Monday, 26 August 2013

Criminalizing the Right? Military Labels Founding Fathers "Extremist"

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Defense Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request purporting to train U.S. soldiers and sailors label the Founding Fathers of the United States as “extremists” and claim that “participation in extremism is inconsistent with the duties of military service.”

The documents, compiled from a January 2013 lecture on “Extremism” by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, claim that:  

In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.

The DEOMI describes itself on its website this way: “The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) is a joint Service field activity of the Department of Defense” which “graduates approximately 1,250 resident students per year” from every branch of the armed forces. The purpose of the organization, created in 1972, was to ensure equal opportunity within the armed forces of the United States. 

The lecture also claims that “Individuals who hold extremist views are in conflict with the standards expected of all military members, and participation in extremism is inconsistent with the duties of military service.” So it may be that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton would be unwelcome in the armed forces of the United States, if DEOMI had its way. 

But what is “extremism,” according to DEOMI? “Extremism” is clearly a vague word that can have any meaning whatsoever, depending upon the intent of the person employing the term. DEOMI defines it this way:

All nations have an ideology, something in which they believe. When a political ideology falls outside the norms of a society, it is known as extremism. When extremists take their ideology to the next level and believe that it is the only right ideology to follow, it becomes supremism.

This explanation only begs the question, Who determines what is “outside the norms of a society” or what “the next level” means? DEOMI provides the answer, and it is pretty much a smear of anyone seeking any limits to federal government power: 

Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.

This language is not new, as similar language was employed in an April 2009 document by the Department of Homeland Security that claimed many critics of big government were just one provocation away from rolling bombs into government buildings. In Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, the DHS said that “Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into two groups, those groups ... that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.”

That 2009 document was prepared by U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division and they highlighted the fact that it had been “coordinated with the FBI."

The new DEOMI document goes much farther than the DHS Rightwing Extremism publication, which was widely criticized at the time. DEOMI is charged with educating Equal Opportunity Advisors (EOA) throughout the armed services, and counsels its students: 

As an EOA, it is important to understand and recognize extremism. While extremist groups may seek to join the military and to recruit military members to their causes, military members must reject participation in organizations that promote supremacist causes.

Much like political officers in the old Soviet Army, the “Equal Opportunity Advisors” are charged with policing the political views of their unit: “Furthering the objectives of extremist organizations is viewed as detrimental to the good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment of the unit and is, therefore, subject to appropriate disciplinary action. As an EOA, you should assist the unit commanders in being vigilant about the existence of such activities.”

But the EOA officers are not counseled to stop at doing the policing of their own unit's political opinions; they are charged with getting soldiers, sailors, and airmen to police their own views, and even hold communist-like self-criticism sessions: 

It is the responsibility of each and every military member to help combat extremism in the military. Each member should examine how his or her action or inaction can affect mission accomplishment. Just the presence of a member with extremist views can have an adverse impact on the performance of a unit.

The lecture drones on:

Extremism is prohibited in the military in accordance with DoDD 1325.6. Combating extremism in the military begins with the individual. Each person should: 

• Examine personal viewpoints in light of military values and loyalty. 

• Reject affiliation with any extremist organizations. 

• Decline the distribution or circulation of extremist literature. 

• Encourage others to avoid extremist affiliations and views. 

• Report indicators of extremism to the appropriate command.

The anonymous author's citation of Department of Defense Directive 1325.6 is instructive, as the vague word “extremism” was added to DoDD 1325.6 by Obama officials only recently, on February 22, 2012. It didn't appear in the original 1996 directive

Interestingly enough, among the resources cited for use by DEOMI is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a long history of attacking groups seeking smaller government as “extremist” and, therefore, linked to “hate groups.” For example, on August 20 of this year Don Terry of the SPLC posted a smear of Ron Paul, conservative Catholics, and The John Birch Society in a single article titled “Ron Paul, Birch President to Speak at Anti-Semitic Conference.”  The article noted that former Rep. Ron Paul and John Birch Society President John F. McManus were slated to speak “at a conference in Canada sponsored by the Fatima Center, part of the 'radical traditionalist Catholic' movement, perhaps the single largest group of hard-core anti-Semites in North America.”

Hard-core anti-Semites? All three of the groups/persons mentioned deny they are anti-Semitic, so how “hard core” can they really be? The article claims of The John Birch Society that the “JBS has been dogged for decades by charges of anti-Semitism,” though even the liberal Anti-Defamation League has for decades claimed it was not anti-Semitic. Ron Paul is apparently a “hard core” anti-Semite to the SPLC because he believes that the United States should cut off foreign aid to Israel.

But the federal government is increasingly relying upon the SPLC as a resource in its attempts to smear — and increasingly, criminalize — anyone who criticizes the extent of government power. And traditional constitutionalism, even that represented by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton, is “outside the norms” of modern American society and incompatible for service in the U.S. military.

Image: John Trumbull's painting, "The Declaration of Independence"