Meet Arie Perliger, West Point professor now dabbling in "domestic extremism."
Many thanks to the reader who forwarded me the link to this article: "Identifying Three Trends in Far Right Violence in the United States."
The author, Arie Perliger, is, according to his own bio:
(T)he Director of Terrorism Studies at the Combating Terrorism Center and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His research focuses on political violence and extremism and the principal ways democracies respond to these challenges; the politics of security and the radical right in Israel, Europe and the US.He is the author of four books and more than 20 articles and book chapters. His work has appeared in peer reviewed journals such as Social Forces, Security Studies, PS: Political Science, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Armed Forces and Society and others.Dr. Perliger is the co-editor of the journal Democracy and Security and is a regular reviewer for Columbia University Press, Chicago University Press, Routledge, Polity Press, Political Psychology, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence, Armed Forces and Society and other journals.
And what, you may ask, is the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point?
MissionSituated at the nexus of theory and practice, the Combating Terrorism Center serves as an important national resource that rigorously studies the terrorist threat and provides policy-relevant research while moving the boundaries of academic knowledge. The CTC’s distinguished scholars, international network of experts, and access to senior U.S. government leadership set it apart from any other like enterprise.We Teach: As an institution, we embrace the unique responsibility to prepare cadets to think critically about the challenges they will face during war and peace. To this end, the Center directs multiple graduate-level seminars on Terrorism and Counterterrorism and administers a minor in terrorism studies. In addition, the CTC directs counterterrorism educational programs for four partner government agencies.We Research: The CTC’s research program produces path-breaking analysis on the dynamic and evolving terrorist threat. The Center’s deep intellectual capital and ability to apply theory to practice creates a unique research model that not only informs strategic counterterrorism thinking but moves the boundaries of academic knowledge.We Advise: Due to the Center’s unique position at the nexus of academia and practice, the Center leverages its deep expertise to contribute to discrete advisory efforts for federal, state, and local governments including: strategic analysis, operational support, and organizational strategy design.
Take a look at the CTC's personnel list. These are some serious folks.
Now, all of Perliger's previous research and experience has been in Israeli "right-wing extremism," see here, here, and here.
Apparently, however, Perliger is now branching out, into a subject about which he apparently knows exactly . . . dick. First evidence? Look at his sources listed on his website:
Predictably, under "Relevant links" lists The Southern Preposterous Lie Center and under "Datasets" lists SPLC's "Hate Incidents."
Also, given his sources listed at the end of the article in Note 2: Richard "Abens'" American Militias; Joel Dyer's Harvest of Rage; and Kathlyn Gay's Militias: Armed and Dangerous, it is not surprising that his paper reflects "The Narrative of 1995" critiqued by historian Prof. Robert H. Churchill in his book To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement.
Heck, this West Point "professor" schmuck didn't even get Richard Abanes name right. Here is what Prof. Churchill has to say about the quality of Abanes' and other "Brown Scare" writers of the 90s:
The militia movement has been the subject of at least a dozen books and hundreds of articles, yet it remains one of the most poorly understood political movements of the twentieth century. In the months after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building by Timothy McVeigh, civil rights organizations issued at least a dozen published reports on the militia movement, and civil rights activists offered "expert" commentary in hundreds of news stories. Within a year, books by leading figures associated with civil rights organizations, including Morris Dees, Kenneth Stern, and Richard Abanes, offered a coherent narrative of the origin of the movement.What America learned in these months was that the militia movement was an outgrowth of the racist Right. Civil rights activists portrayed the militias as the armed wing of a much larger "Christian Patriot" movement. They warned that Christian Patriots numbered in the millions and that Christian Patriotism called for restoration of white, Christian, patriarchal domination. The Christian Patriot movement as a whole, and the militias in particular, were antidemocratic, paranoid, virulently anti-semitic, genocidally racist, and brutally violent. Much of this literature suggested that Timothy McVeigh was the movement's highest expression. In this narrative, the militias and the Patriot movement took on the guise of the perfect racist "other," and the threat they posed was best articulated by Morris Dees' apocalyptic vision of a "gathering storm."This "narrative of 1995" produced by civil rights organizations, coupled with the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing, triggered what Steven Chernak has referred to as a moral panic. Through published reports, their influence over the news coverage of the movement, and testimony at prominent public hearings, leading militia "experts" injected their portrait of the movement into public consciousness and popular culture. In news coverage, popular novels, episodes of Law and Order, and movies such as Arlington Road, the public became well-acquainted with the archetypal militiaman, usually protrayed as warped by racial hatred, obsessed with bizarre conspiracy theories, and hungry for violent retribution.The moral panic over the "militia menace" strongly resembled previous moral panics over the "communist menace" that had swept the nation in the aftermath of World War I and again in the early 1950s. Less well known than these two Red scares is America's "Brown Scare." In the late 1930s, political activists on the left warned that an array of far right opponents of President Roosevelt and the New Deal . . . constituted a fifth column composed of fascist brownshirts . . . (T)he ensuing moral panic facilitated a campaign of repression waged by the U.S. governemnt against the Far Right during World War II. In 1995-6, the moral panic over the militia movement blossomed into a second American Brown Scare.The literature produced by the second American Brown Scare has had significant impact on academic analysis of the movement, and this poses a problem for continuing scholarship. The civil rights organizations that produced the narrative of 1995 conceived of themselves as political opponents of the militia movement, and these organizations made the legal suppression of the movement one of their central political objectives. That political objective has systematically shaped their reporting on the movement. Their analyses might serve as a primary source base for an interesting analyis of how the activist Left perceived the Far Right at the turn of the millennium. To use this literature as a primary source base in an analysis of the character of the militia movement itself is to allow the movement's opponents to define it.Unfortunately, much of the scholarship on the militia movement produced in the last ten years has not broken free from the influence of the narrative of 1995. Too many scholars have relied on the reports and books generated by the Brown Scare as primary evidence of the character of the movement. Others who have avoided this first error have nevertheless allowed the narrative of 1995 to unduly influence their research agendas. Finally, even the best scholarship on militias tends to inappropriately conflate the militia movement with other movements on the far right of American politics and to overstate the influence of millennial thought on militia ideology. . .The final academic legacy of the Brown Scare is an emphasis on the allegedly close association of militia groups with other far right organizations, such as white supremacist groups, Christian Identity ministries, common-law courts, and tax protest societies. The narrative of 1995 lumped all of these disparate far right groups together in the "Christian Patriot movement," a misguided simplification that has led a number of senior scholars to blur the lines between different groups with quite different worldviews . . .Since the turn of the millennium, three scholars have begun the task of freeing scholarship of the militia movement from the narrative of 1995. . . As an historian, I hope to contribute to this field an insight gained in the study of other partisan political crises in American history: in evaluating the ideology of an insurgent movement, one must not allow the movement's partisan allies, much less its partisan enemies, to speak for it. (pp. 7-11)
It is obvious that Perliger either hasn't read Churchill's work, or, if he has, he doesn't care to let it get in the way of his own narrative. Perliger presents his own "Typology of the American Violent Far Right."
Three major ideological trends can be identified within the American violent far right: racist, anti-federalist and fundamentalist. The ideological characteristics of the various groups impact their operations in terms of tactics used and target selection.
It is the relabeling of the older terms "militia" and "patriot movement" into the "Anti-Federalist Trend" which makes Perliger's faulty analysis particularly dangerous.
The anti-federalist trend (which is usually identified in the literature as the “militia” or “patriot” 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-federalist and anti-government sentiments existed in U.S. society before the 1990s via diverse movements and ideological associations promoting anti-taxation, gun rights, and a “survivalist” lifestyle. Yet most scholars concur that the “farm crises” of the 1980s combined with the implications of rapid cultural, technological and normative changes in American society, as well as attempts to revise gun control and environmental legislation, facilitated the emergence of a fairly ideologically cohesive movement, as well as its rapid growth.Ideologically, anti-federalists are interested in undermining the influence, legitimacy and practical sovereignty of the federal government and its proxy organizations, such as the U.S. military or Federal Bureau of Investigation. This rationale is multifaceted, and includes the belief that the U.S. political system and its proxies have been 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; strong convictions regarding the corrupted and tyrannical nature of the federal government and its related natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civilian lives and constitutional rights; and finally, perceptions supporting civilian activism, individual freedoms, and self governing the way they were manifested in the frontier culture in U.S. history, especially during the Revolutionary War and the expansion to the American west. Hence, anti-federalist groups see themselves as part of a struggle to restore or preserve the United States’ “true” identity, values and “way of life” and as the successors of the country’s founding fathers.Recent research conducted by this author shows that in the case of the anti-federalist trend there is compatibility between ideological tenets and operational characteristics. Two-thirds of the attacks by anti-federalist groups were directed against the government and its proxies, such as law enforcement (65.8%); while attacks against minorities (11%) and infrastructure (6.1%, which could also be seen as attacks against the government) comprise most of the rest.
The article doesn't given us the statistical evidence upon which Perliger rests his claims, but if he's counting on the Southern Preposterous Lie Center, that is a slender scholarly reed indeed.
The important point is that Perliger has managed, by describing these "violent right-wing extremists" as "anti-federalist", to expand, elide and conflate these perceived enemies and, I'm sure, to present to the cadets at West Point the specter of "constitutionalist terrorists."
This is dangerous stuff. It may also be argued that the neo-Nazis and "Christian" Identity types which make up the other two-thirds of Perliger's article, are not even "right wing" since their particular collectivisms derive from variants of socialism. The constitutional militias, as Churchill quickly recognized when he did his own original research, were largely libertarian in make up and natural enemies of all forms of collectivism.
“I think in some ways Christian Identity is designed for pantywaists who are afraid to declare themselves true Nazis,” Vanderboegh jibed. “These are the folks who have to tell their mommas or their wives, “It’s OK that we hate blacks and Jews, dear, because God and Jesus told us it’s OK. Whereas the Nazis don’t worry about that kind of thing. They’re sort of beyond excuses.“You know, when you’ve got Adolf Hitler as your standard-bearer, what else have you got to be embarrassed about?” Vanderboegh said.“They each come to their pus-filled beliefs by different roads, but they agree on the destination.” -- “Christian Identity is for pantywaists” by Jeff Stein, Salon, 11 Aug 1999.
Yet, according to Perliger, we "anti-federalists" (and I surely acknowledge my Anti-Federalism, going back to Founders like George Mason and Patrick Henry) are now one of the "three trends of far right violence in the United States." AND THIS ILL-INFORMED SCHMUCK IS TEACHING WEST POINT CADETS.
Like I said, this is dangerous stuff.
George Mason, Anti-Federalist Terrorist?