The Department of Defense attempts to define an extremist and fails miserably.
In a manual provided by the United States Air Force and originating from the Department of Defense, an “extremist” is described as someone who “will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
The document was made available, along with 133 other documents from the Air Force, to legal watchdog Judicial Watch after they made a request through the Freedom of Information Act. Released in January 2013, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute “student guide” is titled “Extremism” and says it is for “training purposes only.” But how are they supposed to separate what they learn about extremism as a student and not apply it when they are in combat?
The manual goes on to define an “extremist” as “a person who advocates the use of force or violence; advocates supremacist causes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or national origin; or otherwise engages to illegally deprive individuals or groups of their civil rights.” By this definition, not only are the Founding Fathers likely extremists, but American citizens are too. Though many citizens, politicians, and presidential candidates state that their reasoning for discrimination is for national security, the reality is that these same people are actually engaging in extremism by demanding that people fleeing from war in other countries, especially those that are Muslim, not be allowed into the United States. But Americans can’t be extremists or terrorists, right?
Furthermore, the manual also explicitly cites the Founding Fathers as extremists when it states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.” This example is troubling, because the colonists had sought to free themselves from oppression while the Confederate states sought to do the same—in order to legally continue to severely oppress slaves.
The umbrella of this example and these descriptions are much too vague and reveal what some Americans really are: confused hypocrites. The Department of Defense is using these terms to define extremists that are dangerous for the nation, yet it’s showing that Americans themselves are engaging in the same extremist behavior, whether they are using hateful language to condemn refugees or actually trying to make the world a better place.
It’s clear from the broad spectrum of descriptions used to identify extremists that the Department of Defense simply does not know how to describe those that are actually a threat to national security. Though this may seem harmless in theory, one can only hope that when the time comes for those that absorbed these teachings to put it into practice that they know how to identify the real threats and those that are just victims of the oppression.