The reason it’s unlikely a tea-party, patriot or right-wing group perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing is because the victims weren’t “black people or Jewish people or gay people or Muslims,” claimed a senior fellow of the Southern Poverty Law Center earlier this week.
The SPLC – a left-wing, nonprofit organization that describes itself as dedicated to fighting “bigotry” and monitoring domestic “hate groups” – keeps an eagle eye on tea-party, patriot, Christian, gun-rights and right-wing organizations, often insisting their fires are fueled by racism and hatred, rather than politics or policy.
SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok continued the narrative in an interview on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” earlier this week, when the host asked Potok if the Boston bomber was more likely to be a lone wolf or part of an existing group.
“It’s more likely to be a lone wolf, these kinds of things, at least in the radical right. The non-Islamic radical right, they don’t tend to be carried out in groups at all,” Potok replied. “It may be, in fact, a home grown radical, but perhaps of the jihadist sort. And the reason I think about that in that way is think about who the targets were. You know, this was not a target that one would associate with a radical right-wing bomber. It was not a government building, it was not the IRS, although it was Tax Day on Monday. It was not a minority group. It wasn’t black people or Jewish people or gay people or Muslims.”
The SPLC paints its listing of official “hate groups” with a broad brush, often lumping in politically or socially conservative organizations with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. For example, the SPLC lists among it’s official “hate groups” the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Traditional Values Coalition.
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The SPLC further sounds warnings over tea-party and “patriot groups” who oppose a growing federal government or gun-control legislation, often linking libertarian or conservative political positions to racist “hate” activity.
In a recent edition of the SPLC’s “Hatewatch” blog, for example, the Tea Party Nation was among various “extremists” blasted for blaming the Boston bombing on jihadi terror.
“Linking Islam with Ronald Reagan’s ‘evil empire’ of communism, the [Tea Party Nation] warned that the Boston bombings are just another event presaging future violence in ‘an ideological war’ that can only be won if we have tougher, more anti-Islam U.S. political leaders,” the SPLC explained. “That, of course, would be the Tea Party cabal.”
The current suspects being pursued for the bombing, however, have been identified as Islamic sympathizers, in part because of social media posts where one of the suspects listed his “worldview” as “Islam.”
Yet the SPLC insists the real reason for the rise in patriot groups in recent years has little to do with militant Islam or President Obama’s policies – insisting instead, it’s mostly about race.
“The changing demographics have upset many people, and the country is having a hard time coming to terms with it,” SPLC President Richard Cohen told Connecticut’s The Register Citizen in an interview shortly before the bombing. “Obama symbolizes that change to so many people. We have this Kenyan-born, secret Muslim running the country – that is how the country sees it.”
Cohen added that after the Newtown massacre, in which Adam Lanza gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators, the addition of gun-rights advocates into the mix only makes the potential for domestic terrorism more volatile.
“The 1,300 hate groups we counted were before Newtown,” Cohen said, “and before proposals to reinstitute the ban on assault rifles and to require background checks. We are in a really incendiary situation now. A mixture of those who hate and those with guns is a disaster.”
The SPLC, in fact, wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in March advising them of the growing threat of “patriot” groups.
“In the last four years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, anti-government groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots,” the SPLC wrote. “As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now also are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns. 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.”
“It’s absolutely disturbing,” Cohen told The Register Citizen. “The Department of Homeland Security seems reluctant to devote significant resources to monitoring non-Islamic domestic terrorism, especially in the light of the election of an African-American president and the collapse of the economy.”
Cohen is scheduled to speak before the Salisbury Forum on April 19 at The Hotchkiss School in Salisbury, Conn., on the history of hate groups in the U.S. and what can be done about them.
“One thing I will talk about in Salisbury is how we are seeing similar signs now to what we saw before the Oklahoma City bombing,” Cohen explained. “I don’t think the country is headed for a revolution, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another Oklahoma City. I think the prospect of significant damage from domestic terrorism is very real.”
Potok’s interview with Piers Morgan can be seen below: