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West Point center cites dangers of ‘far right’ in U.S.
Question of the Day
A West Point think tank has issued a paper warning America about "far right" groups such as the "anti-federalist" movement, which supports "civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government."
The report issued this week by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is titled "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right."
The center — part of the institution where men and women are molded into Army officers — posted the report Tuesday. It lumps limited government activists with three movements it identifies as "a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement."
The West Point center typically focuses reports on al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists attempting to gain power in Asia, the Middle East and Africa through violence.
But its latest study turns inward and paints a broad brush of people it considers "far right."
It says anti-federalists "espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals' civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement."
The report also draws a link between the mainstream conservative movement and the violent "far right," and describes liberals as "future oriented" and conservatives as living in the past.
"While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive -oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo." the report says. "The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community."
The report adds: "While far-right groups' ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners, the liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power."
The report says there were 350 "attacks initiated by far-right groups/individuals" in 2011.
Details about what makes an attack a "far right" action are not clear in the report, which was written by Arie Perliger, who directs the center's terrorism studies and teaches social sciences at West Point.
A Republican congressional staffer who served in the military told The Washington Times: "If [the Defense Department] is looking for places to cut spending, this junk study is ground zero.
"Shouldn't the Combating Terrorism Center be combating radical Islam around the globe instead of perpetuating the left's myth that right-wingers are terrorists?" the staffer said. "The $64,000 dollar question is when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?"
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