‘Ex­trem­ist’ des­ig­na­tion an­other tac­tic to sup­press black ac­tivism

South Florida Times - - OPINION - Guardian In­ter­cept Time The Time

An alarm­ing Oct. 6 re­port by

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 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. 30, 2010.

“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,” 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

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.

Do you re­al­ize that our his­tory is, at best, be­ing rewrit­ten? At worst, it is be­ing erased. And how is that hap­pen­ing?

For one, we are not writ­ing our own sto­ries! Maya An­gelou of­ten in­structed all of us to write our own sto­ries: Grow­ing up sto­ries, bar­ber­shop sto­ries and sto­ries about our so­ci­eties, our churches, our schools, our he­roes and 'sheroes,' our love sto­ries, our sad sto­ries and our glad sto­ries.

Un­like the mod­ern day Gri­ots - song­writ­ers, pop­u­lar stage and street po­ets who get pre­cious space in the pub­lic arena - their flames burn bright but that doesn't last too long; the rest of us sing, rap and dance to their words un­til the next hit comes along. Im­por­tant but tran­sient.

Where are you on that story-telling jour­ney? Are you still think­ing about it? Or, are you still get­ting mad when the other side keeps telling your story, and con­stantly get­ting it all wrong? Well, what are you wait­ing for? I urge you to be­gin. Now!

Es­pe­cially now that the phe­nom­e­non of 'fake news' and the dis­cus­sion of it has taken all the air out of any rea­son­able de­bate about what is real, or not.

Ev­ery­thing that we know is be­ing ques­tioned, and, given the speed at which the 'known' is be­ing de­nied, re­versed, re-pack­aged, and plumb thrown out of con­sid­er­a­tion (there is no such thing as facts any­more), it be­comes even more im­per­a­tive that we get our sto­ries 'told' and pre­served for the fu­ture.

Un­com­fort­able about the cur­rent state of af­fairs un­der "45"?

Don't make the mis­take think­ing that this too shall pass. (We are on the brink of an­other 'war' with North Korea. "45"'s war of words with Kim has es­ca­lated be­yond any mea­sure of play­ground pos­tur­ing, when one op­po­nent may have pro­nounced, "I take it back").

No. "45" has a scorched earth men­tal­ity, and he has no qualms about send­ing my sons, your daugh­ters (as long as they are not trans­gen­dered) into bat­tle for his own glo­ri­fi­ca­tion.

"45" has a clear agenda: to make him­self the chief ar­chi­tect of a new era, by first, burn­ing ev­ery sin­gle foun­da­tion for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence. He ob­vi­ously has no pa­tience with build­ing al­lies across in­ter­nal party lines, nor is he ex­tend­ing his hand of friend­ship to

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