A threat analysis done by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the FBI has found that the combination of the election of the nation’s first black president, along with a bad economy is leading to resurgence in radicalization and recruiting for right wing groups.
The analysis concludes that right wing groups have been using the election of Barack Obama to boost recruiting, “Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.”
Thus far, extremists action have been limited to threats, “Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.”
There is also a warning that any new weapons restrictions or bans would attract new members to right wing extremist groups, “Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of right wing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government. The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by right wing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement.”
It is not a surprise that radicalization has increased after the election of the first African American president, while the country is trying to fight its way through a recession. This is the perfect climate for the seeds of radicalism to grow. The extreme right wing is always paranoid, but this paranoia seems to have grown exponentially, since Obama was elected. Partisanship isn’t as important to the anti-government groups as any movement towards federalization.
It is appropriate to consider that Republicans are planning to hold anti-government protests tomorrow in this environment. Even though the GOP is not trying to encourage violence against Obama or the government, they could contribute to the problem, and fan the flames, by moving to the far right. This is the same issue that the McCain campaign ran into when they tried to radicalize their rhetoric last fall.
Sure there is support out there for right wing radicalization, but Republicans also run the risk of creating a disaster in the attempt to earn some political support. It is important that the Obama administration not take steps that would increase the radicalization, and that law enforcement be vigilant, because words can easily turn to actions.