It was just a few weeks ago that the Religious Right was up-in-arms over the report released by the Department of Homeland Security called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” [PDF] because it contained this footnote:
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
Because of this passage, Religious Right leaders immediately began decrying the report as not only “offensive to millions of Americans who hold constitutionally-protected views opposing abortion” but also an outright attack on Jesus Christ:
[Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America] tells OneNewsNow the report is a direct attack on the church. “[It’s] a direct assault on the basic principles of religious beliefs that have been here since the time of Christ,” she argues. “These are the things that Christ died on the cross for.”
Within days, groups like the American Center for Law and Justice and the Family Research Council were using the report in their fund-raising efforts:
Today, federal employees whose salaries we pay are issuing reports from the Department of Homeland Security that say some conservatives are a grave threat to America. Why? Because we oppose abortion and the massive growth of the federal government. Do they no longer see Al Qaeda or the Taliban as the greatest threat to Americans’ liberty? Apparently they are now targeting us. I remind DHS and all who read this that we oppose all violence or lawbreaking. But speaking out is an American right we will not give up!
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Soon calls began to emerge for an investigation into the drafting of the report, and that was quickly followed by the launching of an ad campaign supported by various right-wing groups demanding DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation:
Among the groups sponsoring the ad were Operation Rescue, the American Family Association, Faith2Action, Vision America, Americans for Truth, Liberty Counsel, Traditional Values Coalition, and others.
All of the caterwalling eventually lead DHS to pull the report … but in light of the details emerging about Scott Roeder, the man arrested in the killing of physician George Tiller, it seems as if the report – far from being an offensive attack on Christians and anti-choice activists – was remarkably timely and accurate.
The real irony here is that the report itself focused almost entirely on violent anti-government extremists and militia groups, never mentioning anti-choice activists outside of this one isolated footnote.
But it was that footnote that the Right seized upon, repeatedly and intentionally misrepresenting what is said in order to generate controversy over the report, culminating in this sort of fear mongering from the ACLJ … which is now blowing up in their face:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has labeled you, a member of the pro-life community, THE MOST DANGEROUS DOMESTIC TERRORIST.