Editorial Foreword: This essay by Marshall DeRosa is the third installment of a Nomocracy in Politics symposium, “Evaluating the Current Union of States.” This symposium will examine the various costs and benefits that Americans and others incur as a result of our current Union of States–a.k.a., the United States of America. The symposium will progress gradually over a period of weeks. Nomocracy in Politics would also like to credit Mike Church for providing the initial creative impetus for this symposium. Please also consider Allen Mendenhall’s two-part essay (here and here) and Bruce Frohnen’s piece that are also installments of this symposium.
Essay: If you consider yourself to be sympathetic to Anti-Federalists principles and question the “legitimacy and practical sovereignty of the federal government and its proxy organizations,”[i] welcome to the base of the iceberg. If you don’t sense a chill, keep reading.
According to the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, you are part of a subculture that provides support for the tip of the iceberg, where the culture of far-right violence and terrorism operates.
In November 2012,[ii] the CTC issued a chilling report conceptualizing three strains of far-right terrorism, the racist/white supremacy movement, the Anti-Federalist movement, and the Christian Fundamentalist movement. Although the three movements are presented as distinct, the first and third movements are connected by and sustained through the second.
According to the CTC, the ideological tenets of the Anti-Federalist movement include anti-taxation, gun rights, survivalist practices, libertarian ideas, opposition to the New World Order, international corporations, political institutions of the international community, and the “perception of the tyrannical nature of the [U.S. Government] and its apparent tendency to violate individuals’ civilian liberties and constitutional rights.” The report contends that the primary civil sin of the Anti-Federalist movement is its objective to “restrict the sovereignty of the federal government.”[iii]
Ideas have consequences and scholars espousing Anti-Federalist ideas incompatible with the sovereignty of the U.S. Government should not take solace in constitutional protections, including the rights of free speech.
SCOTUS has previously upheld convictions of those with political viewpoints contrary to the ruling class’ interests. For example, in Abrams v. United States (1919) the court upheld the amendments to the 1917 Espionage Act maintaining that speech with a “tendency to bring about something evil” is not constitutionally protected. The court reasoned that “language intended to bring the form of our government into contempt and disrepute” is not constitutionally sanctioned.[iv]
Eight years later in an unanimous decision, Whitney v. California (1927), the court maintained that “a State . . . may punish those who abuse this [free speech] freedom by utterances inimical to the public welfare, tending to incite crime, disturb the public peace, or endanger the foundations of organized government . . . .”[v]
These decisions were subsequently overturned, or more precisely modified, in 1951 and 1969, in Dennis v. United States and Brandenburg v. Ohio, respectively. The latter currently protects speech unless it incites imminent lawless action.[vi]
This is not meant to imply that SCOTUS would allow those of us with Anti-Federalist sympathies in the base of the iceberg to necessarily be held responsible for criminal acts committed by those at the tip of the iceberg who are inspired by Anti-Federalist ideas. It is meant to imply that the CTC lumps terrorist operatives, so-called, and those promulgating Anti-Federalist ideology together in its efforts to combat terrorism. Moreover, SCOTUS’ protection of free speech has an obvious circumstantial dynamic that has and in all probability will continue to influence its free speech jurisprudence.
Consider the CTC’s analysis of the militia movement. Conceding that although the movement lacks “identifiable national leaders or organizational framework,” there are “inspirational figures within the movement who gained significant influence [specializing] in producing ideological and operational publications.” (68)
This is troubling, especially in light of the CTC’s advisory role to public policymakers:
The Center’s advisory mission is to provide unique insights into the terrorism problem set in order to inform policy discussions. Due to the Center’s deep subject matter expertise and independence, the Combating Terrorism Center is consistently called upon to serve as a trusted, independent analytical voice for senior policymakers, as well as practitioners in the field. To date, the CTC has assisted the FBI, briefed members of Congress, and advised senior military leaders. In addition, the Center has conducted outreach with the private sector in order to engage leaders outside of government and help them understand the terrorist threat to the United States and around the globe. The Center also provides substantive presentations to various national security groups and think tanks, including the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Affairs Council.[vii]
This helps to explain why the Department of Homeland Security and other proxies for the U.S. Government have focused attention on the Tea Party.[viii] It is also highly probable that the U.S. Government is keeping tabs on those of us with Anti-Federalist views. As we critically evaluate the Union, we should keep in mind that the Union may be negatively evaluating us. That probability, if not reality, factors into my evaluation of the Union and is conclusive evidence that it is too big, too powerful, and presents an imminent threat to fundamental liberty.
Marshall DeRosa is Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University. He has published many works about American Political Thought, and these include The Politics of Dissolution and the Rhetorical Quest For A National Identity.
[i] Arie Perliger, “Challenges from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Far-Right,” 28, THE COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER at WEST POINT, www.ctc.usma.edu, November 2012; accessed at http://www.lifesitenews.com/images/pdfs/ChallengersFromtheSidelines.pdf.
[iii] Ibid, 27–31.
[iv] Abrams v. United States – 250 U.S. 616 (1919); accessed at http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/250/616/case.html.
[v]“Charlotte Anita Whitney, a member of the Communist Labor Party of California, was prosecuted under that state’s Criminal Syndicalism Act. The Act prohibited advocating, teaching, or aiding the commission of a crime, including ‘terrorism as a means of accomplishing a change in industrial ownership . . . or effecting any political change’”; accessed at WHITNEY v. CALIFORNIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 March 2014. http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1925/1925_3).
[vi] Brandenburg v. Ohio – 395 U.S. 444 (1969); accessed at http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/395/444/case.html.
[viii] See the American Thinker, December 16, 2013; accessed at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/05/why_was_the_department_of_homeland_security_monitoring_tea_party_irs_demonstrations.html.