Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Michelle Malkin haunted by her lack of principles

A Department of Homeland Security report has surfaced that profiles the rise in extremist right-wing activity. I read the report. There's nothing in the report that isn't accurate. Yet Michelle Malkin and the rest of the "right-wing" blogs are working themselves into a furor, believing that this report targets mainstream movement conservatives.

The report does no such thing. Malkin's issue seems to be that because some of the things that motivate extremists are the same things that motivate her, obviously the report is targeting her. Which isn't the case, but it's worth noting how the distinction between the mainstream and extremist right is blurred by individuals such as Malkin, who has her columns featured at VDARE, or Jerome Corsi who on one day is on Fox News and on another is at white supremacist radio. That blurring is partly why Malkin and the rest have assumed that a report profiling violent right-wing extremists is about them; the other reason being their general paranoia and never-ending sense of persecution and victimization.

But setting aside Malkin's paranoia, let's recall something I wrote after protesters in St. Paul were targeted for para-military raids.

While conservative movement figures are busy being reminded of Hitler and Nazis by Barack Obama and the ominous figure of Dennis Kucinich, police and the FBI have been targeting leftist groups that are planning or may be planning to protest the Republican National Convention in St. Paul for armed police raids and detentions.

But heck, these folks must have deserved it right? They must have ... why else would they be targeted? That's what Lady of Liberty (and concentration camps) Michelle Malkin thinks when the government spies on peaceful leftist groups - that if any "leftist" does something wrong then every "leftist" can justifiably be made the target of surveillance. Of course, if an Obama administration were to start targeting Michelle Malkin for surveillance because of her opposition to abortion on the grounds that some abortion opponents bomb family planning clinics she'd understand, I'm sure. Principles are what Malkin and friends are about, after all.
As we can see, the mere act of describing right-wing extremists who have some overlapping beliefs with Malkin and friends has sent them off into hysterics. But by Malkin's own standards, she has no room to complain if the government were to engage in warrantless surveillance of her.

Glenn Greenwald has a great run down of the irony of folks who for years now have defended and advocated for seemingly limitless expansion of the national security state now all of a sudden having a problem with it. The post is aptly titled "The ultimate reaping of what one sows." I'll quote just this passage as it relates to my previous post that I just quoted, but recommend reading the whole thing:

It's certainly true that federal police efforts directed at domestic political movements -- even ones with a history of inspiring violence in both the distant and recent past -- require real vigilance and oversight, and it's also true that the DHS description of these groups seems excessively broad with the potential for mischief. But the political faction screeching about the dangers of the DHS is the same one that spent the last eight years vastly expanding the domestic Surveillance State and federal police powers in every area. DHS -- and the still-creepy phrase "homeland security" -- became George Bush's calling card. The Republicans won the 2002 election by demonizing those who opposed its creation. All of the enabling legislation underlying this Surveillance State -- from the Patriot Act to the Military Commissions Act, from the various FISA "reforms" to massive increases in domestic "counter-Terrorism" programs -- are the spawns of the very right-wing movement that today is petrified that this is all being directed at them.

When you cheer on a Surveillance State, you have no grounds to complain when it turns its eyes on you. If you create a massive and wildly empowered domestic surveillance apparatus, it's going to monitor and investigate domestic political activity. That's its nature. I'd love to know how many of the participants in today's right-wing self-victim orgy uttered a peep of protest about any of this, from 2005:

F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.
Greenwald got the question wrong. He should have asked instead which participants of the victim orgy didn't defend those actions. I know Michelle Malkin didn't not defend them, because I still vividly recall my initial and immediate disgust upon reading this article (which is the one I linked to when saying that Malkin believes any "leftist" wrongdoing justifies making every "leftist" the subject of surveillance.)

Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Civil liberties activists, anti-war organizers, eco-militants, and animal rights operatives are in a fright over news that the nefarious FBI is watching them. Why on earth would the government be worried about harmless liberal grannies, innocent vegetarians, unassuming rainforest lovers and other "peaceful groups" simply exercising their First Amendment rights?

Let me remind you of some very good reasons.

[Malkin lists her "reasons" which have nothing to do with the actual surveillance targets, but are meant to demonstrate "the left" are dangerous subversives.]

The FBI's job is to take threats to our domestic security seriously and act on them before catastrophe strikes. Given the suspect words and actions of left-wing groups over the last several years, "dissent is patriotic" is a bromide no responsible agent can swallow blindly. Tolerating the unfettered free speech of saboteurs has threatened enough lives already.
Like I said, by her own standards Malkin has no reason to complain. You could just substitute in rightist groups and then list Timothy McVeigh, abortion clinic bombers and all the non-stop talk about staging a revolution (confined not to marginalized figures and organizations like the ones Malkin listed but promoted on network television by Fox News) in the middle section and you'd have a case for spying on Malkin.

I'm really struggling to put into words how absurdly hypocritical this all is. It's difficult to believe the person who wrote that in '05 is the same person throwing the hissy fit today. It's like she's engaging in some deep cover Sokal hoax to demonstrate movement conservatives have no principles or something.

Of course, unlike Malkin, myself and many other critics of the national surveillance state don't have the same dripping contempt for the rights of others that Malkin has and would protest just as vigorously encroachment on her liberties as we protested the encroachments of others' during the Bush years.*

But I'm really stating a pleonasm. As Tom Paine explains, there is no such thing as "rights of others" - there are just rights: "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

*Mathew Yglesias, for example, expressed a similar sentiment. He found the purpose of the report reasonable, but

At the same time, I think it’d be great if some non-insane conservatives were to be a bit bothered by this. Legitimate concerns about security really can serve as a cover for abuses or misconduct. This was the problem with the surveillance organized by the Bush administration, and it’s a very real problem even with Barack Obama in the White House. As long as Bush was president, folks on the right seemed curiously blasé about this whole thing.

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