The descriptor “domestic terror organization” seems to get tossed around a lot these days, so it’s probably worth noting that relatively few of the discussions bother to define their terms.
So, what defines a “domestic terror organization?”
This question, one ignored far too often, is critical for Americans trying to understand the threats facing them today.
Only proper definitions can provide the clarity voters will need as they head to the polls in less than six weeks.
To cut ot the chase, the issue becomes increasingly clearer.
While there are dangerous, disturbed, violent individuals who claim affiliation with causes and movements across the political spectrum, it is the Left which has produced domestic terror organizations.
Worse, while leaders of both parties are quick to distance themselves from specific violent acts and individuals — whether from among their supporters or opponents— only the GOP seems prepared to challenge domestic terror organizations.
Thus, it is the Democrats, and much of the Left, embracing them as potentially useful parts of their coalition.
That said, let’s turn to some actual definitions.
“Domestic” is easy enough.
Activists from the ideological Left to the Right agree that to qualify as “domestic,” an organization must be active in the United States. The difficulty stems from the other two words.
What differentiates an act of terror from “mere” violence, brutality, or mayhem?
Just how organized must a movement be to qualify as an “organization?”
Such questions are hardly semantic.
Consider two high-profile atrocities of recent years: The mass shootings in a Parkland, Florida school and in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue.
Both shooters were disturbed individuals acting alone.
The Parkland shooter was a former student whose motive was never clear. The Pittsburgh shooter’s motivation included white supremacist leanings, a deep hatred of both Jews and immigrants, and an on-line presence that likely intensified those feelings and emboldened him towards actions.
Does either shooting point to a specific organization?
In the Parkland mass-shooting, it’s hard to think of one.
In the Pittsburgh case, many commentators like to blame “white supremacism,” which is a toxic philosophy associated with powerful organizations of the past but only small organizations today.
Meanwhile, others prefer to harp on or specific chat rooms or social media platforms that deviants and criminals favor — but even those critics concede that what makes those fora popular is a laissez-faire policy rather than advocacy of a viewpoint.
Nor does it appears that either shootings qualify as terrorism.
According to the FBI, “There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as ‘the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.'”
That last phrase is critical.
Terrorists, and terror organizations, use violence to influence behavior and policy.
Under that definition, it’s clear that 21st century America has experienced terror attacks from only two sources — and neither one identifies as part of the political right.
The first is Islamist terror, which played major roles during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. These terrorists’ objective largely involved foreign policy.
Islamists wanted (and want) the U.S. to oppose Israel, stop supporting Muslim leaders they deem insufficiently pure, and withdraw all troops from what they consider to be the Muslim world. As a general rule, America’s political right tends to take a far harder line against Islamist terrorism than the Left, where worries about “Islamophobia” and “legitimate” grievances — as well as antipathy towards Israel — argue for some sort of accommodation.
The second is the wave of BLM/Antifa riots that began during the Obama years and resurfaced in far more organized and dangerous form over this past Memorial Day weekend.
The political objectives here are clear: Eliminate the police, invert historical bigotries to discriminate against “white people, and — remove Donald Trump from office.
What numerous American cities have experienced is thus classic terrorism: Threats of continued and accelerated violence unless individual voters and government at all levels accede to specific political demands.
The well-intentioned peaceful protestors who keep these riots alive and provide cover for the violence may not realize that they’ve joined a terrorist organization — but they have.
Even those who are not personally violent are prepared to use the violence of their allies to further their own political goals.
Worse, leading Democrats are doing the same.
They couldn’t be bothered to comment about the riots at their own convention, despite embracing the rioter’s objectives. Many have issued calls for continued violence and raised bail funds to support it. In the wake of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last week, threats to “burn it down” and “radicalize”America even further unless President Trump and the GOP yield to Democrat demands have intensified.
At the end of the day, America’s most organized domestic terrorists identify entirely with the Left — and are gaining rapid acceptance among mainstream Democrats. American voters will soon have to choose whether to reward their terror efforts or stand very strongly against them.
This post originally appeared at Newsmax.com.