It is impossible to trace the genesis of United States terrorist extremism to a specific exact date, though one can narrow it to the period when the country was fighting for its freedom from the British rule. During this period, organized groups used extremist actions to express their perceptions on certain issues regarding colonial rules and regulations enforced.
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A good example for this period would be the infamous Boston Tea Party of 1773, where extremists rejected the Tea Act enforced by the British colonialists. The act was affecting the indigenous tea farmers where by they had to pay taxes to the colonialists with the exception of a single company – British East India.
The colonial government reacted to this act by enforcing measures that were a form of punishment to the population. The result was inevitable, but was not expected. This marked the start of the Great American Revolution. Thirteen states formed a single faction to fight off the British armed forces sent from various posts of their colonies to reestablish their dwindling rule.
Political Drivers behind Political Violence in the US over the past 200 years
The labour movement was most likely the first of political instruments that resulted in extremism violence. The then attorney general Mitchell Palmer was out to address spark criticism against communists in order to lead the citizenry to the First World War. The movement was definitely not for the war, leading to the use of force by the government.
It dispersed bureau agents to ensure that the completely communist related population did not enjoy their stay in the country. The agents mistreated and beat them up brutally, an act considered by the workers union as inhuman. This slowly grew into the First Red Scare, characterized by a wave of strikes by different labour factions throughout the country.
In the 1950s, fears were arrayed that communism was being entrenched deeper into the United States government system. This was during the period of the cold war. The communists strategically positioned spies at most, if not all of the powerful departments critical to governance. It was during this period, that the McCarthyism concept came up.
McCarthyism is the making of false accusations about an individual or group without the backing of facts and logical evidence. It came up after the then republican US Senator Joseph McCarthy. Senator McCarthy hated leftist extremists and everything they stood for (George & Wilcox, 1996, p. 44).
These include communism and socialism. Individuals who embraced McCarthyism then formed anti-communism movements that wrecked havoc to anyone suspected to be sharing communist sentiments.
The result was the unjust imprisonment of many innocent victims, displacements and tortures of suspects and the worst that was murder of many. This was clearly not, what McCarthy had in mind when giving his sentiments, as he regretted the result himself.
Left Wing and Right Wing Terrorism
According to the FBI (1996, p. 16), terrorist groups involve in three different forms, which are the Left Wing terrorism, Right Wing terrorism, and a new one that is the Special Interest terrorism. The latter consists of groups that seek to address certain special social misgivings that they consider unethical. A good example would be the animal rights issue, which has led to them attacking industries that handle fur.
Right Wing Terrorists are groups of extremists that involve in actions that seek to ‘liberate’ the public of the ‘bureaucracies’ that exist in the system of governance. The groups lobby for conservation of the environment – hence act against corporations that contaminate it even if their actions are licensed and are against actions by the government that ‘bind’ the people through legalities.
Being that anti-government, they lobby for the reduction in the size of government because the people fund it. They also stand against the taxation system as the government misuses the tax to enact policies that do not have the support of the people.
In another relation to their environmentalism, they are pro-life. They firmly stand against abortion and equate it to outright murder of an innocent child. It is due to this that a group known as Phineas Priesthood used a pipe bomb against the Planned Parenthood office in Washington in 1996.
Left Wing Terrorists are the most destructive of the three groups. It is in this group that the communists and socialists fall under. Though they have drastically reduced in number, they still pose the greatest threat to domestic security in the United States.
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According to the FBI report (1996, p. 17), they see themselves as the group that will liberate the United States from the bureaucratic hindrances that are a result from capitalism. They conduct themselves by carrying out explosions in places that are significant to their cause i.e. federal buildings.
Regardless of the intentions, terrorism is still poses the greatest threat to peace and stability both in the United States and across the globe. It is the duty if individuals to work on fostering unity and sustainability. The world may not be perfect, but it is a lot better when one considers the fact that everyday, someone does something about it.
Federal Bureau of Investigations Terrorism in the United States: 1996. Washington, DC, Pp. 5, 16, 17.
George, J., & Wilcox, L. M. (1996). American Extremists. Prometheus Books, P. 44