If you’re fiercely nationalistic (pro-American), anti-global (anti-UN), suspicious of centralized federal authority (like the Framers), reverent of individual liberty (like Patrick Henry), and believe in “conspiracy” theories (like the federal government allowing the sale of assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels to justify limiting American’s rights under the Second Amendment, a la Fast and Furious), then according to these taxpayer-funded researchers, you too are on the “extreme right-wing.” Many Americans would be surprised to find themselves so categorized by the researchers at START.
It should be no surprise that two subgroups identified in the codebook under “extreme right-wing” include “gun rights” and “tax protest.” Tea Party terrorists, anyone?
Again, this raises the question: who gets to categorize the data?
Anti-Semitism is included in the codebook as a subgroup for both the “racist” and “extreme right-wing” categories, but it is missing as a subgroup for the extreme left-wing. Because after all, it’s not like extreme left-wing groups like the Center for American Progress revel in their anti-Semitism, right?
It is amazing what you won’t find when you don’t look, or more specifically, when you define out the possibility or exclude data that conflicts with your predetermined conclusions altogether. But when you examine the roots of the taxpayer-funded START program, no one should be surprised at its agenda-driven study.
The recently appointed director of the START center is the Obama administration’s de facto Islamophobia czar, Bill Braniff. An example of Braniff’s blindly partisan research methodology can be seen in his statements quoted in a July 2011 NPR article, where he spies widespread Islamophobia in law enforcement training:
I think this is something that happens across the nation fairly consistently … No one is tracking this with numbers, but anecdotally we are hearing about it all the time. The Muslim-American community is being preyed upon from two different directions. One, the jihadist recruitment and radicalization that is actively preying on their sons and daughters; and two, the elevated levels of Islamophobia — Islamophobia at worst and distrust and alienation at best.
Note Braniff’s sweeping assessment (it “happens across the nation fairly consistently”) and his immediate admission that there is no objective basis for his assessment (“no one is tracking this with numbers”).
But Braniff goes further to demonize anyone who disagrees with his rampant Islamophobia conspiracy theories, by equating “Islamophobes” with al-Qaeda and accusing them of “preying” on the Muslim community like jihadist recruiters. Such is the standard of scholarship from the director of the START program (the NPR article itself was criticized for deliberately eliminating salient facts directly relevant to the matter).