Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized to veterans after a report issued by her department said troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were at risk for being recruited by right-wing extremists.This is another example of the corrupting influence of reality-detached ranting. The DHS report did not slander veterans, it did not call them extremists, nor did it suggest that returning veterans should be the targets of surveillance. It said that "right-wing extremists" seek to recruit and radicalize veterans to take advantage of their combat skills. There is nothing controversial about the notion that military veterans returning from a war are susceptible to being recruited into extremist groups (Timothy McVeigh, anyone?)
"To the extent veterans read it as an accusation ... an apology is owed," she said during an on-air interview on FOX News Thursday, a day after veterans' groups and members of Congress blasted her for the report, which they said libeled members of the armed forces.
Historically, disenchanted returning veterans feeling that they've been "stabbed in the back" are among the first groups that fascists recruited from. For example, the authoritative scholar of fascism Robert Paxton observed in The Anatomy of Fascism that he
half expected to see emerge after 1968 a movement of national reunification, regeneration, and purification directed against hirsute antiwar protesters, black radicals, and "degenerate" artists. I thought that some of the Vietnam veterans might form analogs to the Freikorps of 1919 Germany or the Italian Arditi, and attack the youths whose demonstrations on the steps of the Pentagon had "stabbed them in the back." Fortunately I was wrong (so far). Since September 11, 2001, however, civil liberties have been curtailed to popular acclaim in a patriotic war upon terrorists.Is this an attack on veterans, is it demonizing them as extremists? No. It's recognizing a historical reality about how some veterans enter into radicalized extremist politics. Understanding the factors that contribute to such radicalization help us consider how we might seek to prevent it from happening in the first place. But the reality-detached lobby of the Drudge-Hannity-Limbaugh-Fox axis of misinformation seeks to cut us off from that reality, leaving us less capable of understanding and thus confronting the world we live in.
And here we see the same sort of problem denying/problem exacerbating dynamic. Movement conservatives work themselves into a fit of indignation over the suggestion that extremists seek to radicalize returning vets, demanding (and getting) an apology from Napolitano; meanwhile they are busy telling returning vets that they've been stabbed in the back by Democrats who cut their funding, which is itself another reality-detached claim. Indeed, these same individuals so outraged that anyone would dare suggest that the "stabbed in the back" mythos might be used to recruit veterans are part of a movement which has relentlessy pushed a "stabbed in the back" meme. It must. Given that reality does not factor into the movement's considerations, blame must be found for any failures - real or perceived.
And if we are so unfortunate to have another McVeigh style incident, these same individuals will be outraged at the notion that their rhetoric had anything to do with it, even though persons like Malkin have expressed their respect and admiration for Ann Coulter, someone who has written multiple books accusing Democrats of being anti-American traitors, and suggesting that the only thing wrong with Timothy McVeigh's act of domestic terrorism was that he did not target the New York Times building.
Blogger's Note - I had planned on completing my Tea Party/historical revision post today, but keeping up with this and Savage has set me back a day.