When I first became involved in political issues and events some 45 years ago as a young man just out of high school, it was because I believed in the ideals of our Founding Fathers. I had a young man’s zeal for the American dream of individuals living their lives free of government control and harassment. I was comfortable in the knowledge that I lived in the greatest nation on earth, where I could speak my mind; choose my own future; and nothing but my own limitations would stand in my way.
The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were my guidelines. I learned of them in a public school classroom, where we were taught why the American system of free enterprise and limited government were the reasons the United States had the highest standard of living in the world. It was the reason our solders were proud to serve and defend those ideas. Around the world, we were known as honest, trustworthy friends and allies. We were the envy of the world.
I got involved in politics, supporting these ideas, at a time when radical leftists who hated our style of government, were marching in the streets, carrying placards of Mao and labeling our nation “Amerika.” I stood against them. I gave speeches to local service clubs; I wrote articles; I took action on college campuses, fighting to keep them open and safe as these extremists were shutting down classes and even burning buildings. It was a time of great violence and it was the beginning of a long revolution that has now completely changed our nation.
How severe has America changed? Today, as I stand for exactly the same ideals of American liberty as I did in 1967, I have just been labeled a threat to my country by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In fact, they say I am a right wing extremist, a racist and a potentially violent domestic terrorist.
In a recent SPLC report entitled, “30 New Activists Heading Up The Radical Right,” I have been named along with what SPLC calls “Islamophobes,” “Political Opportunists,” “Religious Right Anti-Gay groups” and “Patriot groups.” Says the report, “Most dramatically, so- called ‘Patriot’ groups – which, unlike most hate groups, see the federal government as their primary enemy – have grown explosively in just the last three years…” Of course they’re talking about the Tea Party as a hate movement, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m listed. In particular, they report on my efforts against Agenda 21, saying “DeWeese’s outfit is only one of several obsessed with what has become one of the main conspiracy theories of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.” This new report from SPLC is just the latest in a series of attacks against Conservatives and others who support the founding principles of the United States, dating back over the past few years.
In March, 2010, SPLC issued a report entitled “Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism,” in which groups opposed to issues like the Obama health care plan and illegal immigration were lumped with white supremacist groups like the National Socialist Movement and Neo-Nazi Skin Heads.
In August, 2010 SPLC launched an attack against my organization, the American Policy Center, and our national conference, The Freedom Action Conference, held at Valley Forge, PA. The event featured such speakers as best selling author Tom Woods, former presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, Sheriff Richard Mack, five respected state legislators, and many more well known spokesmen.
The title of the SPLC attack against me read, “Patriot Rhetoric Becomes Increasingly Violent,” and said we were “united by rage” at the federal government. Not one speaker at our conference advocated violence or lawlessness of any kind. I can prove these statements because we have the entire conference on video tape. Yet we were labeled as dangerous and potentially violent terrorists by SPLC. In fact, Sherriff Richard Mack was specifically singled out as one of our speakers whom they say advocated violence. He has filed a law suit against SPLC and will use our video as part of his evidence.
Of course, annually SPLC puts out its list of what it calls “hate” groups and individuals it deems dangerous to the nation. That list is almost exclusively respected pro-Constitution spokesmen.
I live in the world of rough and tumble politics. Charges are regularly made in both directions. I give as good as I get. I attack over opposition to policy. They attack me for the same reason. It’s called political discourse; debate; and free speech. It’s been our right to participate in such public activity for over 200 years. So, why do I care what this one private organization (SPLC), with its own political agenda, says about me?
I care because the Southern Poverty Law Center has direct ties to the Department of Homeland Security, helping to write official DHS policy that may affect my life, my freedom, my ability to travel and my ability to speak out.
Consider the following facts:
Item: In 2009, The DHS issued a report entitled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
That official document of an agency of the United States government said “Right- wing 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 anti- government, 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.”
Item: Two weeks later, the DHS released a second report entitled: “Domestic Extremism Lexicon,” designed to provide specific definitions of just who may be Right wing extremists.
That report labeled the following to be extremists, bordering on terrorism: Those concerned over the economy; loss of jobs; foreclosures; antagonism toward the Obama Administration; Criticism of free trade programs; anti-abortion; oppose same sex marriage; believe in the “end times;” stock pile food; oppose illegal immigration; oppose a New World Order; oppose the UN; oppose global governance; fear of Communist regimes; oppose loss of US manufacturing to overseas nations; oppose loss of US prestige; use of the internet (or alternative media) to express any of these ideas.
Right after both of these reports were issued, there was the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. Next to their news reports on the incident, many newspapers carried side bar articles citing the DHS reports, basically confirming that such violence is perpetrated by right wing nuts and justifying the concerns of the DHS – just like clockwork. Yet there was absolutely no connection found between that shooter and the right wing. But the damage was done.
And there’s more.
The Department of Homeland Security has established Fusion Centers in each state. These are designed to combine federal, state and local law enforcement. Their stated purpose is to assure immediate and efficient response to a terrorist attack or a Katrina-like disaster without bureaucratic red tape.
Item: However, in 2009, the Missouri Fusion Center set off a fire storm over a report it issued entitled “The Modern Militia Movement.” Reported Fox News, the report “identifies the warning signs of potential terrorists for law enforcement communities.” In other words, this report was issued to law enforcement agencies across the state as official documentation warning who the cops should look out for as potential violent terrorists.
The list of potential terrorists included Americans who voted for presidential candidate Ron Paul; Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin (who is included on the new 2012 list); and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr. It also cited those of us who opposed the creation of a North American Union with Canada and Mexico.
Item: Immediately following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Fusion Center issued a report saying that the shooter was influenced by a right wing group called American Renaissance. Immediately the mainstream media picked up the report and flooded the airways with the story that the radical and violent right wing was responsible for the shootings.
The information was completely wrong. There is no evidence that there was ever any connection between the shooter and American Renaissance. Moreover, American Renaissance has never advocated violence or extremism.
Item: in the Spring of 2010, the Department of Homeland Security organized a “Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.” This is an advisory council given the task of creating a plan to reach out to local law enforcement and community activists for training to respond to potential violence and terrorist threat.
Leafing through the report one gets the distinct impression that the plan is basically a “turn in your neighbor,” neighborhood- watch approach. It talks extensively of “sharing” information, along with “training, training, training.”
Training for what? To identify potential terrorists, of course. And who are those potential terrorist? A look at the members of the working group offers a clue. While the group includes several public officials and law enforcement officials from around the nation, and it also includes Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an un-indicted co-conspirator in a case concerning the funding of Muslim terrorist organizations. Note that the new 2012 SPLC report labels those who oppose radical Islamic activities as “Islamophobes.” Coincidence?
The working group member list also includes Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition, as one of the “Subject Matter Experts,” it lists Laurie Wood, an analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center and an instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
That training center is run by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is one of the most visible direct links between DHS, the Fusion Centers and SPLC. Law enforcement agencies actually send their personnel to these training classes to gain Federal Law Enforcement Training Center certification.
That means that policy for this DHS working group is being created by the very organization that has labeled those who advocate Constitutional law to be potential terrorists. In addition, the “training” called for in the report will most likely be conducted, at least in part, by the SPLC’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
The pattern is clear, one of the nation’s leading hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which opposes even the right of free speech by people it labels potential terrorists, is helping the largest federal enforcement agency in the nation to create its policy.
That policy clearly implies, according to DHS reports, that anyone disagreeing with actions of the American government is a potential terrorist and must be, at least, watched and monitored by federal, state, and local authorities.
The result of such surveillance could possibly lead to loss of freedom, loss of jobs, loss of the ability to travel, and loss of the ability to speak publicly, for anyone who opposes the private agenda of the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is an effort to silence their opponents. Honest political debate is now being interpreted as dangerous extremism.
Why is DHS dealing with such people? Are the policies of SPLC the same policies of the United States? If so, then freedom in America is in grave danger, indeed.
I believe there needs to be an immediate Congressional investigation into the ties between the Department of Homeland Security and the Southern Poverty Law Center and any other radical groups.
Particular attention should be paid to SPLC’s tax exempt status and the amount of money it receives from DHS or any other agency. And there should be an immediate stop to American law enforcement being trained by SPLC’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
The specific purpose of the Department of Homeland Security is to protect the “STATE” against all enemies. According to its own reports, that has come to include anyone who uses their first amendment right to speak out against specific policies. Apparently, that has been interpreted by DHS to mean a threat to the STATE.
May I remind every American that the tanks which ran over the student protesters in Tiananmen Square in Communist China were also protecting the STATE against its enemies.
I fear that if private groups with their own political agendas, like the SPLC are allowed to continue feeding their own brand of hatred into the policies of DHS, then such a comparison with China is not too far off. I don’t think that is the America any of us, whether liberal or conservative, wants.
Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. Go to americanpolicy.org for more information