Tue, 14 Apr 2009 17:56:46 +0000 – Editor's note: David K. Rehbein, an Army veteran and national commander of The American Legion, sent the following letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in response to the recent Homeland Security report warning about "Rightwing Extremism."
Secretary Janet Napolitano Department of Homeland Security U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC 20528
April 13, 2009
Dear Secretary Napolitano,
On behalf of the 2.6 million-member American Legion, I am stating my concern about your April 7 report, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence and Recruitment." First, I want to assure you that The American Legion has long shared your concern about white supremacist and anti-government groups. In 1923, when the Ku Klux Klan still yielded unspeakable influence in this country, The American Legion passed Resolution 407. It resolved, in part, "...we consider any individual, group of individuals or organizations, which creates, or fosters racial, religious or class strife among our people, or which takes into their own hands the enforcement of law, determination of guilt, or infliction of punishment, to be un-American, a menace to our liberties, and destructive to our fundamental law..." The best that I can say about your recent report is that it is incomplete. The report states, without any statistical evidence, "The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks."
The American Legion is well aware and horrified at the pain inflicted during the Oklahoma City bombing, but Timothy McVeigh was only one of more than 42 million veterans who have worn this nation's uniform during wartime. To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical "disgruntled military veteran" is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam.
Your report states that "Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages." Secretary Napolitano, this is more than a perception to those who have lost their job. Would you categorize union members as "Right Wing extremists"?
In spite of this incomplete, and, I fear, politically-biased report, The American Legion and the Department of Homeland Security share many common and crucial interests, such as the Citizen Corps and disaster preparedness. Since you are a graduate of New Mexico Girls State, I trust that you are very familiar with The American Legion. I would be happy to meet with you at a time of mutual convenience to discuss issues such as border security and the war on terrorism. I think it is important for all of us to remember that Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are.
David K. Rehbein National Commander The American Legion