A paranoid fringe group

Frank J Fleming’s latest column is one of his best:

Like many of my fellow Americans, I’m getting pretty concerned about a fringe group in our country that’s growing increasingly isolated and paranoid. Worse, we now have indications that this group is lashing out in ignorance and fear.

It’s time that we finally confront the problem of federal workers’ growing anti-citizen extremism.

The feds have shown warning signs for years, becoming increasingly withdrawn, hunkered down in their bunkers in DC. They’re disconnected from what’s going on in the rest of the country, getting their news only from extremist sources like Media Matters, MSNBC and The New York Times.

And in their fear and isolation, federal workers seem willing to believe almost any crazy conspiracy theory about the American public — such as that everyone is secretly racist against the president and that people are going to form militias to fight the government.

And now we know they’ve started attacking those they fear, with IRS workers targeting right-wing groups and Justice Department employees going after journalists. Others are apparently engaged in some massive spying operation on anyone who’s ever put a cat photo on Facebook. (To be fair, these last may really just be trying to spy on their ex-girlfriends.)

Now, citizen have plenty to worry about with the feds lashing out. After all, for years the government has stockpiled dangerous weapons like assault rifles, nuclear weapons and audit forms.

It hasn’t started blowing up US citizens in drone strikes (other than the four), but who knows what the feds will do if their paranoia is allowed to grow?

So what can be done? Well, we can’t do much as average citizens, as, of course, the government never listens to us. But certain people hold a lot of sway over it, and maybe they should start to watch what they say, considering that excitable, easily influenced groups like federal workers are out there listening.

Now, I’m all for freedom of speech — along with the iPad, it’s one of the modern conveniences I use the most — but some people need to be more careful with what they say about the citizenry, so they don’t feed federal workers’ paranoia.

I’m thinking especially of President Obama, as people in the federal government tend to listen to him. When Obama and his colleagues talk about how dangerous the Tea Party and other conservatives are, with their dislike of taxes and spending, most folks are discerning enough to dismiss that as partisan rhetoric. But impressionable people not known for independent thinking — bureaucrats — will hear talk of the “dangers” these groups pose and act as if the dangers are real.

I’ll bet when the IRS went after Tea Party groups and Eric Holder signed warrants to investigate reporters, these people ignorantly thought they were helping Obama and that he’d be happy with them.

I’m not trying to say this is Obama’s fault — it’s not like it’s his job to know what goes on in the federal government — but if he were more careful with what he says, he could probably end a lot of federal workers’ paranoia about our citizens right now. He could instead explain to the people in the government that there is nothing to fear from ordinary Americans — that, in fact, a healthy country needs not only a flourishing government, but also a strong, powerful citizenry.

And once the feds have calmed down and are no longer scared of the people, we need someone to finally keep an eye on it so it doesn’t do crazy things out of fear again. In fact, I thought there were already people who are supposed to do that.

After the Fast & Furious mess, we should have known someone like Eric Holder can’t be responsible for himself, but we need to have a long talk with whoever his supervisor is.

(I’ve corrected a few typos that somehow got past the Post’s editors.)

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