Coming on the heels of last weekend's arrests of a group of a militiamen in the Midwest for plotting to kill law-enforcement officers, you'd think people in positions of responsibility would take seriously some of the rising threats from right-wing extremists. And, judging from the story in the Washington Post, it would seem at least the FBI is:
The FBI is warning police across the country that an anti-government group's call to remove governors from office could provoke violence.
The group called the Guardians of the free Republics wants to "restore America" by peacefully dismantling parts of the government, according to its Web site. It sent letters to governors demanding they leave office or be removed.
Investigators do not see threats of violence in the group's message, but fear the broad call for removal of top state officials could lead others to act out violently. At least two states beefed up security in response.
But over in the FoxNewsiverse -- which operates on separate plane in which everything up is down -- it's not really a big deal. Just about the only discussion of the story on Fox yesterday came in the "All Star Panel" section of Special Report with Bret Baier, and it mostly elicited a big yawn.
Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard didn't really know what to make of it, but at least there seemed to be some agreement that even if these were just "kooky people," sometimes "kooky people" can inflict serious harm. Except for Charles Krauthammer, who thought it was all a non-story -- because, of course, activity by right-wing extremists is always a non-story to conservatives:
Krauthammer: Oh, come on. I get e-mails like that every week, and I don't even hold any office. And they don't always include the legally remove you, either.
... And lastly, loony anarchists aren't new in America. We've had 'em since Sacco and Vanzetti. It didn't start with health care reform.
Except, Charles, that these aren't anarchists. These people call themselves "constitutionalists". Just like your Fox colleague, Glenn Beck.
And yes, they've been known to blow stuff up, too.
As Lee Fang at Think Progress explains, the group making the threats is in fact a classic right-wing extremist organization:
While much of the rhetoric from the group resembles the style of patriot extremist organizations, their concerns seem to stem directly from economic anxiety. The group’s broadcasting affiliate, Republic Broadcasting Network, advertises survival kits, gold buying guides, and other hallmarks of a movement in America which believes that the country is heading towards economic collapse. The website also promotes tea party protests, calls for revolution, videos from Glenn Beck, and sympathetic articles about recent right-wing domestic terrorist activities, like the suicide attack on an IRS building in Austin earlier this year.
Guardians of the Free Republics’ call to dismantle the government has gained traction on right-wing tea party websites. The groups’ proclamation is posted on ResistNet, the popular tea party forum, as well as Tree of Liberty, a tea party forum known to have been frequented by users which supported Hutaree, the Christian militia recently arrested in Michigan.
One YouTube user, jonah70757, has enthusiastically posted links and audio broadcasts rallying support for Guardians of the Free Republics’ call for revolution. The user brandishes various weapons, seemingly in preparation for a violent revolution, and posts videos about militias, tea parties, and conspiracies about President Obama’s birth. Watch a ThinkProgress compilation of jonah70757’s videos:
All this is coming amid rising anxieties among government workers generally:
Four days after a gunman shot two federal policemen near the Pentagon entrance, federal employee Sandy Ressler posted a short essay online, expressing dismay at what appeared to be an increasingly hostile climate for government workers.
"I work for the government and I am NOT the enemy," read his March 8 post on the social networking site GovLoop. Ressler, a program manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, lamented that the country is becoming "more and more polarized" and worried about growing misperceptions about federal employees. His post generated scores of sympathetic comments from fellow federal employees.
Their concerns are justified: Weapons violations on federal properties increased by 10 percent over the last year; threats against IRS facilities are up by 11 percent. And while threats are up, the level of protection at federal buildings is down. The Federal Protective Service has shrunk by 15 percent over the last seven years; hundreds of IRS buildings have no security at all.
Dozens of employees interviewed by Federal Times over the last two weeks say they have been concerned for months about security. They're worried about the anti-government rhetoric in the U.S.; they fear that the public is developing an impression of federal employees as overpaid, lazy and controlling.
"Fed-bashing may be the only true bipartisan issue," said Kenneth Goldman, a manager at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
Worse, many say they fear violence against feds has been legitimized. They blame that on a number of culprits — extremist groups, the media and even some politicians.
And while the talkers who are irresponsibly spreading this extremism on the airwaves deserve the lion's share of culpability for this phenomenon, we mustn't forget the Beltway insiders who eagerly pretend it all away, and their role in making it happen, too.