This chapter offers some final comments on the topics discussed in the preceding chapters. The first section seeks to explain why NGOs have been so effective in this field of public policy. The second section addresses some of the civil liberties implications of the collaboration between the government and NGOs. The third section offers some public policy recommendations. The fourth section speculates on the significance of the far right in the future. And finally, the impact of 9/11 on this issue is discussed.
Why have watchdog groups been able to set so much of the agenda in this field of public policy? First, unlike other public policy issues, this area of public policy is basically a no-lose proposition for lawmakers. By supporting policies such as hate crime legislation, anti-paramilitary training statutes, and tougher counter-terrorist measures, lawmakers send symbolic messages that they are taking a tough stand against bigotry and support law and order. By doing so, they gain the approval of the interest groups that advocate these policies. Furthermore, with the exception of some of the new counter-terrorist initiatives, these policy measures usually do not involve significant fiscal costs, and hence they do not really raise issues of tax increases or sacrificing money from other programs to implement them. 1
Second, there really is not much competition or countervailing power on the other side of this issue. The far right, although it episodically experiences spurts of growth, is still small, organizationally fragmented, and has little popular support. And overall the movement is considered to be beyond the pale in American society. Thus there is a feeling of mutual suspicion between both the far right and the larger society in which it finds itself. Jeffrey Kaplan referred to this development as “mutual deligitimation, ” which posits that
not only is the nascent dissident group engaged in a process of stripping the regime of its claim to legitimacy, but either simultaneously or more often as