GOP Says Exercising First Amendment Rights is Terrorism but Domestic Terrorism is Not

We are at the point where actual terrorism (unless you’re Muslim) is not terrorism, but activism – exercising your First Amendment right of free speech – is. That’s the world as Republicans know it.

We’ve seen it from Bill O’Reilly and Rudy Giuliani and others, and Fox News’ Charles Gasparino just told us Friday that “Multiculturalism,” of all things, “is at the heart of a lot of this stuff” (terrorism). In other words, if we were just all white people, or at least acted like white people, there wouldn’t be any terrorism.

You know, except for people like the Bundys and those other well-armed, anti-government “patriot” groups. But that’s the thing: Republicans say those guys are “just” patriots.

Just think about that for a minute: Occupy and Black Lives Matter are terrorists, but the Bundys are not.

And Republicans who claim to be against an intrusive federal government not only want federal agencies to spy on Americans; they want them to spy MORE.

A new CREDO ACTION petition tells us,

In a blatant attempt to intimidate peaceful protesters and discourage First Amendment protected activities, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents are reportedly visiting the homes of peaceful activists and community organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, and asking about their plans for the Republican National Convention.[1]
This type of behavior is not new. The FBI and DHS have conducted ongoing surveillance of nonviolent social justice activists and political organizations for years. They have engaged confidential informants, infiltrated groups, interrogated organizers and used social media to create dossiers on activists with Black Lives Matter, School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), Occupy Wall Street and anti-Keystone XL pipeline groups.
Despite these revelations – and demands for an investigation from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation and more than 60 civil society organizations – Congress has so far refused to fulfill its oversight duty and rein in these attacks on our civil liberties.

So how is it peaceful activists are terrorists, but people like the Bundys and their supporters, are not? There is no logic beyond the fact that if it is a progressive or liberal cause, it is terrorism. If it is conservative, it is patriotic.

CREDO points to some of the questionable activities engaged in by the FBI and DHS:

  • The FBI infiltrated SOAW for 10 years with confidential informants using “counterterrorism authority” — despite acknowledging the group had no relationship to terrorism.
  • It engaged in similar “counterterrorism” surveillance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
  • DHS used social media to prepare detailed reports about peaceful Black Lives Matter protests for “situational awareness.”
  • FBI agents interrogated Keystone XL pipeline activists, cultivated informants, and created dossiers.

The petition says,

“Fulfill Congress’s oversight role by investigating the FBI and DHS surveillance of activists and political organizations. The U.S. government should never subject Americans to surveillance for exercising basic Constitutional rights.”

The Weimar government of Germany before Hitler’s assumption of power, tended to forgive conservatives too for breaking the law in the name of patriotism. So this is something the world has seen before.

We are in real trouble if exercising your First Amendment rights makes you a terrorist, but toting a gun around and seizing federal property and threatening federal agents, does not.


[1] “FBI and Police are Knocking on Activists’ Doors Ahead of Republican National Convention,” The Intercept, June 23, 2016.