Back in 2009 I wrote ablog post about a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security to federal, state and local law enforcement regarding the threat of terrorism from right-wing extremists groups. And I wrote about how “conservatives” threw a fit about the report and called it a political hit job. See “Malkin et al. Admit That ‘Conservatives’ Are Right-Wing Extremists and Potential Terrorists.”
Under pressure from conservatives, in a few months DHS repudiated the report. The chief author of the report no longer works at DHS.
Now the New York Times is running a major story called U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It. The truth is, they were warned.
This is from the NY Times story:
According to a recent report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center, between 2002 and 2017, the United States spent $2.8 trillion — 15 percent of discretionary spending — on counterterrorism. Terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists killed 100 people in the United States during that time. Between 2008 and 2017, domestic extremists killed 387 in the United States, according to the 2018 Anti-Defamation League report.
“We’re actually seeing all the same phenomena of what was happening with groups like ISIS, same tactics, but no one talks about it because it’s far-right extremism,” says the national-security strategist P.W. Singer, a senior fellow at the New America think tank. During the first year of the Trump administration, Singer and a colleague met with a group of senior administration officials about building a counterterrorism strategy that encompassed a wider range of threats. “They only wanted to talk about Muslim extremism,” he says. But even before the Trump administration, he says, “we willingly turned the other way on white supremacy because there were real political costs to talking about white supremacy.”
It’s not just white nationalists. One of the women-hating he-man club members shot up a yoga studio and killed two women this weekend. There is a well documented connection between what appear to be random mass shootings and a history of domestic violence by men against women. And abortion clinic violence continues to be swept under the rug.
What’s to be done? First, law-enforcement experts say that right-wing extremists should be treated just like ISIS.
Far-right extremists have killed more people since 9/11 than any other category of domestic terrorism.
* 71% of extremist-related deaths between 2008 and 2017 were committed by members of a far-right movement, while Islamic extremists were responsible for 26%, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
* Between 2002 and 2017, the U.S. spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism. In that time frame, terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists killed 100 people in the U.S.
* Between 2008 and 2017, meanwhile, domestic extremists killed 387 people.
Law enforcement has been ill-equipped to identify and deal with the threat in part because white male anger in defense of traditional power structures is considered normative in America, in part because law enforcement has long been infiltrated by white supremacists who defend their own, and in part because of a considered and explicit effort by the conservative political movement to prevent federal law enforcement for doing so–including by scuttling a landmark government report on the problem. Indeed, the Trump administration is shutting down an Obama-era program to counter threats of domestic terrorism even as it wields xenophobia to focus on the far less dangerous threat of attacks by foreign agents.
Here’s the hard part:
But all of this raises a terrifying question: if this horrific wave of right-wing terror is rising when these deplorable men are at the height of their political power, what happens when even that power is wrested from their control? What happens when several more years of natural demographic changes replace conservative boomers with progressive millennials and rural whites with urban and suburban diverse communities? When Democrats regain the White House, Congress and many state governments in a census year, eliminating many of the “structural advantages” conservatives have put in place to gerrymander districts and implement restrictive voting laws?
What happens when these hateful men discover that even politically, the country is finally irrevocably lost to them? What kind of asymmetric violence and terrorist insurgencies will we see from them when they don’t just feel disempowered despite all their power and privilege, but actually do find themselves truly out of power?
And the next question is, what will we do about it? As a people and as a nation? How far are we willing to go? What will we be willing to do?