Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Do you know a terrorist?

Do you know a terrorist?  You might.  In fact, look in the mirror.  If you are pro-life and anti-abortion, you are, according to one study, a likely terrorist.  Read it and weep. . .

Dr. Arlie Perliger, the author of the new West Point report.A study published by West Point's anti-terrorism center claims the “pro-life paradigm” is a motivating factor in domestic terrorism.  Dr. Arie Perliger, director of terrorism studies at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), makes the allegation in his report, “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.” The document – which references abortion 76 times in 146 pages – was issued in November but only reported last month.

Dr. Arlie Perliger, the author of the new West Point report.
In an analysis of “far-right terrorism,” Perliger likens the pro-life movement to the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads, and Christian Identity (a racist Christian heresy).

 Think this is an isolated instance of a kook with government money to do a study?
 How about these:

An April 2009 DHS report entitled “Rightwing [sic.] Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” identified “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration” and opposition to same-sex “marriage,” as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” The DHS later pulled the report.

Yet DHS and FBI agents subsequently attended a terrorism training seminar on alleged pro-life terrorism hosted by Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the Feminist Majority Foundation. After equating free speech with violence, organizers distributed a resource guide listing three pages of purportedly extremist websites to monitor, including mainstream organizations such as Priests for Life and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Yet another DHS-funded report, Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970 to 2008,” written by Gary LaFree and Bianca Bersani, concluded that single issue groups, including abortion opponents, had perpetrated more atrocities over a longer period of time than “extreme left-wing,” “extreme right-wing,” “religious,” or “ethno-nationalist” terrorists.

Constitutional expert John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute has voiced concerns that the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) “would allow the military to show up at your door if you’re [deemed] a ‘potential terrorist,’ and put you in military detention” indefinitely, without charges.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, AE took Perliger to task for his sham use of numbers.

Arie Peliger is a charlatan
Out of our most renowned, prestigious military academy's Combating Terrorism Center comes a report entitled "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right". At nearly 150 pages, it was difficult enough to hastily skim through, let alone read it from top to bottom. Sample sentence: "The far right has become more vibrant and more ideologically and structurally diverse than ever before." (Wait, is that a good thing?)

I'd like, however, to highlight the jaw-dropping statistical analysis the distinguished author, one Arie Perliger, offers. Jumping to page 96, we're presented with a table ranking states by the number of "far-right attacks" that have occurred in each over the last two decades. Subsequent correlations are then reported. The four variables for which the relationship with the number of attacks in a state are the strongest are Jewish population size (r = .900), state population size (r = .888), Hispanic population size (r = .849), and African American population size (r = .598). By "size", Perliger is simply referring to population and is thus not talking about attacks per capita. The reason California has suffered so many more attacks than Wyoming has suffered (782 versus 6) is because California has so many more people--Jews, blacks, and Hispanics among them--than Wyoming has! I'm not making this up. Take a look for yourself.

Employing this 'methodology' (that would embarrass a freshman in the second week of Statistics 101), Perliger notes that "the birthplace of groups such as the KKK ... is no longer that natural habitat of the far right. ... The two states at the top of the list are California and New York, which are considered liberal--or blue--in terms of their ideological and political orientation. ... It can be determined that during the last twenty years the violence has shifted from the center/South to the coasts and the North (with the exception of Texas)."

Anonymous said...

To legitimately talk about a shift over time, Perliger would need to include a dataset from the past to compare to the present, which he doesn't do. That is parenthetical to the fatal flaw underlying his analysis, though. He is essentially putting together a ranking of states by population size, using it as a proxy for far-right violence, and then cobbling together something of a historical narrative about geographic shifts and trends in said far-right violence over time. By Perliger's thinking, if North Dakota and South Dakota combined into a single state, the new state, Greater Dakota, would be twice as susceptible to far-right violence as either state was before the merger! Mind boggling.

Perliger subsequently describes the use of "two-stage hierarchical regression analysis" which is "intended for controlling both state population size and density". I'm not familiar with what exactly that means, but whatever "controlling" entails, it doesn't appear to have much to do with controlling for variables. The correlations between violent attacks and black and Jewish total populations remained robust (.47 and .69, respectively), but for black and Jewish population proportions, the correlations were much weaker (.16 and .11). The relationship with the size of a state's Hispanic population and proportion apparently disappears entirely. From this, Perliger determines that "anti-Semitic and anti-African American sentiments and narratives are still emphasized and dominant ... hence there is a delay in the identification of the Hispanic minority as a threat by far-right groups."

Doing a little legwork with Perliger's data, the positive correlation between a state's hate rate and its total population is a moderate .33 (p = .02). While it's notable that such a relationship exists at all, it renders the commentary Perliger offers meaningless. Here's a state ranking of the annual rate of "far right attacks" per 100,000 people over the period covered:

State Rate
1. District of Columbia .303
2. Oregon .141
3. Maine .115
4. New York .110
5. Vermont .104
6. Massachusetts .104
7. New Hampshire .096
8. Washington .092
9. California .090
10. Idaho .088
11. Montana .087
12. Connecticut .084
13. Maryland .073
14. New Jersey .068
15. Rhode Island .066
16. Nevada .065
17. Iowa .064
18. Arizona .062
19. Delaware .062
20. Louisiana .062
21. New Mexico .061
22. Wisconsin .060
23. Illinois .058
24. Colorado .058
25. Florida .056
26. Pennsylvania .054
27. Minnesota .051
28. North Dakota .051
29. Indiana .051
30. West Virginia .049
31. Missouri .048
32. Alaska .048
33. South Dakota .047
34. Wyoming .046
35. Nebraska .045
36. Kentucky .041
37. Tennessee .040
38. South Carolina .040
39. Arkansas .038
40. North Carolina .038
41. Virginia .038
42. Kansas .035
43. Oklahoma .034
44. Texas .031
45. Michigan .031
46. Mississippi .029
47. Alabama .029
48. Georgia .028
49. Ohio .027
50. Hawaii .009
51. Utah .005

Anonymous said...

For comparative purposes, the national violent crime rate per 100,000 people in 2011 was 386.3. DC--home to so many militia types, as is as well-known as it is well established!--has highest far-right hate rate in the country. That alarmingly high rate is 1/1,277th of the national violent crime rate. Mercifully, the national hate rate is only 1/6,895th of the national violent crime rate. Yes, one of America's most pressing problems is indeed its violent, far-right extremists!

This is all really just a distraction, which I suppose is the point, much like designated "hate" crimes in general are (similarly to what is presented in the preceding table, DC has the second highest hate crime rate in the country, while Mississippi has the lowest--the correlation between Perliger's far-right hate rate and hate crime rates at the state level is a statistically significant .43, and with the South Dakota outlier removed, it jumps to .56). But the fact that tripe like this is being commissioned at the highest reaches of the nation's military establishment strikes me as almost indisputable evidence that we are doomed.

Thanks to an email from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous for pointing out James Bowery pointing out Perliger's report. The reader suggests those scandalized by this shoddy work write to the current commandment of cadets to express their displeasure:

Attn: Brig. Gen'l. Richard Clark
W. Pt Mil. Academy
606 Thayer Road
W Pt., NY 10996

Jerks like Perliger take comfort in the fact that few voters know any math and trust government authority completely as it is the hand that feeds them by confiscating their neighbors' goods.

Anonymous said...

DHS: "I have an idea. Let's create an imaginary enemy to justify our existence."