Last night, a shooter who held white supremacist and extreme anti-government, anti-feminist views “allegedly killed two people and wounded nine others who were watching the new comedy ‘Trainwreck,’ a film written by and starring the feminist comedian Amy Schumer.”
As the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out in wake of the Lafayette, Louisiana, shooting, “in the last five years, an attack from the radical right was carried out or thwarted on average every 34 days and that the overwhelming majority of those attacks, 74 percent, were carried out by a single person, or a group of no more than two people.”
However, the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to monitor anti-government fanatics, who have carried out far more lethal attacks on Americans in recent years than Islamic extremists, was severely crippled after a 2009 dispute over a Department of Homeland Security report [PDF] on domestic right-wing terrorists.
As we’ve reported, Republican politicians and conservative activists alleged that the report focused on a nonexistent threat and would be used by the government to mark all conservatives, particularly Christians, gun owners and veterans, as terrorists.
The Right saw an opportunity to stir up a fake controversy in order to raise money, reinforce the narrative of conservative activists as victims and provoke animosity toward President Obama. In the process they helped make it harder for DHS to investigate a very real threat to American security.
Under pressure, Homeland Security retracted the report and ended up “gutting” the very unit combating such threats. Ironically, the author of the report was actually a conservative Republican Mormon who saw his team “dissolved” due to the criticism.
The report [PDF] specifically assessed “lone wolves” who hold “violent rightwing extremist ideology” as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States” bent on “commit[ing] violent acts,” noting that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy.”
But apparently the disbandment of Homeland Security’s team combating such violent extremists was worth it so right-wing groups could raise money and whip up completely unfounded fears of anti-conservative persecution.