Murray Rothbard once spoke fondly of the 19th-century New York politician William M. (“Boss”) Tweed who was notoriously corrupt. Why? Because Tweed operated before the days of Public Relations, in the days when a crook was a crook and he didn’t pretend to pick your pocket “for your own good”; he did it for the money or the power. Tweed, as Murray said of him in chortling admiration, was a real crook — “a crook’s crook.”
The latest anti-terrorism document to issue from the White House is entitled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” (“Empowering”); as the title suggests, it addresses domestic terrorism. Published in early August, “Empowering” is a blatant expansion of state power not only into the lives but also into the minds of American communities and families. But the agenda is carefully presented in politically correct language and vague bureaucratese. In short, Boss Obama’s team has coated “Empowering” with such a thick patina of PR that few people are reacting to anything else.
In an article entitled “Defeating Islamic Terrorism through Appeasement”, the Conservative FrontPage Magazine declared the message of the “mostly redundant” eight-page document to be “Collaborate!” Those with whom the article stated the document proposes to collaborate are the Muslim communities to which “Empowering” suggests outreach as a means of preventing terrorism. In an article entitled “New White House Extremism Report Sober, Tepid,” the Huffington Post stated of the document, “It is broad, sober, careful not to assign blame to any particular community, and fairly uninspiring.”
Had they read the same document I had? Immediately beneath the PR patina is an agenda for naked state expansion. Specifically, it is an ambitious pre-crime agenda that aims to nip in the bud radical ideologies that are said to inspire violence; and it encourages ideologies of which the government approves through the largely undefined involvement of largely unnamed federal agencies. One thing is crystal clear, however: the White House has declared war on the wrong ideas with the goal of preventing people from becoming too radical.
The Introductory page, signed “Barack Obama”, states, “As a government we are working to prevent all types of extremism that leads to violence no matter who inspires it.... The strategy that follows outlines how the Federal Government will support and help American communities and their local partners in their grassroots efforts to prevent violent extremism. This strategy commits the Federal Government to improving support to communities, including sharing more information about the threat of radicalization....”