Both Sides Now
Several federal national security and law enforcement agencies warned last week that "violent adherents of the boogaloo identity" are planning to infiltrate protests and, as a Homeland Security Department (DHS) intelligence note put it, "threaten or incite violence to start the 'boogaloo' — a colloquial term referring to a coming civil war or the fall of civilization," Politico reported Friday night. Politico, citing several U.S. extremism experts, called "boogaloo" a "far-right extremest movement."
These assessments are "striking," Politico said, given the "public emphasis" President Trump "and Attorney General William Barr have placed on alleged violence carried out by adherents of the left-wing ideology antifa, while refusing to specifically identify and denounce the far-right groups like boogaloo that have been charged in recent weeks for acts ranging from felony murder to terrorism."
DHS found the reports striking for another reason, tweeting Saturday that the Politico article is "a work of fiction" because the DHS note did "not identify the Boogaloo movement as left-wing OR right-wing. They are simply violent extremists from both ends of the ideological spectrum." DHS went on to claim "the mainstream media is losing credibility with the vast majority of Americans."
The tweets raised eyebrows because U.S. federal agencies don't typically adopt Trump's "fake news" idiolect in public statements and because they incorrectly downplay right-wing violence and elevate left-wing violence.
"There is a clear link between far-right groups and gun culture that doesn't really exist in the culture of individuals who identify with the antifa movement," Jason Blazakis, a senior research fellow at the nonprofit Soufan Center, tells Politico. "That's a key distinguishing feature. There is a potential shared narrative between boogaloo and antifa, given the anti-government bent. But the way they project the threat is different." Far-right extremists have been tied to 27 homicides since 2019, versus zero for the far left since at least 2016, said Brian Levin, executive director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino. Other recent reports have found similar disparities.