission which she stated unequivocally in response:
“Let me be very clear — we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States," Napolitano said in a statement. "We don't have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence."