I have a lot of issues with the American obsession around political binaries. But it's hard to deny that it's an overwhelming force that maintains a maddening influence on our country. Both-side-isms are built on the assumption that the "political center" is the exact middle between two equal but opposite poles. Given the choice between killing 100 people, or killing none, this kind of radical centrist confidently strides forward with their "logical" assertion that killing 50 people is the only possible solution that would allow us to maintain what they see as the equilibrium of the status quo.
The latest example of this comes from an FBI briefing in front of the House Judiciary Committee in early February. The bureau has been working to fine-tune its language in order to better address the (very real!) threat of domestic terrorism, which has often gone overlooked in the past. As part of these linguistic changes, the FBI has broken down domestic terrorism into four broad categories, including "abortion violent extremism," which FBI Director Christopher Wray described as "people on either side of that issue who commit violence on behalf of different views on that topic."
Rep. Karen Bass of California rightly pointed out to Wray that there is no evidence of violence on "both sides" of the abortion issue. But Wray insisted that the threats must be balanced on both sides. Later, when pressed by the Daily Beast, the FBI could only cite a single instance of "pro-choice extremism," which involved a man who threatened anti-abortion activists online. Read the rest
Matt Shea has served as a state representative for Washington since 2008. He's also a violent religious separatist and a member of the extreme right-wing Patriot Movement. Shea was an ardent supporter of Cliven Bundy, the Mormon extremist who lead a face-off with the government over cattle-grazing fees and an admitted act of arson, and later joined in on the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He also has a history of violent road rage, and has been accused of physical abuse by multiple ex-wives. And then there was that whole thing with child training camps for an impending race war.
Somehow, none of that has disqualified him thus far from serving in the Washington State House of Representatives. But that might change, thanks to a new report from an independent investigation into his activities. From NPR:
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Independent investigators commissioned by the Washington State House of Representatives found that Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, "planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States government" between 2014 and 2016.
The report also concluded that Shea was involved in training young people to fight a "holy war." He created a pamphlet called Biblical Basis for War and advocated replacing the government with a theocracy and "the killing of all males who do not agree."
Chat messages showed Shea, a lawyer who was first elected in 2008, condoned intimidation of opponents, political activists, government officials and Muslims.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the "sovereign citizen" movement/conspiracy theory (previously) has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to a combination of the rise of antisemitism (long a dogwhistle in the movement, now out in the open), an increase in financial desperation and a sense of betrayal, and the movement's ability to realize real cash for its members, who have systematically defrauded the underfunded and resource-strapped IRS of move than $1B.
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A survey by the Military Times found that nearly a quarter of US servicepeople see "white nationalism" among their peers, and believe that the white nationalist agenda is more of a national security threat than "Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan."
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Donald Trump represents the eminently foreseeable outcome of Reagan's Republican bargain: welding together a coalition of racists and religious fanatics with the finance sector and its lobbyists, making two groups who had spent a century cordially loathing each other into one. Read the rest
A man in Florida was arrested last week for planning to use “a weapon of mass destruction” at a synagogue near Miami, federal authorities said today. The ill-fated words that James Gonzalo Medina reportedly uttered to the undercover FBI agent who sold him a fake explosive device, words which will likely seal the suspect's fate: “I’m ready, bro!”
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