The subject of domestic terrorism in the United States is

The subject of domestic terrorism in the United States is arguably a study in idiosyncratic political violence. Indigenous terrorist groups reflected the American political and social environments during historical periods when extremists chose to engage in political violence.

In the modern era, left-wing and right-wing political violence grew from very different circumstances. Leftist violence evolved from a uniquely American social environment that produced the civil rights, Black Power, and New Left movements. Rightist violence grew out of a combination of historical racial and nativist animosity combined with modern applications of religious and antigovernment ideologies.

In the early years of the new millennium, threats continued to emanate from right-wing antigovernment and racial supremacist extremists. Potential violence from leftist extremists remained low in comparison with the right. September 11, 2001, attacks created a new security environment with an international dimension. The question of terrorism originating from domestic sources inspired by international events and ideologies became very plausible.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume that a nascent anarchist movement continues in its opposition to globalism. How should the modern leftist movement be described? What is the potential for violence originating from modern extremists on the left?
  2. Keeping in mind the many conspiratorial and mystical beliefs of the American right, what is the potential for violence from adherents of these theories to the modern American environment?
  3. As a matter of policy, how closely should hate and anti-government groups be monitored? What restrictions should be imposed on their activities? Why?
  4. Is the American activity profile truly an idiosyncratic profile, or can it be compared with other nations’ environments? If so, how? If not, why not?
  5. What are the factors that may give rise to a resurgence of a rightist movement on the scale of the 1990s Patriot movement? What do trends indicate that it will occur? What do trends indicate that it will not occur?