Propagandizing the Police
by William Norman Grigg
Leftist "watchdogs" posing as experts on extremism are advising police agencies in "preemptive" law enforcement. The resulting dragnet will increasingly target law-abiding gun owners, pro-lifers, homeschoolers, and other foes of the total state.
A new state law that went into effect on October 1st permits law enforcement authorities in Connecticut to confiscate guns from anyone determined to be an "immediate danger" to himself or others. State police Lieutenant Robert Kiehm explained to the Associated Press that the purpose of the measure is to give police officers the power "to take some proactive steps instead of waiting for something to happen." Although the circumstances under which such seizures can occur are narrowly defined, the Connecticut law represents a significant advance for the ominous emerging doctrine of "pre-emptive" law enforcement.
"Lawmakers in other states say the focus on prevention is the law’s strength," reported AP. "The thing that frustrates me is that when they’re pulling bodies out of a house, neighbors are telling the police, ‘Yeah, the guy who shot them was nuts — we all knew that,’" declared Illinois State Representative Tom Dart (D), who plans to introduce a similar proposal in his own state. "But everyone says that there’s nothing that they could have done to stop the shooting."
"The value of this law is not so much that police will seize your guns," explained Connecticut State Representative Michael Lawlor, who sponsored the law. "It gives police a system to investigate a person who poses a threat. If the police never confiscate a person’s guns, they can at least look into the person’s behavior and perhaps prevent a tragedy by intervening." AP paraphrased Lawlor as saying that the new law could "stop people like Benjamin Smith, the white supremacist who killed two people and wounded nine during a two-state shooting spree targeting Jews, blacks and Asians. Smith’s criminal record and reputation for passing out hate literature could have prompted police to take action, Lawlor said."
Lawlor’s reference to the Benjamin Smith case demonstrates that there is a political aspect to Connecticut’s model of "proactive" gun confiscation, since Smith’s abhorrent political views would have played a role in defining him as a threat to others. But would the same be true of certain political views that are merely politically incorrect or unpopular? How about political affiliations with real or perceived "extremist" groups that are tirelessly "linked" in the media with unambiguous hate groups?
In principle, the Connecticut law is of a piece with recent proposals to give the FBI and other agencies enhanced power to keep political "extremists," almost always of the "right-wing" variety, under special scrutiny. Those "extremists" considered particularly prone to violence would be subject to interrogation as a means of deterring such outbursts. And, in some cases, "extremists" would find themselves denied constitutional protections such as those contained in the First and Second Amendments.
In order to be effective, pre-emptive law enforcement measures would require citizens to maintain vigilance for signs of "dangerous" attitudes on the part of their neighbors and associates — and to act as informants out of a sense of public duty. They would also require the indoctrination of police agencies regarding "danger signs" that evince an individual’s potential to carry out an armed rampage. The task of indoctrinating law enforcement officers is presently carried out by an array of left-wing "watchdog" groups such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith (ADL), Political Research Associates (PRA), and the Justice Department’s State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program (SLATT), a quasi-private entity. These groups, as well as sundry "experts" in loose orbit around them, provide much of the law enforcement training and intelligence information dealing with the threat posed by the "radical right."
In recent months, leftist "watchdog" groups have skillfully capitalized upon recent gun violence episodes — such as Benjamin Smith’s murder spree, neo-Nazi Buford Furrow’s shooting rampage at a Jewish day-care center, and Larry Ashbrook’s murderous assault upon the Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas — to advance their campaign for new federal powers to keep "right-wing extremists" under surveillance. In their eagerness to exploit these tragedies, the "watchdogs" have often displayed a contemptuous disregard of the specific facts of each episode, as the Wedgwood Baptist Church incident illustrates.
Following Larry Ashbrook’s September 17th attack upon worshipers at the Wedgwood Baptist Church, in which the gunman murdered seven worshipers before killing himself, extraordinary efforts were made to depict the assailant as a white supremacist motivated by anti-Semitic or racist impulses. This was done despite the fact that Ashbrook’s crime — the unprovoked mass murder of Christians gathered in a Texas sanctuary of worship — more nearly resembles the federal massacre of the Branch Davidians than any crime carried out by neo-Nazis or anti-Semites. But the "watchdogs" and their media allies had a carefully scripted story to tell, and they weren’t going to allow the facts to interfere.
Two days after Ashbrook’s murder spree, an advertisement by the Houston chapter of the AJC appeared in the Houston Chronicle. "Hatred is spreading — with fatal consequences," declared the AJC ad. "Action is necessary now. As a start, Congress must hold full-scale hearings on groups that preach hatred and glorify violence. Law enforcement must be empowered, within constitutional limits, to monitor and infiltrate hate groups that are poisoning America, threatening Jews, African-Americans and other minorities. How many more Americans have to die before our elected representatives make fighting hate groups a priority? What is the death threshold that will move Congress to finally have the courage to stare down the NRA and pass firm gun control laws?"
Of course, the AJC’s pre-positioned "solutions" didn’t comfortably fit the events of September 17th. Immediately after the church shooting, John Craig, co-author of the 1997 book Soldiers of God: White Supremacists and their Holy War for America, claimed that Ashbrook was a "Phineas Priest" — a terrorist committed to murdering Jews and non-whites. However, the Houston Chronicle reported on September 18th that FBI and police investigators who had examined Ashbrook’s home and personal journals "said the journals provided no clue to Ashbrook’s motives or to any involvement in a white supremacy movement...." Nor had Ashbrook previously caught the eye of "organizations that monitor extremist and hate group activity." In fact, Howard Bushart, who co-authored Soldiers of God with Craig, told the Chronicle not only that he had "no evidence of whether [Craig] interviewed this individual" but that he was puzzled by his colleague’s depiction of the shooter as a Phineas Priest.
While Ashbrook’s motivations remain elusive, it is quite clear that the AJC was less interested in the specific crime committed at the Wedgwood Baptist Church than it was in advancing the two-pronged campaign of gun confiscation and expanded political surveillance of "hate groups" by the federal government. This is why the AJC sought to shoehorn the Fort Worth shooting into the mold of previous shootings carried out by neo-Nazis Benajmin Smith and Buford Furrow.
Empowering the Feds
In an August 12th New York Times op-ed column, Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, cited the hideous crimes of Smith and Furrow to illustrate the supposed need for a more aggressive federal campaign against "hate groups." According to Foxman, "the time has come to recalibrate that balance [between public safety and civil liberties] — to permit law enforcement not only to get the man, but also to prevent the act. If law enforcement agencies should overstep the line, we should very swiftly take the authority away. But now is the time to give them that trust and that capability." It was Foxman’s misfortune to urge such trustworthiness just prior to the avalanche of new revelations regarding the FBI’s lethal abuse of power in Waco (see "Waco Deception Up in Smoke" in our September 27th issue).
In a Philadelphia Inquirer column published three days after Foxman’s essay saw print, Barry Morrison, the ADL’s regional director for eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware, recited the same arguments — with significant embellishments. "The time has come to re-think and re-examine the policies and practices that govern the ability of law-enforcement agencies to monitor hate groups," declared Morrison. "Present guidelines practically require a smoking gun — compelling evidence that a crime has been committed or is imminent — before an active investigation is undertaken. We need to review such policies and seek zealously to strike a careful balance between security needs and First Amendment protections."
On the same day (August 15th), Yale University law professor Ruth Wedgwood advanced the same set of proposals in an op-ed column published in the Washington Post. Wedgwood, a former federal prosecutor, is an adviser to the FBI and Justice Department on investigative guidelines. More importantly, she is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a group with considerably more influence over public policy than the ADL. Thus it is of some moment that Wedgwood’s recommendations for federal action against "hate groups" are even more radical than those prescribed by Foxman and his associates.
"Free speech and a largely unrestricted gun trade can be a heady combination for supremacist groups trawling the Internet for new recruits," writes Wedgwood. "We need to find a response that will not damage the traditional liberties of American society but will keep hate groups from using them as a shelter while they swagger and intimidate to win new converts. What can we do? One useful step would be for the FBI to expand its efforts to keep watch on hate groups and be in a better position to stop crimes before they happen." Wedgwood points out that "civil libertarians" (of the left-leaning variety, of course) had condemned the abuses the FBI had supposedly committed against "civil rights, antiwar and radical groups in the 1960s and ’70s." She continues, "A reaction against those abuses led the Justice Department to shut down many of its domestic security operations" and adopt the current guidelines, which mandate "an extremely cautious approach in opening new investigations." However, Wedgwood declares, the FBI has been in the penalty box long enough: "[N]ow that the FBI has had 20 years to rebuild its reputation for respecting civil liberties, we can seek a restored balance." Presented more candidly, Wedgwood’s argument is this: Now that the radicals of the 1960s are in power, and the subject of federal scrutiny would be the "radical right," the FBI can be trusted with the power to conduct domestic surveillance.
According to Wedgwood, the FBI’s "joint terrorist task forces," which "marry the FBI’s forensic talents and investigative reach with local police departments’ savvy about suspect groups or individuals in their jurisdictions," provide an initial framework for the expanded surveillance of "hate groups." Presently such task forces are operating in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, D.C. To define the pool of potential suspects, Wedgwood cites an estimate from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center that "there are 537 white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in the United States, and another 435 militia and posse groups." Once a target is chosen, the feds should not be shy about throwing their weight around, according to Wedgwood: "An extremist group that appears to be planning violence should not be shielded from FBI surveillance just because it sacrilegiously calls itself a church." Of course, the federal assault on the Branch Davidians — whose beliefs were aggressively ridiculed by FBI spokesmen and other federal officials during the 51-day stand-off — was justified after the fact as a pre-emptive strike against planned violent acts.
In order to determine whether a "decision to commit a crime has been made," Wedgwood suggests that the FBI learn from the Secret Service. "To deter real threats to the President’s life, Secret Service agents have long sought out and interviewed anyone who speaks of using violence against the President, even when the statement may have been uttered in jest or in a moment of anger. These interviews allow the agents to evaluate the threat at closer hand, and let them take precautions if the threat seems serious. Are we sure that threats against racial and religious groups cannot be equally serious?" Wedgwood’s proposal assumes that the FBI would have detailed, specific intelligence to act upon, and a mandate to "deter" those suspected of planning violent acts.
The appeal of Wedgwood’s proposal resides in the notion that a single visit from the FBI may have prevented Benjamin Smith’s killing spree, or stopped Buford Furrow from attempting to slaughter Jewish children at a day-care center. However, there is no reason to believe that the wrap-around surveillance and pre-emptive harassment envisioned by Wedgwood would be confined to murderous bigots and other genuine radicals without bringing law-abiding critics of unchecked government power within the compass of political scrutiny.
The groundwork for a system like that recommended by Wedgwood has been laid by left-wing "watchdog" organizations that are demanding that the FBI be given expanded powers of surveillance. Pending such a development, civil libertarian Laird Wilcox told The New American, such leftist groups are "operating as intelligence networks for the FBI and other law enforcement bodies, but their information is highly prejudiced by their political outlook. The danger inherent in this arrangement is that these groups compile lists of organizations and individuals for police intelligence divisions, and then the police are expected to use that information to keep tabs on such people, who may have done nothing more than express a political view the ‘watchdogs’ disagree with."
Wilcox, the founder of the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements at the University of Kansas, is considered by many academics to be one of the nation’s foremost experts on "fringe" political movements. A longtime member of the ACLU and veteran of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, Wilcox is nonetheless a forthright critic of professional anti-right activists. In his study The Watchdogs, Wilcox points out that "the watchdogs engage in ‘political profiling.’ Major watchdog groups, particularly the ADL, hold law enforcement conferences, seminars and training sessions on this ‘profiling’ behavior against their enemies and critics." For the most part, the "watchdogs" have "roots in the extreme Marxist left of the American political spectrum," observes Wilcox. While they offer ritual recognition of "freedom of expression and other constitutional guarantees," they advocate "formal censorship or government reprisals against their ideological opponents simply because of their values, opinions, and beliefs.... They appear to regard their opposition and critics as sub-human and not deserving the amenities ordinarily afforded to other human beings."
Kenneth Stern and the AJC
The American Jewish Committee (AJC), which describes its mission as that of battling anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, helped pioneer the dehumanization process described by Wilcox. In 1950 the AJC published a study supposedly documenting that conservative mainstream Americans display "fascistic" tendencies. Entitled The Authoritarian Personality, the study was compiled under the supervision of German Marxist Theodor Adorno, who was a prominent figure in the Institute for Social Research, a group organized by the Communist International in Frankfurt, Germany in 1933.
Political historian Paul Gottfried of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania notes that the AJC used the Adorno report as a weapon to "pathologize dissent by claiming that conservatives are either psychologically unfit or concealing bigoted motivations." According to legal activist Elliot Rothenberg, a former vice president of the AJC’s Minnesota chapter, the AJC’s leadership has "a very effective set of ideological blinders on.... The AJC, like the ADL, prefers to concentrate its fire on whatever conservative group happens to provoke its disfavor at any given time."
The AJC’s point man on the "radical right" is Kenneth S. Stern, who serves as "program specialist on anti-Semitism and extremism" for the organization. In 1996 Stern published A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate. Stern has been featured in newscasts, documentaries, and congressional hearings as an authority on the "mindset" of "right-wing extremists," and his book was heavily promoted by Calibre Press, a specialized on-line newsletter and catalog service catering to active-duty police officers. Stern’s 1994 book Loud Hawk, which chronicled the legal services he rendered as a young attorney on behalf of the Marxist/terrorist American Indian Movement (AIM), has gotten significantly less publicity. To date The New American is the only publication that has documented the fact that the AJC’s chief "counter-terrorism" specialist in the 1990s was an apologist for anti-government terrorism in the 1970s. (See "Flower Child Fascism: A Case Study," in our March 18, 1996 issue.)
"In 1975," wrote Stern in Loud Hawk, "I was zealous, thinking that the rightness of the cause justified nearly everything — good ends excusing almost any means.... In my youth I would have thought bombing property was almost romantic." During the time frame in which Stern "would play with" the law on behalf of AIM, "pull[ing] it apart, put[ting] it back together," the group was working with Soviet and Cuban intelligence agents, and collaborating with both domestic and international terrorist groups. Stern wrote: "This was the mid-1970s, when the ultra-left became the freaky left, when the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army and even part of AIM thought social change came through bombs."
Stern proudly recalled how he lent his services to such subversive groups as the George Jackson Brigade and the New World Liberation Front, and came to suspect that he was under FBI surveillance — which would be entirely appropriate, given his close collaboration with terrorists who were targeting police and innocent civilians for attack.
He also recalled how an AIM member who was involved in the 1975 murder of FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler justified the crime by comparing the G-men to Nazis. "Their death generated pride and maybe, in a way, even hope," wrote Stern, without expressing a syllable of criticism for either the crime or the calumny directed at the murdered law enforcement agents.
Stern’s case is noteworthy because it perfectly illustrates one of Laird Wilcox’s chief indictments of the activists who compose the left-wing "watchdog" groups. "Many of these people are doctrinaire Marxists and nihilists who come from the most destructive elements of the 1960s new left," Wilcox pointed out to The New American. "These were hateful people — self-hating, nation-hating, highly ideological radicals who gravitated toward the leadership ranks of these groups. And now through the ‘watchdog’ groups they’re working with the same law enforcement bodies they warred against in the 1960s and 1970s as part of their continuing effort to bring about a social revolution."
ADL Spy Network
One of the preferred tactics of revolutionaries is the use of agents provocateurs — planted operatives within opposition groups who commit crimes or perform other outrageous acts which are used to discredit such groups and, in some cases, to justify a crackdown by state authorities. As Wilcox documents in his book The Watchdogs, the ADL has excelled at the agent provocateur tactic.
"James Mitchell Rosenberg, a career infiltrator for the Anti-Defamation League, regularly attended and was a speaker at Ku Klux Klan rallies and meetings of the Mountain Church in Cohoctah, MI, considered a gathering place for neo-Nazis of all kinds," writes Wilcox. For the benefit of television reporters, Rosenberg also posed as a leader of a para-military group called the "Christian Patriot’s Defense League," which was the subject of a breathless exposé entitled "Armies of the Right." In 1981, Rosenberg and an associate were arrested on a New York City rooftop and charged with carrying an unregistered rifle. "The two were posing as paramilitary extremists for a photographic fabrication exaggerating the threat from the far right," explains Wilcox. "The charges were subsequently dropped at the request [of] the ADL’s Irwin Suall, Rosenberg’s direct supervisor."
In 1993, it was discovered that Roy Bullock, described by Wilcox as "a paid ADL operative and well-known figure in the San Francisco homosexual community," had been attempting to arrange a political marriage between the Institute for Historical Review, a holocaust revisionist organization, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (AADC) "so the ADL could ‘out’ [AADC] members as neo-Nazis." Bullock had also developed an illegal "intelligence sharing" relationship with Tom Gerard, an intelligence officer with the San Francisco Police Department. According to Wilcox, Gerard "regularly took information from police files for transmittal to the ADL and in some cases to Israeli intelligence agencies, with whom the ADL works closely."
After the ADL’s illicit relationship with the San Francisco Police Department became public knowledge, an investigation revealed that "Bullock and Gerard ‘clones’ were positioned in or close to police departments throughout the country," continues Wilcox. A source in the official investigation of the scandal told the April 1st San Francisco Examiner that "the ADL is doing the same thing all over the country. There is evidence that the ADL had police agents in other cities. The case just gets bigger every day. The more we look, the more people we find are involved."
ADL asset Tom Gerard escaped prosecution by fleeing to the Philippines; the ADL and its spy, Roy Bullock, avoided criminal prosecution when the organization offered a $75,000 "donation" — which could be viewed as a bribe — to a San Francisco area "hate crimes reward and education fund." (See "The ADL’s Campaign Against Tolerance" in our September 19, 1994 issue.) However, on November 17, 1998, the 1st District Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the ADL to surrender information it had illegally obtained through the Gerard/Bullock spy network, thus preparing the way for a civil lawsuit against the organization.
After the ADL spy scandal broke, Abraham Foxman took to the New York Times op-ed page to protest that the negative coverage of his organization was a "Big Lie" that had given anti-Semites cause to "rejoice." Laird Wilcox, whose liberal credentials are unimpeachable and whose opposition to anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry is beyond dispute, insists that the episode typifies the "espionage, disinformation and destabilization operations" regularly carried out by the ADL.
Backlash From Berlet
Ironically, the ADL spy scandal provoked outrage on the left when it was learned that the subjects of the ADL’s illegal surveillance included left-wing organizations and activists. In his New York Times column defending the ADL, Foxman denied charges that "in recent years the ADL has taken on a right-wing perspective...." To illustrate his organization’s leftist bona fides, Foxman pointed out that between 1980 and 1992, the ADL "published 63 reports … on the far right and 20 exposed the far left. Similarly, the ADL Law Enforcement Bulletin, published since 1988, contains 68 articles on the far right and seven on the left."
Among those who had accused the ADL of right-wing deviationism was Boston-based Marxist agitator John Foster "Chip" Berlet. While insisting that there was "nothing wrong" with the ADL "maintain[ing] an information-sharing arrangement with law enforcement," Berlet condemned the group for its supposed lack of zeal in crusading against the right wing. In a May 28, 1993 New York Times column (run as a counter-point to Foxman’s column) co-authored with former ADL freelancer Dennis King (who was himself a 10-year veteran of the Stalinist Progressive Labor Party), Berlet accused the ADL of down-playing the right-wing "threat" and focusing instead on left-wing groups "backed by the Soviet Union."
From Berlet’s perspective, it is apparently appropriate to conduct political surveillance through illegal means, as long as such surveillance advances the agenda of the radical left. Six years before explicitly endorsing the ADL’s supposed right to "monitor bigots" in collaboration with police agencies, Berlet published a column in Overthrow, an organ of the militant, far-left Youth International Party (Abbie Hoffman’s "Yippies"), entitled "Secret Police Political Spying Network Revealed." Berlet’s column condemned the domestic counter-terrorism policies of local police agencies in Chicago, Texas, Indianapolis, and Detroit. Berlet, a member of the notorious National Lawyers Guild (cited as a Communist Party front by a committee of Congress), was also opposed to grand jury investigations of left-wing militant groups. In 1984, observes Laird Wilcox, Berlet signed an open letter to Judge Charles Sifton entitled "Political Grand Juries Must Be Stopped!" The letter protested that grand juries were being used to investigate left-wing revolutionaries who "supported mass struggle against the military … development of an armed clandestine movement [and a] broad struggle against repression."
Berlet was also a signatory — alongside convicted terrorists David Gilbert, Kathy Boudin, and Judith Clark, who were serving prison sentences for the murder of a Brinks armored truck guard in 1981 — to an open letter published in the July 11, 1984 issue of the Marxist-Leninist Guardian. Describing themselves as "grand jury resisters, people who have been targets of grand jury investigations, and people who have consistently fought for non-collaboration with the grand jury," the signatories urged readers "to join us in refusing to collaborate with the grand jury or the FBI" and help build "a powerful resistance movement" in alliance with "national liberation struggles and progressive movements" worldwide. So deeply committed was Berlet to "progressive" movements that he was a founding member of the Chicago Area Friends of Albania (CAFA), an organization created in 1983 by self-described friends and supporters of the "People’s Socialist Republic of Albania," which at the time was arguably the world’s most monolithic Stalinist dictatorship.
Despite — or, perhaps, because of — the fact that Berlet is a creature of the farthest fringes of the far left, his "expert" opinions regarding "right-wing extremism" are consistently solicited by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and other establishment media organs. Berlet was among the "experts" quoted by the New York Times in an August 16th story describing the "disparate assortment of violent right-wing groups and individuals scattered across the country" as the chief domestic terrorism threat. The story referred to Berlet as "president of Political Research Associates [PRA], a company based in Somerville, Mass., that tracks extremist groups." The Times neglected to mention that, as Laird Wilcox points out, Berlet, by whatever title he is known, "is, in fact, the only analyst in [PRA’s] three-person office." Chip Berlet’s chief associate at PRA is veteran radical Jean Hardisty, who, Wilcox observes, "holds the distinction of having been inducted into the ‘Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame’ in October 1995."
Berlet is also prominently and repeatedly cited as an "expert" source in The Militia Threat: Terrorists Among Us, a study recently published by Captain Robert L. Snow of the Indianapolis Police Department — one of the police agencies whose counter-terrorism section was specifically condemned by Berlet in his 1987 Overthrow article. One may reasonably wonder if Captain Snow was aware that in writing a book intended to guide the perceptions of fellow police officers he was drawing upon the tainted expertise of a Marxist militant and longtime police critic.
Dangers of "Political Profiling"
The Connecticut gun-seizure law and the accelerating drive for pre-emptive federal action against "hate groups" suggest that "political profiling" of the sort conducted by the AJC, ADL, Chip Berlet, and other "watchdogs" will become a civil liberties issue. With law enforcement agencies depending upon committed leftists and unreconstructed revolutionaries for intelligence on domestic enemies, the anti-"extremist" dragnet would gather from many kinds — including patriotic, law-abiding Americans whose sole "offense" would be a commitment to the U.S. Constitution and national independence.
Lest this prediction be dismissed as hyperbole, it is useful to describe once again the case of John J. Nutter of the Ohio-based Conflict Analysis Group, an "expert" on "right-wing extremism" who has taught seminars for law enforcement officers in several states. (See "No Enemies to the Left" in our May 13, 1996 issue.) Nutter (borrowing a theme originally found in the AJC’s Authoritarian Personality study) describes "right-wing extremism" as a "lightning rod for the mentally disturbed" and says that it threatens "assassination, mass murder, and armed uprising."
Nutter lists as "danger signs" of potentially lethal "extremism" such things as possession of "extremist literature" (he specifically cites The New American), the display of "firearms lapel pins, bumper stickers or window decals about the New World Order, Clinton Communism, ‘I fear the government that fears my gun,’" and the like. Police are also advised to be wary of citizens who display "excessive concern" over the federal government’s massacre of the Branch Davidians, the murderous federal assault upon the Randy Weaver family in Idaho, or similar abuses of power. Of particular concern, insists Nutter, are "strong proponents of the Second Amendment" who believe in the "right of individuals to possess ‘arms’" and are "fearful of any limitations on weaponry."
Nor is Nutter the only "expert" advising police officers regarding such "danger signs." In his book Freedom in Chains, scholar James Bovard reports: "At a 1997 American Society of Criminology conference one professor argued that among signs of ‘hate group ideology’ were ‘discussion of the Bill of Rights, especially the Second Amendment or the Federalist Papers,’ ‘discussion of military oppression, in the U.S. or elsewhere,’ and ‘discussion of the Framers of our Government.’" From that academic "expert’s" perspective, all one needs to do to qualify as a potential "hate criminal" is to profess a love for our Constitution.
Kay Stone and Jean Vallance of Alamogordo, New Mexico, discovered that these expansive definitions are being taken seriously by some law enforcement officers. As The New American has previously reported (see "Mark Them as ‘Extremists’" in our November 23, 1998 issue), Mrs. Stone and Mrs. Vallance, both of whom are retired grandmothers, found themselves under scrutiny by the New Mexico State Police after they had participated in talk-radio discussions of the United Nations on a local call-in program. The scrutiny of the two retired grandmothers followed the publication of a report entitled The Extremist Right: An Overview, which was compiled by the Criminal Intelligence Section of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS).
That report, which was larded with citations from the familiar pack of left-wing "watchdogs," described the "radical right" as "a continuum from those who disagree with government but operate within the law to those who work at nothing less than the overthrow of government. These groups call themselves ‘Patriots.’" The roster of potential terrorists described in the DPS document included Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and other practitioners of violence, as well as "militant abortion foes [and] radical anti-environmentalists," and others who espouse political "conspiracy theories." The anti-"extremist" dragnet cast by the DPS must have been incredibly vast and tightly knit in order to snag two retired grandmothers — one of whom, Mrs. Vallance, is married to an employee at Holloman Air Force Base — as potential terrorists on the basis of remarks made on a radio call-in program.
Alluding to this incident in New Mexico, Laird Wilcox noted, "The real danger posed by these ‘watchdog’ groups is that their intelligence is taken seriously by police officers, who don’t have the time or resources to examine that information carefully. Being a policeman is a dangerous job, and when a policeman is told by a supposedly authoritative source that a given individual belongs to a potentially violent group, he has to take such warnings seriously." As a result, Wilcox continued, "routine traffic stops can become ‘incidents’ that are good for neither the police nor the average citizen. Let’s say that a guy gets stopped for speeding and when his name is run through the computer he’s been red-flagged as a ‘dangerous’ person on the basis of information fed to the police by some left-wing radical posing as a ‘watchdog.’ So instead of merely asking the driver for his license and other information, the officer now approaches the car in a defensive posture, ready to draw his gun — not because of anything the driver did, but because he somehow ended up on a list compiled by some self-appointed left-wing ‘watchdog’ group."
The problem described by Wilcox becomes even graver when it is understood that in the near future, police and federal authorities may be using "watchdog"-compiled lists to decide who is, and who is not, entitled to enjoy the protections offered by the Bill of Rights.