West Point Combating Terrorism Center Report: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right

The following report was released January 15, 2013 by the Combating Terrorism Center at Westpoint.

Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right

  • 148 pages
  • November 2012

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In the last few years, and especially since 2007, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self-identify with the far-right of American politics. These incidents cause many to wonder whether these are isolated attacks, an increasing trend, part of increasing societal violence, or attributable to some other condition. To date, however, there has been limited systematic documentation and analysis of incidents of American domestic violence.

This study provides a conceptual foundation for understanding different far-right groups and then presents the empirical analysis of violent incidents to identify those perpetrating attacks and their associated trends. Through a comprehensive look at the data, this study addresses three core questions:

(1) What are the main current characteristics of the violence produced by the far right?

(2) What type of far-right groups are more prone than others to engage in violence? How are characteristics of particular far-right groups correlated with their tendency to engage in violence?

(3) What are the social and political factors associated with the level of far-right violence? Are there political or social conditions that foster or discourage violence?
It is important to note that this study concentrates on those individuals and groups who have actually perpetuated violence and is not a comprehensive analysis of the political causes with which some far-right extremists identify. While the ability to hold and appropriately articulate diverse political views is an American strength, extremists committing acts of violence in the name of those causes undermine the freedoms that they purport to espouse.

3.1.2 – Anti-Federalist Movement: Ideological Foundations

In contrast to the relatively long tradition of the white supremacy racist movement, the anti-federalist movement appeared in full force only in the early to mid-1990s, with the emergence of groups such as the Militia of Montana and the Michigan Militia. Anti-federalism is normally identified in the literature as the “Militia” or “Patriot” movement. Anti-federalist and anti-government sentiments were present in American society before the 1990s in diverse movements and ideological associations promoting anti-taxation, gun rights, survivalist practices, and libertarian ideas. However, most scholars concur that the 1980s “farm crises,” combined with the implications of rapid economic, cultural and technological changes in American society, growing political influences of minority groups, and attempts to revise gun control and environmental legislation, facilitated the rapid emergence of a cohesive movement in the mid to late 1990s. In other words, the militia movement was a reactive social movement which mobilized in response to specific perceived threats.

The anti-federalist movement’s ideology is based on the idea that there is an urgent need to undermine the influence, legitimacy and practical sovereignty of the federal government and its proxy organizations. The groups comprising the movement suggest several rationales that seek to legitimize anti-federal sentiments. Some groups are driven by a strong conviction that the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a “New World Order,” (NWO) in which the United States will be embedded in the UN or another version of global government. The NWO will be advanced, they believe, via steady transition of powers from local to federal law-enforcement agencies, i.e., the transformation of local police and law-enforcement agencies into a federally controlled “National Police” agency that will in turn merge with a “Multi-National Peace Keeping Force.” The latter deployment on US soil will be justified via a domestic campaign implemented by interested parties that will emphasize American society’s deficiencies and US government incompetency. This will convince the American people that restoring stability and order inevitably demands the use of international forces. The last stage, according to most NWO narratives, involves the transformation of the United States government into an international/world government and the execution and oppression of those opposing this process. Linda Thompson, the head of the Unorganized Militia of the United States details the consequence of this global coup: ”This is the coming of the New World Order. A one-world government, where, in order to put the new government in place, we must all be disarmed first. To do that, the government is deliberately creating schisms in our society, funding both the anti-abortion/pro-choice sides, the antigun/pro-gun issues…trying to provoke a riot that will allow martial law to be implemented and all weapons seized, while ‘dissidents’ are put safely away”. The fear of the materialization of the NWO makes most militias not merely hostile towards the federal government but also hostile towards international organizations, whether non-profitable NGOs, international corporations, or political institutions of the international community, such as the UN.

The militias’ anti-federalist sentiments are also rationalized by their perception of the corrupted and tyrannical nature of the federal government and its apparent tendency to violate individuals’ civilian liberties and constitutional rights. That is why they are concerned about the transformation of the United States into a police state in which power is used arbitrarily and without accountability. In the words of a Missouri Militia member, “One of the things that people really fear from the government is the idea that the government can ruin your life; totally destroy your life….split your family up, do the whole thing and walk off like you’re a discarded banana peel, and with a ho-hum attitude.”

In the context of violation of constitutional rights, militia members in particular tend to point out the steady increase in gun control and environmental legislation and the overregulation of the economic and social realms, especially in regard to immigration and education issues. The opposition to gun control legislation has been driven mainly by the perception of many that this represents a breach of the Second Amendment and a direct violation of a constitutional right, having direct impact on the ability of many to preserve their common practices and way of life. In contrast, the opposition to environmental legislation has been driven by the economic consequences of this legislation, as perceived by the militia members, in particular the decline of industries which are not environmentally friendly but crucial for the economy in rural areas. The Testimony of Susan Schock reveals the resulting frustration, clearly expressed in the words of Charles Shumway, Arizona Militia member: “Unless the ‘curse’ of the Endangered Species Act was repealed, there would be ‘rioting, bloodshed, rebellion and conflict that will make the Serbian-Bosnia affair look like a Sunday picnic.’”

Finally, many of the militias also legitimize their ideological tendencies by referring to the strong role of civilian activism, civilian paramilitary groups, individual freedoms, and self-governing and frontier culture in America’s history and ethos, especially during the Revolutionary War and the expansion to the West. Hence, members of these groups see themselves as the successors of the nation’s founding fathers, and as part of a struggle to restore or preserve what they regard as America’s true identity, values and way of life.

To conclude, it should be noted that historically some of the anti-federalist groups have absorbed racist and Christian Identity sentiments; nonetheless, the glue binding their membership and driving their activism has been and remains hostility, fear and the need to challenge or restrict the sovereignty of the federal government.

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13 comments for “West Point Combating Terrorism Center Report: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right

  1. A Stranger in a Strange Land
    January 21, 2013 at 12:46 am

    These people have taken leave of their minds. Will they be satisfied when they succeed in provoking the war their blood-lust demands? God forbid!

  2. Tony Anthony
    January 22, 2013 at 2:52 am

    You guys as so full of crap. The problem here is that you are on a 24/7 mission to fill Americans mind with nothing short of lies and propaganda.
    The Democratic party found racism in the south had fueled it for 100 years.

    A new report issued by the Westpoint Combating Terrorism Center purports to raise the alarm on a “dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self-identify with the far-right of American politics.”

    Got that? That’s conservatives who are violent, right?

    Wrong.

    The report, titled “Challengers From the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” looks at three major categories of the allegedly violent Right. They are: “a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.”

    In the first group, you’ve got your Nazis and your KKK, including skinheads. Let’s review some real history, not the revisionist leftist stuff taught in schools. The word “Nazi” is a compound-contraction of the German words for “National Socialist Workers Party.” Note the word “socialist.”

    In the 1930s, as the Nazis rose to prominence, they were supported by many in the political Left in America. To this day, the Nazis in America remain a leftist group in that they do not believe in equality, individual liberty or tolerance, which are the principles that inspired the Founding Fathers and forged the American character. The KKK, similarly, was founded by Democrats to oppose the equality and personal liberty of blacks. As recently as a few years ago, the Democrat Party included a prominent KKK Grand Cyclops, Robert Byrd, who found a home in the Senate.

    The American Communist, Socialist and Nazi Parties all have endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement. None of them has endorsed the Tea Party or the GOP. The report tries to link the groups’ racism to conservatives, but it is the Democrat Party that is full of racist groups, including for blacks and hispanics. And don’t get me started on the Islamic terrorist fronts like CAIR.

    The Nazis and KKK have always fit right in with the rest of the Left. Democrats just don’t want to admit it because those two groups promote whites, which is politically incorrect, and liberals have invested a lot of energy in teaching gullible children who turn into gullible adults that racism is a characteristic of conservatives.

    Skipping to the report’s third group, the supposed “fundamentalist movement,” the author identifies this group as “Christian Identity,” citing the example of the Aryan Nation, which is, once again, a Nazi group. According to the report, these people “fuse religious fundamentalism with traditional white supremacy and racial tendencies, thus promoting ideas of nativism, exclusionism, and racial superiority through a unique interpretation of religious texts that focuses on division of humanity according to primordial attributes.”

    It’s a peculiar strain of thinking that would derive hatred of Jews, or anyone else, from the Bible, which mostly concerns itself with the Jews as God’s Chosen People. It’s particularly twisted to try to pin anti-Semitism on Christianity, which derives its identity from a Jewish carpenter who Christians acknowledge as the Son of God and Messiah. Historically, there have been plenty of people and entire churches that fell into sin and embraced anti-Semitism, but they weren’t behaving as Christians no matter what they called themselves. That sort of addled thinking historically is solidly on the Left, and the report is clearly trying to slander Bible-believing Christians.

    The American Revolution was fought by many Jewish patriots side by side with their Christian neighbors. In fact, the Revolution probably would have failed if not for the support of Haym Salomon, a Polish Jewish immigrant and patriot who near single-handedly secured funding for the war effort.

    Which brings us back to the other “terrorist” group in the report, the anti-federalist movement. The report’s author clearly is trying to tar this group as well, but he has a hard time of it. By the report’s own admission, the anti-federalists believe:

    “That the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a ‘New World Order’ (NWO) in which the United States will be absorbed into the United Nations or another version of global government. They also 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.”

    Based on this description, the report is trying to slander the Tea Party, veterans, believers in the Constitution and just about every true conservative. The statements about the NWO, government corruption and intrusion on individual rights are all rational conclusions that anyone who has observed our modern politics might reach. The nail in the coffin, in the report author’s thinking, is support for activism, individual freedom and self-government.

    If support of activism, freedom and self-government is terrorism, then I’m a terrorist. And a lot of decent Americans are, too.

    That seems to be the real point of the report. Average Americans who know their history and support American values are indeed a threat to the Left that runs our government because they ARE the extremists.

    Just ask yourself where you would feel safer, at a Tea Party or veterans rally, or at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration? Despite the Left’s many attempts to foment racist and violent incidents at Tea Party rallies, you won’t find any reports of crimes instigated by conservatives. OWS rallies, by comparison, are usually a rape/theft/assault/vandalism festival.

    The CTC report extolls “Progressives” and their “forward, future-based” thinking while lambasting conservatives’ archaic thought processes. It’s easy to praise the Left when you attribute leftist violence to someone else.

    The Left has to put out garbage like this report to confuse the public, because if they were honest about who they are or their goals, most Americans wouldn’t vote for them.

    Read more: http://godfatherpolitics.com/9035/new-report-looks-at-liberal-violence-blames-conservatives/#ixzz2IfX9olST

    • Stephen G
      February 24, 2013 at 4:19 am

      Al your are a sheep of the progressive liberials.You are brain washed by watching the liberial TV news station and news papers.You have not done any research on anything.you highly a assinine person that most likely lives off the hard working tax payers.It is scary to know so many people like you are so dumbed down and are like a sheep that falllows the one you give you free food etc. Tony is so right and yyou let the progressive liberials do your thinking.I bet you voted for obama who is a communist muslim brotherhood member but you can’t see it because you do not know how to think for your self.Please educate your self and do some major research sheepman.

    • AnnoLoki
      March 7, 2013 at 7:34 am

      The left/right paradigm is an excellent way of keeping a population fighting with itself, where the ruling ‘top’ have no such interest in such frivolities, but will happily use elements of both.

      You, who seem to be in the camp of believing it’s “all the left’s fault” while believing the right to be pure, have fallen victim to this too.

      You are mostly correct about the US government stripping back civilian rights, although this is being done under the counter-terrorism paradigm, being a “global war” means that everywhere is a war zone which means anyone can be labelled an enemy combatant with no boundaries. You are completely wrong, however, in regards to the role of the UN. I don’t know where this idea has come from in your population, but the UN is, in many respects, at complete odds with the US, and much of the people in the rest of the world want the US *OUT* of the UN, because it’s constantly blocking attempts to develop and stop wars out here, and most of all, the US simply will not act lawfully (either externally or with its own citizens). The US has way too much power within the UN, and holds itself to a different set of standards than it holds others. You are confusing which is the dominant power.

      The UN is an excellent distraction though. Always easy to blame the outsiders. I believe Assad in Syria is doing the same thing.

  3. Al Dorman
    January 22, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Ignore Tony’s rant, absolutely nothing of value in there (fair warning).

  4. Jacob Gabel
    January 23, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I was tortured for almost 3 years by the FBI and their friends only
    because 85 years old man, Roland Sibens(chicago) convinced them that I
    am a terrorist. I was tortured for working on my prosthetic legs in
    the basement. I done absolutely nothing illegal or wrong. They thought
    that in theory it is possible to hide bomb in them. They saw an
    opportunity to get famous, so they were trying to torture me till I
    sign their insane story. They tortured me using more than 100
    different torturing methods and trust to me waterboarding is not how
    they torture nowadays. I dont know where to find justice.

    I think that after 9/11 things got out of control. Freedom fighters
    became tyrants. In 1945, most Germans had an opportunity to learn about Nazis death
    camps. I hope that one day American citizens will get chance to learn about people
    like me, who were tortured with no reason for years.

  5. Matt
    January 25, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Okay, I don’t have time to actually write neatly or coherently, that is, to proof read. Its late, but let me just map out my thoughts:

    I am in complete favor of the gun ban, and for years I’ve thought those people who are against the government in fear of NWO were crazy.

    However… let me explain something. Lately, I’m starting to slightly believe what people call conspiracy theorists. They are no more crazy or hostile than any other group. All they really are are people who use critical thinking and investigate. They’re open minded. Open-mindedness is what all people will claim is so good, but when they are actually put to the test, they hug the status quo (so most aren’t actually open-minded). Anyway, there is nothing crazy or demented about considering the possibility that the government is a criminal organization who will never stop until NWO has taken over. NWO is definitely possible. Anything is possible. Do you seriously think that were are too advanced or modern for greed to exist? We have been seeing a shift toward globalism lately anyway- where do you think many jobs in the US have gone? Overseas is where… to people who are willing to work for slave wages. If the government is trying to fix the economy, then why are they raising taxes, implement Obamacare (which focuses on money rather than health), and talking about a future carbon tax when global warming is mainly solargenic, not anthropogenic? The mainstream media even said that the rich are getting richer. How is this okay in a time of economic crisis?

    Another thing: I am one who believes things as I see them. And I use logic. The basic logic goes: if the government is run by a lying bunch of conspirators (which is definitely possible), then obviously they would have hi-jacked the media in order to engineer social perception before implementing any critical advances toward NWO. So why aren’t the mainstream media (MSM) telling us about the massive amount of Fukushima radiation in our food supply? Instead, the government magically increased the amount of radiation that is ‘safe’ to our bodies. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that your body’s vulnerability to radiation doesn’t change just because some government changed a number. Also, why aren’t the MSM telling us about the witnesses that saw more shooters at Sandy Hook? This isn’t that crazy sounding to me. Why aren’t the MSM telling us that all the shooters were on pharmacological drugs, namely SSRI’s. Why aren’t the MSM talking at all about Monsanto. They are destroying the food supply. GMOs have been found to cause cancer and disrupt the reproductive system, but the government is pro-GMO. Obama lied about labeling too. He lied about taxes… about the war… about closing down GITMO… he’s a liar.

    Also, why is our drinking water contaminated with carcinogens? Why do we have to work just to pay 2000x more for clean water than anybody naturally should… and its still not even clean? Bottled water is mostly tap water, and it contains BPA.

    This is what I see, so this is what I believe- namely, that we’re being lied to.

    Why aren’t the MSM telling us about all the controversial evidence that 9/11 wasn’t what we all think it was? I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I still think there is some investigating that needs done on 9/11. The government said they didn’t take part in it. But the defendant in court also said he didn’t kill his wife. This is why we look at evidence. And the 9/11 evidence is shocking to me.

    Stop thinking in the now… start putting current events into historic perspective. Realize something: in all of history, the despots falsely defined those who were against their agenda as ‘enemy combatants.’ This is what I see today too.

    So no, these political dissidents are not crazy. Most of the people who are the conspiracy theorist type that I know never condone violence. The reason they believe what they believe is because of their original longings for peace and justice. Violent people are wrong I believe… but not all political dissidents are violent. I do believe, however, that violence is necessary when someone tries to wrongly take your liberty, your freedom, your food, your life, etc.

    So I think everybody needs to reconsider what they believe and realize that anything is possible. Also realize that the US government TORTURES people now. Something is seriously wrong.

    • Raccoon
      January 31, 2013 at 3:28 am

      Yup, you got it, it sounds like a lot of Socialist propaganda crap floating around here and a lot of good imaginations. I particularly like the story of the guy (Jacob) who was tortured by the FBI because of a prosthetic leg and a bogus allegation. Damn good thing that guy won’t go before a court because he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on!!!!!

  6. JASON SCHAAT
    January 29, 2013 at 4:11 am

    Cold and puerile! I’ve seen more facts in a comic book. Let’s not forget how the leftists have destroyed property and killed thousands. Arie Perliger, you should get your money back on that Communist education.
    The only brainwashing here is your paper. To compare the KKK or Nazis to the American Militia is unforgivable. There will be a day of reckoning for your kind. How do you explain the ACLU lawsuits against the National Defense and Authorization Act 2013? Have you read that? Or how about the Constitution-Free zone, do you know what that is?
    You’re a mindless oaf with a second rate writing style a propensity for plagiarism. Maybe you, Bill Ayers, and Van Jones could get together and plan another paper while you fondle yourselves as you brainstorm about it. GFY!

  7. Socrates
    March 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    To my so-called conservative thinking colleagues -

    Denial is a Johnny OneNote defense mechanism

  8. Oslo
    November 26, 2013 at 2:56 am

    My God. I was searching for this paper to use as a reference for a thesis and was shocked to find find a bunch of babbling nut cases ranting about the very things the paper is trying to shed light on.

    Whether you idiots intend to or not, you are proving the West Point Institute’s thesis for them. I must admit that I find that hilarious.

    Stop blaming other people for your misfortunes and get over it.

  9. EM
    December 13, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Wow oslo I salute you. You will fit right into the ranks of people ordering the killing of american citizens. The trial for warcrimes is coming.

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