Peaceful Dissent and Government Witch Hunts

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As most readers of this are probably aware, the Campaign for Liberty has been singled out, along with a few other political groups, in a leaked Missouri state government report, "The Modern Militia Movement." The document tells state officials to be on the lookout for violent extremists while conflating them with pretty much anyone who criticizes the government. Perhaps most troubling, the information apparently comes from the Department of Homeland Security, meaning that similar documents could be circulating in states other than Missouri.

The brush with which this report paints critics of the federal government is so absurdly broad that it should not have to be taken seriously. The report lumps together violent white supremacists with the diverse and broad coalition behind Ron Paul, a man who has called racism "simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans only as members of groups and never as individuals." People who favor peace and cooperation among nations are thrown together with belligerent nationalists. Militants who saw George W. Bush as their savior and loved the war on terror are associated with those of us who saw Bush’s reign as a long period of attacks on social peace, international harmony and freedom. We who criticize the Federal Reserve, fiat money, and inflation — many of whom were inspired by great Jewish economists like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard — are conflated with peddlers of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Promoters of social harmony and cooperation are branded as antisocial promoters of conflict. The wide net cast catches both domestic terrorists and anyone who happens to favor constitutional government, oppose international bureaucracies, question the IRS, CIA, FBI or United Nations, subscribe to libertarian politics or oppose the military draft.

This should all be too ridiculous to address, but police carrying out nationally directed profiling have not been known to be the most nuanced in their investigations. So there is some legitimate concern for freedom activists of all stripes.

The report’s categorization of so many different types of people as potential threats to domestic peace takes on a distinct flavor in these Obama years, targeting tens of millions of conservative-leaning Americans who wish to peacefully live their lives in freedom — people who take their Second Amendment rights seriously, people who oppose the staggering growth of government in modern times, people who do not fit into a politically correct mold of good citizenship. It is thus a dangerous report, but it is not anything qualitatively new in the history of the American Republic. Sometimes the fear-mongering was simply stupid and counterproductive; but many times it meant severe attacks on the civil liberties of peaceful Americans.

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Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a research analyst at the Independent Institute and editor-in-chief of the Campaign for Liberty. He lives in Berkeley, California. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.

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