Dealing with Domestic Terrorists and other Extremist Opponents to Legitimate Government Proposals and Actions
This seminar is about those of your opponents who really, truly have gone, or are about to go off the deep end. While we hope you will never have to face such opponents, the public officials who do have to face them probably did not plan on it either. Like you, they are just trying to do their duty; they’re just trying to accomplish their mission . . . In other words, they are trying to be responsible. These public officials wind up asking themselves: “Why are some folks all of a sudden coming unhinged? Why am I perceived as a public enemy? I’m just trying to do my job! What am I to do?!”
Dealing with “Over-My-Dead-Body” Opponents
In the mid-1980s, Sylvia Brucchi, who was Director of Public Affairs for the Northeast Regional Office of the US Forest Service, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, asked us to develop an advanced Consent-Building workshop. So, we designed the first CPO-2 course for a handful of managers who had not only taken the SDIC/CPO courses and learned our methods, but who also had successfully used our methods to diffuse controversies. Some of them, in fact, may have qualified as “Implementation Geniuses.” Sylvia – and the other students – asked for an opportunity to delve deeper into what can be done to do Consent-Building under particularly difficult circumstances. They were especially interested in exploring what public agencies can do when they find themselves not only up against opponents, but up against utterly, totally polarized opponents, what are often referred to as “Over-My-Dead-Body” opponents, including genuine domestic terrorists . . . i.e. opponents who will stop at nothing to get their way. Extremist opponents interested us as well. We felt that, after all, extremist situations ought to provide a really challenging laboratory to road-test our Consent-Building methods. Thus, we were, and are, every bit as interested in dealing with extremist opponents as the public officials who are confronted by them in their work. And, thus evolved this CPO-2 seminar. We have changed its name recently, emphasizing the terrorist/outlaw-aspect more. We did this because some of the public officials who have come to attend this course, have come with the idea that stubbornly entrenched opponents qualify as “extremists,” when realistically, they don’t! Dealing with opponents – including very stubborn opponents – is exactly what the “SDIC/CPO” courses are all about.
Then what is CPO-2 all about?
This course is NOT about stubborn opponents, it is about extremist opponents. This course is about working to change the behaviors and even perspectives of individuals who lie down in front of bulldozers, people who send pipe bombs to Congressmen. In this training, you will learn to deal with:
- People who feel the need to arm themselves against what they perceive to be an evil government conspiring to destroy their freedoms
- The group that prepares for their “Armageddon” with our government
- The mild-mannered, middle-class minister who shoots an abortion-clinic doctor, and feels no remorse
- A local sheriff who taunts the federal law enforcement officials to engage him in gun-play
- The disenchanted employee who, instead of filing a grievance, “goes Postal”
- The culturally mysterious religious sect that lives outside of cultural norms and often invites tension with government agencies
- People who feel any and all means are justified in their struggle to oppose your particular proposal or action
- Individuals who appeal to a “higher law” to justify violating the law
Accomplish Your Mission AND Diffuse Radical Opponents
This seminar, in other words, is about those of your opponents who really, truly have gone — or are about to go — off the deep end. While we hope you will never have to face such opponents, the public officials who do have to face them probably did not plan on it either. Like you, they are just trying to do their duty; they’re just doing, or proposing, what they feel has to be done to accomplish their mission . . . In other words, they are trying to be responsible. After all, that’s what “being responsible” means: “Getting the Job Done”, by accomplishing the mission. These public officials wind up asking themselves:
“Why are some folks all of a sudden coming unhinged? Why am I perceived as a public enemy? I’m just trying to do my job! What am I to do?!”
. . . That’s what the CPO-2 course is all about: i.e. figuring out what to do!
Under the Microscope
This seminar on “How to Deal with Domestic Terrorists and other Extremist Opponents to Legitimate Governmental Proposals and Actions” offers solutions, . . . but not gimmicks. There are no quick fixes. People who think they are quick fixes, gimmicks, or tricks that can resolve such diametric and vehement opposition should not get involved with projects that have extremist opponents. To understand what extremist behavior is all about — and what you can do about it — you’ll learn how to put two areas of your agency’s Problem-Solving and Decision-Making activities under the microscope: 1. Your Technical Problem-Solving Process, and 2. This society’s most relevant values, especially those values that define the relationship between Potentially Affected Interests (PAIs) and government. More specifically, you will revamp how well your planning and decision-making processes fulfill or violate our society’s relevant concepts of fairness, rights, responsibilities, limitations, limitations of rights, limitations of responsibility, power, authority, limitations of power . . . etc.
Extremist behavior invariably has to do with one or both of these two areas.
Depending how well you understand these two areas – how successfully you incorporate and communicate that understanding – in your interaction with your various publics, your actions can create polarization where none existed, or you can heal polarization that does exist.
The Technical Problem-Solving Process
Pilots who aspire to learn aerobatics, must first learn to fine-tune their regular flying skills to the point where they are constantly aspiring to perfection. They try to make every maneuver, every turn, every take-off, every landing in a perfectly coordinated manner. Most pilots not only perform these maneuvers with less than perfect coordination, most don’t even realize how poorly they execute these maneuvers. They don’t realize how sloppy their technique has become. While it’s okay if regular pilots, even commercial pilots, perform these maneuvers in a less-than-perfect manner, it’s NOT acceptable for pilots who want to learn aerobatics – or for other elite pilots – to have sloppy flying habits. Unless, and until they are willing to work on perfecting every single ordinary maneuver in their everyday routine, non-acrobatic flying, they really have not business thinking about being acrobatic pilots. Well, the same goes for professionals who aspire to deal with domestic terrorists and other extremists. Unless, and until they are willing to work on perfecting every single ordinary technical problem-solving step they have no business thinking of de-polarizing extremist opponents. After all, an agency that does a poor job of technical analysis for a controversial project is – for all intents and purposes – begging to be opposed. Such an agency is practically asking to be vetoed. They are their own worst enemies. Technical sloppiness creates ammunition for opponents! That is why you will spend about half of the time in this course fine-tuning your technical problem-solving process. You learn not only about all the minimum ingredients your technical analysis needs to have, you also learn about the most common errors agencies make in each of the technical problem-solving steps. You will learn to detect – and correct – all of the potential weak spots in your technical work. You’ll learn to systematically eliminate all your technical vulnerabilities. You’ll learn how not to create ammunition for your opponents.
The Role of Values
- in Creating Extremists, and
- in De-Polarizing Extremists
- You’ll spend the other half of your time looking at our society’s values through the microscope of conflict-resolution.You’ll zero-in on several particular sub-sets of American values:
- Values that determine the relationship between the individual and the government
- Values that determine individual rights, freedoms, and liberties
- Values that determine limitations of those rights
- Values that determine individual responsibilities
- Values that determine the relative sovereignty of individual values
Not are people’s values different from what they claim, but from what they themselves perceive them to be!
For you to really understand these values in a way that allows you to put that understanding to work in de-polarizing extremists, requires you to go beyond the touchy-feely, non-analytical approach that most people take to values. You’ll learn to examine, question, and dissect people’s values – both avowed and real – in a clinically unemotional, clear-minded, brutally honest manner . . . Much like a pathologist does an autopsy. You’ll learn to look for values, to probe and question assertions about values. As a result, you’ll discover that not only are people’s values often quite different from what they say they are, but often they’re also quite different from what they – themselves – thought they were.
You will become sensitized to American values in general, and specifically to those that determine “Fairness,” “Rights,” and “Responsibilities.”
When offenses are made, it is the Fairness-values, the Rights-values, and the Responsibility-values that have the greatest potential for creating extremist behavior. Ironically, they also have the greatest potential for healing, or stopping extremist behavior when fulfilled.
Domestic terrorists and other extremists are not born, they are created.
They invariably are created when they – rightly, or wrongly – perceive that some public official, some project team, or some agency is offending important Fairness-values, Rights-values, or Responsibility-values. Your best chance for becoming the healer – who can get extremists to change their polarized position and behavior – is for you to gain a profoundly deep understanding of the relevant Fairness-values, Rights-values, and Responsibility-values. If you and your fellow professionals in your agency are klutzes in this area, you’re dangerous. You’ll polarize interests who didn’t need to be polarized. On the other hand, if you have an uncommonly clear vision in the area of Fairness-values, Rights-values, and Responsibility-values, so clear that you’ll not easily be fooled when people assert phony values, you’ll not fall for it. Rather, you’ll (almost) look forward to the challenge of healing and de-polarizing extremist situations. What a resource such a person is in an organization with missions that require it to propose controversial stuff! We’ll do everything in our power to assist you in becoming that valuable resource . . . As we have invested most of our professional lives to systematizing the art and science of Consent-Building. We want you to learn and use what we have developed. After all, our real motive is to make government work better; to make agencies with important missions more effective, therefore, better at accomplishing those missions. It should not surprise you that probing, exploring, questioning, and dissecting values in a clinically unemotional manner – as we must in the CPO-2 course – can get pretty sensitive, even uncomfortable. You can’t really dissect “American” values without also dissecting some of your own personal values. Actually, that should not surprise you. After all, do you really expect to make any real progress on a topic as outrageously ambitious as “How to Deal with Domestic Terrorists and Other Extremists” without having to search our communal center? . . . And, therefore, your personal center? If you are not willing to explore, dissect, question – and talk about – your values as they relate to Fairness, Rights, and Responsibility,or if you have thin skin, the CPO-2 seminar may not be for you.
CPO-2 Topics Include
The Art and Science of Rational Decision-Making
Rigor in Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
- Minimum Ingredients of Technical Rigor
- Common Errors
- Six Decision-Points in Technical Problem-Solving Requiring Judgment
- Technical Ammunition for Vetoing a Project
The Role of Values
- Values: What are they?
- Values: How do we use them?
- Value: Why are they so important to us?
Conflict and Conflict-Resolution
- Conflict and Values
- Resolving Conflict that’s based on Misperceptions
- Resolving Conflict that’s based on Conflicting Values
Reality and Perception of Reality
Rigor in Decision-Making
- Value Complexity and Confusion
- Value Systems
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- the Bleiker Hierarchy of Values
Gamesmanship and Game
Democracy from Aristotle to Jefferson
- Jeffersonian Democracy
- Jeffersonian Concepts and You
- Creating Polarization
- Creating Polarization By Design
- Inadvertently Polarizing Interests
Resolving Polarized Conflict
A Strategy for Finding Common Ground
- Each Culture has its own Secret Map that can guide you
- Finding the Map . . . and Learning to Read the Map
- These Maps are Culture-Specific
Rules-of-Thumb Tactics for Finding Common Ground
- The Power of Empathy
- The Power of Light
- The Bleiker Survival Suit