By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN
An alarming Oct. 6 report by The Guardian says the FBI’s counter-terrorism division has created a new category of potential terrorists, the “black identity extremist,” claiming that “it is very likely Black Identity Extremist perception of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.”
However fancy the words, the target is clearly Black Lives Matter and could be the justification for law enforcement crackdown on the group.
“Extremist” groups have generally been mostly whites, some of whom openly reject the authority of the state, at times violently, and have attended public gatherings heavily armed.
A six-month investigation which Time conducted into extremist groups “reveals that recruiting, planning, training and explicit calls for a shooting war are on the rise…,” the magazine reported on Sept.
“Within a complex web of ideologies, most of today’s armed radicals are linked by self-described Patriot beliefs which emphasize resistance to tyranny by force of arms and reject the idea that elections can fix what ails the country,” Time said.
The government itself was so concerned at the rise of armed militias that, in 2009, shortly after President Barack H.
Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States,” The Intercept news site reported.
Rather than being a call to action, that report drew such strong criticism that then DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano distanced herself from it. The DHS unit investigating rightwing extremism was virtually dismantled and the lead investigator was forced out.
It did not seem to matter that investigators had been discovering that “rightwing extremists” were infiltrating law enforcement agencies across the nation and that, according to a CNN report in 2015, such groups “will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”
There was already evidence that such extremists were willing to take up arms against the state, as happened at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in August 1992, in a bloody confrontation when U.S. Marshals tried to arrest a fugitive, Randy Weaver, and again between FBI agents and members of the Branch Davidian in April 1993 in Waco, Texas.
In April 2014, an armed group rallied to the side of Nevada rancher Cliven D. Bundy as federal and state law enforcement agents tried to seize his cattle for failure to pay grazing fees. The government backed down, though the FBI arrested Bundy on Feb. 20, 2016.
On Jan. 2, 2016, Bundy’s son Ammon led an armed standoff against the government at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. He and his supporters demanded that the U.S. hand over federal public lands to individual states. The confrontation lasted until Feb. 11, 2016.
The Bundy incidents served to harden the belief among some Americans that the federal government is illegitimate and that ultimate power rests not just with states but, for the more radical ones, with the county sheriff.
Membership in hardline anti-government organizations soared with Obama’s election – along with gun sales. The number of radical militias and anti-government groups soared to 1,360 in 2012 from just 149 four years earlier, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported.
With all that going on, the FBI has seen fit to demonize a black movement whose only concern is police brutality. It is hard to conceive of a group of heavily armed blacks taking over a government facility or otherwise confronting federal agents with assault rifles without being wiped out – or even appearing in public with assault rifles.
The government has a track record of trying to suppress efforts by blacks to assert their citizenship rights, most notably, in contemporary times, the FBI’s harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. This “extremist” labeling is part of that pattern. It goes back to slavery and lynching, segregation and Jim Crow laws.
It perpetuates the myth that African Americans are an enduring threat to the state and must be suppressed. The tactics also include rigging voting districts and restoring virtually unfettered power to the police to enforce the “peace.”
There is a profound lesson in all of this: While the victors in war get to write history, the winners of elections get to make the laws. It is a lesson well worth considering by those who insist there is no value in voting.