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I have come to terms with the fact that my 80-year-old father suffers from Fox Geezer Syndrome. So I try to take this into account when I receive an email from him about something else going on in the United States that I should be fearful about. Personally, I simply don't understand why anyone in this country would constantly search for things to be angry and afraid about, but that's the father I have, and so I've learned to tolerate it.

Tonight I received an email from my father with the subject line:

I am now defined as a terrorist.
Out of respect for my father, I opened the email. All it contained was a link to this article: DHS Labels Liberty-Lovers as Potential Terrorists. Right. Of course, they did. I clicked the link about a report titled "Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States" and published January 31, 2012. I have to wonder if the author of the article was desperate for something to write about to have to hone in on a report that has been out for so long. I read the article. I read the report as best as I could considering the fact that it was not all that interesting.

I also did some additional research, which included the discovery that this report is a hot topic on a lot of conservative websites and blogs. It's all over the Internet with headlines like: Pro-Life? Obama Administration Considers You a Terror Suspect ... (I guess these people never heard about the Murder of George Tiller. And, of course, it's all Obama's fault.)

After spending all that time reading, I finally wrote this response to my father, who served 20 years as an officer in the United States Army.

Dad,

Let me get this straight. We are talking about a report written by a Gary LaFree, who has been the Director, National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, University of Maryland, from January 2005 to present. (Refresh my memory. Who was the President of the US in January 2005? Wasn’t it that guy who created the Office of Homeland Security?)

I read the article and I read the report, which was difficult because the report is mostly filled with a lot of data, so it was rather boring, and I had planned to do other things this evening. I can not put much stock in the article which seems to me to have the primary motivation of upsetting people by making claims that don’t make sense. For instance, the article talks about the fact that the report excludes certain acts of Islamic terrorism. I simply do not understand why it should. If you’re writing a paper that attempts to identify domestic terrorists (attacks are considered domestic by the FBI because they were carried out by U.S. citizens), why would you include data about Islamic terrorists? I do not appreciate this type of writing because all it does is stoke fear, hate and anger for no practical reason. How did reading that article make you feel? Are you angry? Who or what are you angry at and why?

The report is trying to create a methodology to identify potential “domestic” terrorists in this country, and created a profile that says a potential terrorist might include somebody who is “reverent of individual liberty.” I am reverent of individual liberty, and having read the report, I simply don’t see myself described in it. Why do you see yourself in it? Would you prefer that the Department of Homeland Security not try to identify potential domestic terrorists in this country? What’s the point of having the Department? How is it supposed to “develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks” if it doesn’t develop a methodology for identifying potential terrorists who would create those threats? I know it’s not pleasant to have to acknowledge that there are U.S. Citizens who would do harm to fellow citizens for political purposes, but unfortunately we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that there very well might be more people like Timothy McVeigh in this country.

A few days ago I saw this story about Venn Diagrams. The people at the upworthy.com website that put together the report also started a Blog dedicated to similar Venn Diagrams. I thought perhaps if I created a Venn Diagram for you, it might make you see why the report from the Department of Homeland Security is not describing you:


Venn Diagram

Any profile of a potential terrorist could include characteristics that can be attributed to you, as well as the majority of U.S. citizens. However, such a profile would also include characteristics that can not be attributed to you thereby excluding you from being a potential suspect. I hope that this alleviates your worries, and that you will sleep peacefully knowing that the Department of Homeland Security will not be targeting you as a domestic terrorist.

I love you.

I'm not completely sure I understand everything that I read tonight, or that my interpretations of the report and the article are correct. My one hope was to open my fathers eyes enough to see that it wasn't worth getting himself worked up over.

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