By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 15, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A report summary issued by the Department of Homeland Security to local law enforcement officials across the country targets abortion opposition, among other normative conservative viewpoints, as symptomatic of a potentially violent “rightwing extremism.”
(To view the full document: https://220.127.116.11.nyud.net/leak/us-dhs-right-wing-extremism-2009.pdf)
The nine-page document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” includes a footnote explaining that the term “rightwing extremism” in the U.S. “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” as well as groups that reject “federal authority in favor of state or local authority.”
The document also warns that “rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool,” and as such are “antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues.”
The document claims that such groups have “exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members,” including “white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage.”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, prior to joining the Obama administration, was known to both sides of the abortion debate as an extreme abortion supporter. As Arizona’s governor, Napolitano had vetoed several anti-abortion bills, including a partial birth abortion ban and a bill protecting pharmacists’ conscience rights.
Numerous conservative and pro-life voices across the country expressed outrage at the federal document’s assertions.
“Even though we were kind of concerned that this might happen, I would say this report was still pretty shocking,” Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women of America (CWA), told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) today.
Wright said the document was “deja vu” of the Clinton-era taskforce known as VAAPCON – Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy – which had targeted pro-life groups as potential domestic terrorists. VAAPCON investigated groups including CWA, the Christian Coalition, the National Right to Life Committee, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and even the late Catholic Cardinal John O’Connor of New York.
Wright wrote a letter to U.S. senators late last month to voice concern that a repeat of the VAAPCON affair could result from the return of several former Clinton administration officials in the Obama administration.
“It’s disturbing that the writers of the report consider people who want to protect innocent life from violent deaths as potential terrorists,” said Wright. “It shows a dangerous bias and incompetence from people who are tasked with keeping our country safe and free.
“They clearly did not do a professional job because they failed to learn who we are and what motivates us,” she continued. “Instead they projected and exposed their irrational prejudices. If pro-lifers are blindly labeled a ‘suspect group’ then DHS may be setting the stage for more serious actions against us.”
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), objected to the document, saying, “The pro-life movement is the largest, most peaceful movement in the history of the United States.”
“To group tens of millions of loving pro-life activists with a handful of hateful neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, as the report does, libels a large segment of the American population,” said Mosher. “It is deeply troubling that the government agency in charge of our nation’s domestic security would resort to such guilt-by-association tactics.”
Mosher also challenged the conflation of the pro-life movement with white supremacism. “Pro-lifers categorically reject this thinly veiled charge of racism,” Mosher said. “In fact, the pro-life movement has long been particularly concerned with the high rate of abortion among black women, and has sought to reduce it by providing alternatives to abortion, including privately supported homes for unwed mothers.”
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the conservative constitutional law group American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), says the ACLJ is preparing a legal analysis and will be launching a nationwide campaign in the days ahead to demand that the DHS remove the reference from its warning.
“This is an outrageous characterization that raises serious questions about the leadership and direction of the agency charged with protecting Americans in the ongoing battle against terrorism,” said Sekulow.
“This characterization is not only offensive to millions of Americans who hold constitutionally-protected views opposing abortion – but also raises serious concerns about the political agenda of an agency with a mandate to protect America.”