A West Point think tank report that links people who believe in individual freedom with violent “far right” movements has stirred strong opposition from conservatives and former members of the military.
They say the report, first revealed by The Washington Times, lumps basic beliefs of mainstream conservatism into an “anti-federalist” movement that in the author’s view directs violence toward the government.
They wonder why an institution that molds future Army officers to fight foreign enemies now is focusing on a perceived domestic threat. They also say that a thorough report on ideologically fed violence would scrutinize unions, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and radical environmentalists.
The West Point report also disparages conservatives in general, saying they live in the past while liberals are future-oriented.
“This report is outrageous in and of itself,” said a Washington Times reader, one of more than 1,600 to post a comment. “But it speaks of a far worse scenario at the hallowed West Point; the rise of liberalism within the faculty there and their desire to shape the next generation of warrior/patriots into left-of-center thinkers. Sad and troubling. Our country is in trouble on so many fronts now.”
The report, titled “Challengers From the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right,” was posted last week by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, N.Y. It was written by Arie Perliger, who directs the center’s terrorism studies and teaches sociology to cadets.
The report states that there were 350 acts of violence against people or property by the “far right” in 2011. It does not break down the attacks to show who the victims/perpetrators were.
The 148-page report says anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.”
Commented a reader: “West Point Terror Center’s Most Wanted List: Thomas Jefferson John Adams George Washington James Madison Ronald Reagan John Jay Sam Adams.”
In the view of conservatives, the West Point report reinforces what they consider a false stereotype promoted by liberals.
“While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive-oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo,” the report says. “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”
A woman who described herself as a Navy member and married to an active-duty sailor wrote: “This absolutely breaks my heart that my government feels this way about me. I really truly believe that people should be able to choose what is best for themselves, provided they are not hurting anybody. I served in the Navy, my husband is still in the Navy. We love our country.”
Another comment: “The only politically motivated attacks I can recall since 2007 are: (1) Major Nidal Hasan shooting up Ft. Hood while screaming Ala Akbar, and (2) Floyd Corkins shooting the security guard at the Family Research Center in DC with 15 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in his knapsack. My President said the first was work place related violence not terrorism. My President said nothing [about the other incident].”
Another reader said: “This is a disgusting attempt to pervert the purpose of West Point from producing professional officers capable of leading our men and women in battle to producing politically correct yes-men who will support anti-freedom acts by the dictator-in-chief.”
The left has applauded the West Point paper.
The Atlantic placed an Internet post on the report, illustrated by a “skinhead” holding the American flag and giving a Nazi salute.
“In short, this report makes a convincing case about extremists trying to inflict harm upon innocent Americans, and it’s full of alarming data and clear policy recommendations,” the article says.