ADL forum tackles meeting of extremists on right, left

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"How can you battle groups that don't recognize the authority of the FBI, the DMV or the IRS?" said symposium organizer Abigail Wolf, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League's Central Pacific region.

"How do you negotiate with groups like that, when bodies of authority that underlie our government are meaningless to them?" Wolf said.

Speakers at the event will include Jack White. As the first African American journalist to become a Time magazine columnist, White will discuss Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Michael Yamaguchi, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, will explore law-and-order issues related to extremist groups.

And John Bunzel, senior research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, will provide an overview of extremism and its roots.

Among other aspects of the issue, the panel will debate the effects of media attention on high-profile extremists.

Wolf says the media's "soft treatment" of extremists on both the right and left was one factor that inspired the ADL forum.

"It's incredible to me to see Farrakhan return from…visiting some of the most notorious despots in the world, and every elected official [in America] is afraid to confront him," Wolf said.

Last February, Farrakhan toured Islamic countries. Four of these — Sudan, Libya, Iran and Iraq — are on the U.S. State Department's list of nations that sponsor international terrorism.

Muslim leaders such as Moammar Khadafy gave Farrakhan donations earmarked for Nation of Islam. After Farrakhan returned, Congress called him in, demanding an explanation of his trip.

Certain congressmembers urged investigations into whether his acceptance of these donations constitutes treason.

"This was treasonous activity. [Yet] he comes back and nothing happens," Wolf said.

Currently the FBI is also holding back from arresting the Freemen in Montana. The anti-federal government group has been under surveillance for weeks.

Government officials have been negotiating with group members, urging a surrender. But these officials are reluctant to use the sort of force that sparked bloody militia standoffs in Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

Wolf noted that extremist groups on both the right and left maintain separatist agendas — and, ironically, both are willing to work with each other toward that end.

The Nation of Islam wants a separate African American state. White-supremacist groups and some militia groups want their own countries, Wolf said.

Both poles of the extremist spectrum use smoke screens to hide their true agendas, she said.

Farrakhan's promotion of personal responsibility and community involvement, she said, obscures an anti-Semitic agenda.

She added that white militias' promotion of the right to bear firearms masks a conviction that whites are racially superior.

She hopes the panel will fling away those masks.