The lead National section story by Jennifer Steinhauer in Saturday’s New York Times took a magnifying glass to the right-wing militia movement, trying to tie veterans to white supremacy and white supremacy to President Trump: “Veterans Fortify the Ranks of Militias That Align With Trump’s Views.”
Meanwhile, the Times describes Antifa as too loosely organized to be a problem (yet they’re also bravely fighting against “police militarization and a punishing criminal justice system” in the streets, and never mind all the looting).
Emboldened by President Trump’s campaign platform of law and order, militia groups have bolstered their strength before Election Day by attracting military veterans who bring weapons and tactical skills viewed as important to the organizations.
The role of veterans in the newly proliferating militia groups — which sometimes are steeped in racism and other times steeped simply in antigovernment zealotry — has increased over the last decade, said a dozen experts on law enforcement, domestic terrorism and extremist groups.
While militias and other paramilitary groups have been historically hostile toward the federal government regardless of the party in power, many have turned their animus in recent months toward Black Lives Matter activists as well as local leaders who enforced restrictions to combat the coronavirus. A notable example was in Michigan, where protesters, some armed, stormed the statehouse this spring in opposition to pandemic rules. Some have begun adopting the language Mr. Trump uses to preemptively cast doubt on the outcome of an election.
Does anyone remember violence or property destruction in Lansing? “Stormed the statehouse” is at best a hyperbolic description of what actually happened at the Michigan statehouse, especially compared to how the Times reliably downplays the actual storming of police stations and similar actions by anarchist street rioters. Steinhauer then reminded readers of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh — aha, a veteran! — and then it was on to the Obama years:
But beginning in 2009, antagonism toward the presidency of Barack Obama, combined with a new crop of post-Sept. 11 veterans, fueled exponential [?] growth in militia groups.
While the military strictly forbids its active-duty personnel from participating in hate groups, it is silent on militias and the role of veterans who have left service.
In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security released an intelligence assessment warning that returning veterans who faced trouble reintegrating could “lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
The report led to such an outcry from conservatives and one prominent veterans organization that the department deep-sixed it. “We used the term ‘disgruntled’ so that terminology was insensitive,” said Mr. Johnson, who helped prepare the report. “We were trying to show they were susceptible to recruitment because of skills they learned. That is a glaring truth no matter who is offended.”
Steinhauer skipped how that Obama Administration report despicably declared that opposition to abortion or immigration” made one a right-wing extremist and terrorist threat.
She then did her own smear of the limited-government Tea Party movement, a perennial Times villain.
That same year, the F.B.I. did its own investigation of extremist groups with a focus on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Obama years were a growth period for these groups, many of them loosely tied to the Tea Party movement. Most notable was the Oath Keepers, formed in 2009 with a core notion that its members should continue to honor the oaths they took in the military and law enforcement agencies to defend the country, via their efforts in a militia.
Late in the piece, Steinhauer admits that some veterans become violent leftists, but that’s different!
A small number of veterans have joined ranks with left-leaning groups or groups not associated with the political right. A sniper who shot a dozen Dallas police officers in 2016, killing five, was an Army veteran.
The man law enforcement officials believe shot and killed a right-wing activist in Portland, Ore., last month was an antifa supporter and a veteran; he was killed last week by the police. But veterans with far-left views are small in number and tend to act outside any organized force — the antifa movement, for example, lacks the structure and leadership of a militia — according to experts in the field.