Group movements in the United States typically fall within two boundaries, the left, and the right. The goals and the people that make up these groups differ wildly, as do their methods of achieving their particular goals. Additionally, there are extreme swings within each group that push, and often times exceed the boundaries of ethical behavior. In fact, some of these groups could be considered terrorist organizations, or at the very least hate groups. This paper will describe each of these movements, their potential for violence, and the social make-up of the members.
Furthermore, we will compare extremist groups in the United States with other extremist groups throughout the world. Finally, in light of current events; specifically renewed focus on gun control, we will look at the potential of a buildup of militia groups that were seen in the 1990s with the Patriot move. History provides us with many version of what a nascent anarchist movement has would likely look like. This type of movement is usually established by factions that have a leftist mentality, and typically will focus on social issues like “anti-war, civil rights and women’s rights” (Martin, 2011, pg. 41).
In fact, I posit that there are nascent movements happening right now, specifically, opposition groups of Donald Trump and his stance on immigration, and almost certainly the Group Black lives Matter. As in past “left-wing” movements, they are not particularly violent in nature, and are centered on social issues. The jury is still out on how effective these groups will be in preventing Trump from winning the election, although at this point it appears that is going to be a hard fought battle between left and right leaners.
On the other hand, Black Lives Matter has been effective in their movement of demanding change and awareness for continued civil right injustices in the black community. Additionally, this group seems to be more reflective of a typical left-wing movement in its structure and tactics. They can usually be seen marching in protest of a perceived police state injustice, or a wrongful conviction of a black citizen. While typically these protests are peaceful towards other citizens, these groups do have a tendency to project vandalism toward business’ and particularly government vehicles like police cars.
Largely, leftist movements have never been outwardly violent toward civilians, although the same cannot be said for law enforcement personnel or symbolic targets such as courthouses (Martin, 2011). Conversely, right-wing movements have been much more prone to violence against others that may not hold their same value, religion, or ethnicity. Right-wing extremism has historically been more prone to violence based off hate, often resulting in killings of innocent people to project their dominance.
Typical right-wing groups are “anti-government and evangelical religious”. Additionally, they often believe in otherwise outrageous conspiracy theories, i. e. , invasions from Russia or the Chinese armies, and the New World Order” (Martin, 2011). Extreme right-wing movements often produce some of the most violent groups as well. Some of the more popular violent groups are the KKK, and skinheads. These groups believe in racial superiority, and that white people are the only true race created by God (Martin, 2011).
While the violence from the right is typically not as well organized as groups from the left, they seem to be driven more by hate to ethnic groups, anti-government are appear to value the lives of others outside their group very little. Current events show just how violent these groups can be with the resent protest in California, where multiple fights broke out, as well as four serious stabbings as these hate groups gathered for a march. Additionally, Timothy McVeigh was a known anti-government supporter that killed hundreds of innocent civilians when he bombed a federal building in Oklahoma.
His is the perfect example of how much deadlier the far-right movements are, and the damage they are willing to inflict. Simply because a group is designated as a hate group or antigovernment does not necessarily mean they should lose their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or freedom of illegal search and seizure. Obviously, if there is a known threat or illegal activity from these groups they should be investigated as allowed by law. One of America’s core values is the freedom people have to express their personal views in a constructive non-violent manner.
In fact, as long as a group is not infringing upon another person’s freedoms, then I posit that there should be absolutely no reason to impose restriction upon that group. Certainly, if the government believes any of these groups could possess a terrorist agenda, they have all aspects of the Patriot Act to monitor, and even freeze financial assets from these groups. Maybe my stance is not popular, but I postulate, that no one would want the government tempering with their chosen organization just because a majority of the population does not agree with it.
America is the dreamland for many people around the world for a reason, our personal freedoms and ability to grow is unmatched throughout the world. In fact, even our protagonist groups differ from the rest of the world. As discussed above, activist groups in the United States typically fall within the realms of “left-wing and right-wing” (Martin, 2011). The further left or right the move along those spectrums, the more potential for violence and terrorist related activities arise.
Additionally, their causes range from social issues, to religious issues, and antigovernment issues. Conversely, activist and terrorist movements throughout the rest of the world are typically motivated by religion, or at the very least directed towards the western world way of life. Rarely do we see activist in other parts of the world fighting for social issues or even anti-government confrontations. Sure, during the Arab spring there we pockets of antigovernment reform, but largely those protests were crushed by hardline leaders.
The limited personal freedoms probably make it difficult for strong antigovernment movements such as the Patriot movement seen in the United States. Movements in the United States similar to the Patriot movement of the 1990s are likely gaining momentum again as a renewed push for gun control has arisen due to resent mass shootings. Activists in these groups are historically driven by conspiracy theories that the government is attempting to take over control and limit people freedoms; specifically impinging on people’s rights to bear arms (Martin, 2011).
There are some trends to indicate this, mostly in the amount of fireamrs and ammunition that have been sold over the past 5 years. Although, just as history has shown, I expect the buildup of these activist groups to wain fairly quickly as people realize their fears are unfounded. In closing, while any activist group can become deadly depending how far left or right they have moved, it is far more likely to see terrorist related activities emanating from groups belonging to the far-right wing of the spectrum.
Conversely, simply because a group may produce hate speech, or have views that are not in line with most people’s version of moral value, does not permit the government to investigate or restrict their particular activities. While activist groups within the United States seem to fall within those “left and right” movements, most other countries are not as diverse with their particular activist groups. As we have seen over the past 40 years, a majority of activist in other countries are typically religion based, and often more deadly than American activist groups.
Finally, a movement similar to the Patriot movement during the 1990s is likely building again as we see a renewed push for gun control, and more government control of Americans everyday lives. Ultimately, most activist groups fade away with time due to changes in policy, or being convicted for illegal activity. Although, the beauty of America is that these groups are able to express their concerns, and sometimes even force appropriate policy change.