There are, in increasingly frightening numbers, cells of angry men in the United States preparing for combat with the U.S. government. They are usually heavily armed, blinded by an intractable hatred, often motivated by religious zeal.
They're not jihadists. They are white, right-wing Americans, nearly all with an obsessive attachment to guns, who may represent a greater danger to the lives of American civilians than international terrorists.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking hate groups for 30 years, released its latest report on the growth of these organizations this week. Its findings were, to say the least, alarming. The center divides its subjects into militias, which are mostly groups of weekend warriors who train for combat against imaginary foes; hate groups, which target minorities; and "patriot" groups, whose beef is with the U.S. government. Patriot groups first began surfacing after the massacre of a bizarre sect by federal agents in Waco, Texas, in the early 1990s. They showed their teeth in 1995, when a patriot adherent blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter earlier this week to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging the government to establish a task force to investigate the supposed domestic terror threat posed by the likes of Alex Jones, We Are Change, Oath Keepers, the Constitution Party, the Tyranny Response Team and thousands of other Americans outside of the orbit of the establishment.
The letter sent by the president and CEO of the SPLC, J. Richard Cohen, begins by reminding Holder and Napolitano that the organization “wrote Attorney General Janet Reno about the growing threat of domestic terrorism” prior to the Oklahoma City bombing in October, 1994.
“Today, we write to express similar concerns. In the last four years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, antigovernment groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots.” Today’s “ominous threats,” Cohen warns, come from citizens concerned about federal government attacks on the Second Amendment. “Because of the looming dangers, we urge you to establish an interagency task force to assess the adequacy of the resources devoted to responding to the growing threat of non-Islamic domestic terrorism.”