Jonah Goldberg

The Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report last week. It's called "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."

I had no idea there even was an ERBHETAD of the DHS working on the RECEPCFRRR.

Who among us doesn't feel safer already?

The problem with it is that it makes little effort to document or demonstrate its contention that "extremist" groups are resurgent, that they are right-wing, or that they may be formed from the ranks of "disgruntled military veterans." Worse, it's very sloppy about what qualifies someone as "extremist" in the first place. Basically, it's fancy bureaucratese for: We're guessing bad people will do bad things because the economy is bad and the president is black. But we have no real evidence.

For instance, the report insists that returning "disgruntled military veterans" from Iraq and Afghanistan are recruitment fodder for extremist and terrorist groups.

But, if you follow the footnotes, as John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog did, you'll discover that, according to the FBI, only 19 Iraq and Afghanistan war vets have joined the "extremist movement" (and some of them may have lied about their service). More than half of America's 1.4 million active-duty military personal have served in Iraq or Afghanistan (and there are roughly 23 million veterans in the United States). Any way you slice it, 19 yahoos amount to statistical noise so faint you would need one of those UFO-hunting dishes to pick it up.

My objection to the DHS report -- and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's thumbless grasp of why the report bothers people -- isn't that the agency is concerned with domestic terrorists. It should be, even though it wrankles a bit that this administration is so squeamish to describe Islamic terrorists as "terrorists" but is promiscuous with the T-word when it comes to right-wing Americans.

The evidence that al-Qaida & Co. are terrorists is widely available, but Napolitano boasts that she calls attacks such as those on 9/11 "man-caused disasters." She says she doesn't want to fuel "the politics of fear." But her own department dubs nebulous and ill-defined Americans as terrorists even though DHS has "no specific information" that they're plotting any attacks.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.