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The Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point released a study Tuesday warning against American “far right” groups including the “anti-federalist” movement and strong limited government activists.
The report, titled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” posits that in recent years, and especially since 2007, “there has been a dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self-identify with the far-right of American politics.”
The analysis, conducted by West Point professor and CTC director of terrorism studies Arie Perliger, noted that his study “concentrates on those individuals and groups who have actually perpetuated violence and is not a comprehensive analysis of the political causes with which some far-right extremists identify.” He added that an in-depth look at the data provided addresses three crucial questions:
(1) What are the main current characteristics of the violence produced by the far right?
(2) What type of far-right groups are more prone than others to engage in violence? How are characteristics of particular far-right groups correlated with their tendency to engage in violence?
(3) What are the social and political factors associated with the level of far-right violence? Are there political or social conditions that foster or discourage violence?
The West Point professor said 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.”
Perliger also identified limited government activists as belonging to one of three categories: “a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.”
According to the Washington Times, the report also draws correlation between mainstream conservatism and what it dubs the violent “far right.” The study then goes on to laud liberals as forward-thinking while maintaining that conservatives harbor a more archaic mindset.
“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 states.
“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.”
Citing a reported 350 “attacks initiated by far-right groups/individuals” in 2011, the analysis characterizes the liberal-democratic system as inclusive and “designed to emphasize civil rights” while far-right ideology inherently “excludes” minorities.
Perlinger’s study, however, has not gone without meeting a degree of criticism. Speaking to the Times, a Republican congressional staffer slammed: “If [the Defense Department] is looking for places to cut spending, this junk study is ground zero.”
He added that the Combating Terrorism Center should be focused on radical Islam and, at the least, publish a companion report underlying the dangers of left-wing terror groups like “the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground.”
The CTC describes itself as “one of the leading academic institutions devoted to the study of terrorism” whose research is informed by three core components including” studying emerging threats, challenging conventional logic and offering counter intuitive insights.”