Two weeks before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security penned its controversial report warning against "right-wing extremists" in the United States, it generated a memo defining dozens of additional groups – animal rights activists, black separatists, tax protesters, even worshippers of the Norse god Odin – as potential "threats."
While many of the groups listed in the lexicon – such as Aryan prison gangs and neo-Nazis – may indeed be widely considered extremists, others will likely take offense at being described as a potential "threat."
For example, the memo defines the "tax resistance movement" – also referred to in the report as the tax protest movement or the tax freedom movement – as "groups or individuals who vehemently believe taxes violate their constitutional rights. Among their beliefs are that wages are not income, that paying income taxes is voluntary, and that the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed Congress to levy taxes on income, was not properly ratified."
The report, however, continues in its assessment of tax protesters, asserting that members "have been known to advocate or engage in criminal activity and plot acts of violence and terrorism in an attempt to advance their extremist goals."
Similarly, the lexicon concludes its definition of "black separatists" by asserting, "Such groups or individuals also may embrace radical religious beliefs. Members have been known to advocate or engage in criminal activity and plot acts of violence directed toward local law enforcement in an attempt to advance their extremist goals."
In his blog piece titled "Who You Calling an Extremist?" Sarlin writes, "Partisans leapt to decry the first DHS memo as part of a Democratic conspiracy to marginalize right wingers. But it became clear that DHS's broad descriptions of extremists were symptomatic of an ongoing agency problem that crossed ideological lines." ….