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Letters: Get back to a true democracy
“... the most dramatic growth [was] in ... conspiracy-minded organizations, which see the federal government as their primary enemy [and] grew by 61 percent over the previous year. Their numbers increased to 824 groups in 2010, from 512 groups a year earlier. Previously, the only higher count of Patriot groups came in 1996 ... when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) founded 858 groups. Militias, the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement, grew from 127 groups to 330 -- a 160 percent increase” (Spring 2011, Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center quarterly investigative journal). Read the full report here: http://bit.ly/hpFu6i.
Deciding who is “extremist” or a “patriot” depends on one’s own viewpoint. True to American critical thought processes among our citizens, each person takes a different view on an issue. Debate in the spirit of mutual respect is a healthy sign of a concerned and involved citizenry, the foundation of a true democracy. The key characteristic of extremist patriots in this report seems to be the willingness to use violence against one’s fellow Americans with whom they disagree as a “patriotic” act. The Oklahoma bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building was carried out by such a “patriot” militia member.
The growth of such hate groups and “patriot” militias in a nation dedicated to free speech and mutual respect threatens our very identity as a people. This represents not an attack by a foreign power, but the cancer of hatred, which is destroying the nation from within. One wonders how much this scene resembles that of Germany during the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Socialist Party. (Cf. Escape from Freedom by social psychologist Erich Fromm.)
For those of us who own the vision of our Founders in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, this is our mission: Witnessing to peace and non-violence, working to eradicate the causes of hatred’s growth in the hearts of so many. May 2013 be a year in which hatred recedes and true love for God, neighbor, and country grow in the heart of each American. Justice, peace, and true freedom will follow as the “lion” of hatred learns to befriend the Lamb of Peace.
SISTER ELIZABETH RIEBSCHLAEGER
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