To the editor:

As details of the terrorist bombing in Oslo and the politically motivated massacre of nearly 100 young people on the Norse island of Utoya continue to emerge, it's becoming crystal clear that governments need to start paying as much attention to right wing, Christian extremist groups within their countries as they do Islamic extremist elements in their midst.

The alleged perpetrator is a self-professed right wing, Christian extremist who is, when all is said and done, as much of a "jihadist" as any member of al-Qaida.

His lengthy manifesto revealed a level of religious bigotry every bit as vile as what his Islamic extremist counterparts advocate and promote, albeit wrapped in the cloak of Christianity and white nationalism.

Although we have not seen such right wing, white nationalist violence in the U.S. since 1995, when Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 people at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, we need to remember that some on the "New American Right" share many of the beliefs and values the Oslo terrorist articulated in his manifesto.

Many on the "New American Right" are deeply xenophobic and religiously bigoted, with Latin immigrants and Muslim Americans bearing the brunt of that bigotry.

The Muslim community that tried to build a mosque in Tennessee — only to have it burned to the ground, with so-called "Christians" now suing to try and prevent them from rebuilding — is but one example of how extreme some elements within the "New American Right" really are.

That extremism and bigotry was recently endorsed by Herman Cain, the GOP presidential candidate, with his assertion on the campaign trail that Americans have a "right" to prevent mosques from being built in their communities.

My question is "If Americans have a 'right', as Herman Cain asserts, to prevent the construction of a mosque in their community based on nothing but fear, ignorance, and religious bigotry, what's next?

Could a fundamentalist Christian community in the south assert it has a "right" to block the construction of a synagogue or a Catholic church because those fundamentalists don't acknowledge the validity of either Judaism or Catholicism?

The frightening irony in it all is that Herman Cain and so many others on the "New American Right", claims to revere the Constitution, but his words reveal a complete lack of understanding of, and even respect for, the document he claims to hold in such high regard.

Could we see the same kind of right-wing, Christian extremism that fueled the violence in Norway rear its ugly head here?

I'd like to think the answer is no. But folks need to remember all those signs at right wing rallies during the 2010 election expressing sentiments like "By ballot or bullet, restoration is coming," and "If ballots don't work, bullets will."

The old Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times".

Not only are we living in interesting times, we are living in volatile times — times in which the potential for extremist-driven political violence of a domestic nature, like that which rocked Norway, is all too frighteningly real.

MICHAEL COOK

Conomo Point, Essex

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