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Flashback: Conservatives mocked DHS report warning of ‘antigovernment’ violence

By Sahil Kapur
Saturday, January 8, 2011 23:02 EDT
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Arizona shooter left trail of anti-government screeds on Internet

Conservatives derided and dismissed an April 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security warning law enforcement officials of a spike in violence fueled in part by “antigovernment” sentiments, which in retrospect appears to have been a chilling omen for the tragic Arizona shooting Saturday.

The report (PDF), which was coordinated with the FBI and titled, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” warned of a rise in violence spurred by the economic downturn and the election of the nation’s first African-American president.

Eighteen were shot, some fatally, in the attacks Saturday at a Tucson grocery store, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ), who was critically wounded, as well as members of her staff and a federal judge.

The suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, has apparently posted anti-government screeds in videos on YouTube — first uncovered by Talking Points Memo‘s Evan McMorris-Santoro — which include paranoid rantings about the government, mind control and grammar.

“In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications,” Loughner wrote in one video. “The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”

“You’re a treasurer for a new currency, listener? You create and distribute your new currency, listener?” he continued. “You don’t allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?”

“No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!”

In the report, the DHS defined “rightwing” in part as groups and individuals “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” (Emphasis ours.)

At the time, conservatives slammed the report as a political attack.

“The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) remarked.

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin called the report a “hit job on conservatives,” decrying it as “one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.”

Various other conservatives joined them in denouncing it as an attack on political opponents, and one right-wing group even filed a lawsuit against DHS.

In the last year and a half, there have been several acts of violence based on hate and anti-government sentiment, including an Austin pilot crashing a plane into an IRS building and a gunman shooting a guard at a Holocaust museum.

 
 
 
 
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