White nationalism, populism, and domestic terrorism

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The OK sign is becoming an alt-right symbol

April 2021
Identifying and exploiting the weaknesses of the white supremacist movement
Daniel L. Byman and Mark Pitcavage
Executive Summary
(Brookings) White supremacists have been a leading source of terrorist violence in the United States in the last decade, responsible for 40 plots or attacks from 2011 to 2020. We argue that the threat is dangerous but also that the white supremacist movement as a whole has many weaknesses, some of which can be exploited. In contrast to jihadist groups like al-Qaida at its peak, American white supremacists lack a haven from which to operate; their international ties are also weaker than those of jihadist organizations. The white supremacist movement is also highly divided, and members disagree as to who their primary enemies are and how they should attack them. In addition, they enjoy little public support, and their violence usually backfires, making the movement less popular.
Overall, the movement’s capabilities are low, unable to match its grandiose ambitions. These weaknesses hinder recruitment and operations, make movement members vulnerable to prosecution and disruption, and otherwise limit their strength. Many of these weaknesses stem from existing counterterrorism and civil society pressure; continued and at times increased efforts by government, technology companies, and civil society officials is vital. Political leaders of both parties must also consistently condemn white supremacy, ensuring that the movement remains marginalized.  Full report (PDF)

Heather Cox Richardson March 24, 2021
Last night, federal prosecutors filed a motion revealing that a leader of the paramilitary group the
Oath Keepers claimed to be coordinating with the Proud Boys and another far-right group before the January 6 insurrection.
After former President Donald Trump tweeted that his supporters should travel to Washington, D.C., on January 6 for a rally that “will be wild!,” Kelly Meggs, a member of the Oath Keepers, wrote on Facebook: “He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your s***!!”
In a series of messages, Meggs went on to make plans with another individual for an attack on the process of counting the electoral votes. On December 25, Meggs told his correspondent that “Trumps staying in, he’s Gonna use the emergency broadcast system on cell phones to broadcast to the American people. Then he will claim the insurrection act…. Then wait for the 6th when we are all in DC to insurrection.”

23 March
Tim Scott: Let’s set the record straight on ‘woke supremacy’ and racism
Woke culture is speeding our country toward ideological and literal segregation. Already, Columbia University has decided to host segregated graduation celebrations based on race or socioeconomic status. We are living in a society that has allowed “autonomous zones” that effectively prohibit law enforcement from protecting people from crime, and campus “safe spaces” to protect students from others’ opinions.
Carving out public spaces for people of only one race or mind-set? Since when is separate but equal back in vogue?
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
When you give license for one person or group of people to discriminate, you give license for everyone to discriminate. Dividing society along racial lines is everything leaders in the civil rights era fought against, yet leaders of the woke movement are attempting to codify discrimination in law, including by Democrats setting aside funding exclusively for non-White farmers in their recent stimulus package. Blood wasn’t shed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or the streets of Birmingham so that we could reinvent the mistakes of our past.

19 March
The Enduring Populist Threat
Sergei Guriev , Elias Papaioannou
(Project Syndicate) If anti-elitism is a pillar of modern populism, it should be no surprise that populists have come to power at a time of soaring income and wealth inequality. But the “them” versus “us” populist narrative does not capture merely a conflict between haves and have-nots.
It has a lot of momentum, growing in strength in the advanced economies since the turn of the century, and receiving a major boost from the 2008 global financial crisis. But it was in 2016 – with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, followed by Trump’s electoral victory in the United States – that populism began to dominate western political discourse.
…after 2016, support for populists across Europe went into overdrive. While the National Front’s Marine Le Pen lost France’s 2017 presidential election, she made it to the second-round runoff against Emmanuel Macron. Later that year, the far-right Alternative for Germany won 12.6% of the vote in federal elections and entered the Bundestag for the first time, with 94 seats. The AfD – which Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is now moving to investigate as a possible threat to democracy – remains the country’s leading opposition party. Far-right parties are now the second and third largest in Finland and Sweden, respectively.
Confronting Violence Against Asians, Biden Says That ‘We Cannot Be Complicit’
Vice President Kamala Harris joined the president in forcefully condemning the killings in Atlanta. “Racism is real in America, and it has always been,” she said.
(NYT) The gruesome shootings on Tuesday in Atlanta thrust Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris into the middle of a national struggle to confront the harassment and violence against Asian-Americans from people angry about the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than a half-million people.
“They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed,” Mr. Biden lamented after a meeting with leaders of Atlanta’s Asian-American community that he described as heart-wrenching to be part of.
The Atlanta Shooting and the Dehumanizing of Asian Women
(The New Yorker) To live through this period as an Asian-American is to feel trapped in an American tragedy while being denied the legitimacy of being an American.
The Flattening of the Atlanta Shootings
By Melissa Jeltsen
(New York) As much as we can ever know the truth about any person’s motivation for violence, the Atlanta shooting likely stemmed from a toxic stew of racism, misogyny, prejudice against sex workers, religious beliefs, and mental illness.
I’ve spent years writing about mass shootings, specifically cases in which women are the victims. While perpetrators are driven by different stressors and motivations, many share a feeling of being unfairly wronged by the world. Instead of taking responsibility for the ways in which their lives failed to meet their expectations, they blame others, whether it’s a particular person, an ethnic group, or the government. In their eyes, the violence they commit is justified, since they are righting a perceived wrong. It’s a distorted and dangerous sense of entitlement.
Heather Cox Richardson March 19, 2021
The danger of the Big Lie—the false idea that Trump actually won the 2020 election– was always that it would convince Trump supporters to fight for him not because they thought they would be fighting to overturn the U.S. government, but because they thought they would be defending it. If, indeed, the election were stolen from the former president by the radical socialists of whom he warned, it would be the part of heroism to rally to protect our system.
Large Majority of the Public Views Prosecution of Capitol Rioters as ‘Very Important’
Similar shares of Americans view violent right-wing extremism, left-wing extremism as ‘major problems’ for the country
(Pew Research) As the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies continue to pursue charges against participants in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the American public generally expresses strong support for continuing these efforts. Yet there are sizable partisan differences in attitudes about the riot at the Capitol, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to view prosecution of the rioters as very important and to say that penalties for the rioters are likely to be less severe than they should be.
18 March
Why is it so hard for America to designate domestic terrorism and hate crimes?
Rashawn Ray
(Brookings) … It should not take domestic terrorists writing white supremacist manifestos, like those of Roof and Crusius, in order for us to classify their behavior as hate crimes. It is not enough for people to only be convicted of murder. They should also be convicted of hate crimes or we will continue to see everyday, mundane acts of racism spill over into larger acts of domestic terrorism.
Roughly 75% of domestic terrorist acts are committed by right-wing extremists and 75% of them are committed by white nationalists and white supremacists. Domestic terrorism is so concerning that the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security have classified domestic violent extremism to be the biggest threat for mass violence in the United States. But in order for us to recognize these acts as hate crimes, we have to ensure that racist perspectives are not brushed aside as normal. We also have to change statutes.
17 March
Racist ‘extremists’ most dangerous: US intelligence report
A joint report by several branches of the United States intelligence community concludes “that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” are the “most likely to conduct mass-casualty” attacks against civilians.
Alongside racially-motivated violence, militia violence “present the most lethal [domestic violent extremism] threat” to “law enforcement and government personnel and facilities”.
Report conducted by FBI, CIA and others finds racially-motivated violence the most deadly threat to US civilians.
The report concluded that “escalating support from persons in the United States or abroad, growing perceptions of government overreach related to legal or policy changes and disruptions, and high-profile attacks spurring follow-on attacks” could cause the threat of violence to increase in 2021 and beyond.

3 February
Opinion: Every new piece of information about the Capitol insurrection shows why we can’t just move on
(WaPo Editorial Board) Federal officials have estimated that roughly 800 people stormed into the Capitol, and so far, more than 135 individuals have been charged. Prosecutors, The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu reported, are privately debating whether they should decline to charge those who are known only to have committed unlawful entry and were not engaged in violent or destructive behavior. Maybe, but there must be thorough investigation and forceful prosecution that send the message that such vile political violence will not be tolerated.
The FBI investigation, the most extensive since the probe of the 9/11 attack, has found evidence detailing coordination of an assault by members of extremist groups, but how extensive is still unknown. Also to be determined is whether any member of Congress helped to directly facilitate the assault, other than by fomenting it with false and irresponsible statements about election fraud.

1 February
Dems deliver GOP ultimatum over Marjorie Taylor Greene
They’re moving to strip the controversial Republican of her committee assignments.
(Politico) The Democrats’ move, while highly unusual, comes amid intense fury within the Democratic Caucus over Greene’s long record of incendiary rhetoric, including peddling conspiracy theories that the nation’s deadliest mass shootings were staged. Greene also endorsed violence against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats before she was elected to Congress.
… Greene has shown zero contrition for her past actions, tweeting over the weekend that she will “never apologize.” She also took a jab at [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer on Twitter Monday and revealed plans to travel to Florida “soon” to meet with former President Donald Trump, who she said supports her “100 percent.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene: I’m meeting with Trump ‘soon’

29 January
Checked by reality, some QAnon supporters seek a way out
(AP) QAnon supporters will respond in different ways as reality undermines their beliefs, according to Ziv Cohen, a forensic psychiatrist and expert on extremist beliefs at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
Those who only dabbled in the conspiracy theory may shrug and move on, Cohen said. At the other extreme, more militant believers may migrate to radical anti-government groups and plot potentially violent crimes. Indeed, some QAnon believers have already done so.
In the middle, he said, are those who looked to QAnon “to help them make sense of the world, to help them feel a sense of control.” These people may revise QAnon’s elastic narrative to fit reality, rather than face up to being hoodwinked.

28 January
Heather Cox Richardson: January 28, 2021
News broke yesterday that extremists began planning for an attack on the Capitol in November. The Alabama Political Reporter broke the story on Tuesday that new Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) met on January 5 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., with the then-director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, an organization that backed the January 6 rally, and with members of the Trump family and the family’s advisors, including Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. One of the attendees wrote on Facebook that he was standing “in the private residence of the President at Trump International with the following patriots who are joining me in a battle for justice and truth.”
Former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier noted yesterday in the New York Times that the United States is facing a violent insurgency and should apply the lessons we have learned about counterinsurgency to head off political violence.
How to Defeat America’s Homegrown Insurgency
We don’t need new laws. We need law enforcement, accountability and a willingness to listen.

27 January
Extremists Emboldened by Capitol Attack Pose Rising Threat, Homeland Security Says
(NYT) The warning contained in a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” was a notable departure for a Department of Homeland Security [DHS] accused of being reluctant during the Trump administration to publish intelligence reports or public warnings about the dangers posed by domestic extremists and white supremacist groups.
The DHS does not have information indicating a “specific, credible plot,” according to a statement from the agency. The alert issued was categorized as one warning of developing trends in terrorism, rather than a notice of an imminent attack.

21 January
QAnon believers are in disarray after Biden is inaugurated
(CNN Business) For years, believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory had been waiting for the moment when a grand plan would be put into action and secret members of a supposed Satanic pedophilia ring at the highest ranks of government and Hollywood would suddenly be exposed, rounded up and possibly even publicly executed. They were nearly always sure it was right around the corner, but “The Storm” never came — and the moment of Joe Biden’s inauguration was the last possible opportunity for President Donald Trump to put the plan in motion.
But as Biden raised his hand and swore an oath to defend the Constitution, becoming the nation’s 46th president — nothing happened.
The anti-climax sent QAnon adherents into a frenzy of confusion and disbelief, almost instantly shattering a collective delusion that had been nurtured and amplified by many on the far right. Now, in addition to being scattered to various smaller websites after Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) cracked down on QAnon-related content, believers risked having their own topsy-turvy world turned upside down, or perhaps right-side up.

16 January
Heather Cox Richardson: January 16, 2021
Since right-wing insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on January 6 with the vague but violent idea of taking over the government, observers are paying renewed attention to the threat of right-wing violence in our midst.
Right-wing terrorism in American has very deep roots, and those roots have grown since the 1990s as Republican rhetorical attacks on the federal government have fed them. The January 6 assault on the Capitol is not an aberration. It has been coming for a very long time.

15 January
White supremacist terrorism: Key trends to watch in 2021
As new crises emerge, we should expect the white supremacist movement to shift with it.
(Brookings) The January 6 Capitol protests that became an insurrection painfully highlighted how the white supremacist movement is intermingled with anti-government extremists, conspiracy theorists, partisans of President Trump, and other causes. White supremacist terrorism has long proven a major threat, … [and]  has steadily globalized, and this trend continues to accelerate. Believers in the “Great Replacement,” a prominent idea in the white supremacist ecosystem, contend that the United States, Europe, and other “white” countries are being reverse-colonized, with Black, Hispanic, Arab, and other immigrants diluting the white world. The idea emerged in France and has spread among white supremacists around the world.
…the white supremacist agenda is incredibly diffuse — a weakness as well as a danger. The bad news is that white supremacists target not only traditional enemies like Jews and Blacks, but also Muslims, Hispanics, leftists, the LGBTQ+ community, and other supposed enemies of whites — few are safe. The white supremacist agenda has also bled over into a broader anti-government agenda embraced by militias and movements like the boogaloo bois, creating a mix of individuals and small groups that overlap but seldom match: Some white supremacists are also anti-government and vice-versa, but there are many anti-government groups that share little or none of the white supremacist agenda. In addition to hindering groups from getting a critical mass of supporters, this diffusion increases divisions within the movement and creates a coalition of minority groups, each with a vested interest in stopping white supremacists. …
Given the global nature of the movement, it is necessary for the United States to work with its allies around the world to prevent groups and cells from helping each other, an approach the United States has done successfully against jihadist organizations, although the specifics will be different in practice. Designating more white supremacist organizations active overseas as terrorist groups would be another useful step.
Finally, the zeitgeist may also change. Allowing more Muslim immigration, imposing COVID-19 restrictions, and other policy changes are likely to affect which issues — and which enemies — white supremacists prioritize. A widespread sense, encouraged by President Trump, that the 2020 election results are illegitimate may lead to an even greater anti-government focus (or perhaps anger against Hispanics and Blacks who “illegally” voted) even after the election is behind America.

Among the Insurrectionists
The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold.
By Luke Mogelson
(The New Yorker) There was an eerie sense of inexorability, the throngs of Trump supporters advancing up the long lawn as if pulled by a current. Everyone seemed to understand what was about to happen. The past nine weeks had been steadily building toward this moment. On November 7th, mere hours after Biden’s win was projected, I attended a protest at the Pennsylvania state capitol, in Harrisburg. Hundreds of Trump supporters, including heavily armed militia members, vowed to revolt. When I asked a man with an assault rifle—a “combat-skills instructor” for a militia called the Pennsylvania Three Percent—how likely he considered the prospect of civil conflict, he told me, “It’s coming.”
Since then, Trump and his allies had done everything they could to spread and intensify this bitter aggrievement. On December 5th, Trump acknowledged, “I’ve probably worked harder in the last three weeks than I ever have in my life.” (He was not talking about managing the pandemic, which since the election has claimed a hundred and fifty thousand American lives.) Militant pro-Trump outfits like the Proud Boys—a national organization dedicated to “reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism” in America—had been openly gearing up for major violence. In early January, on Parler, an unfiltered social-media site favored by conservatives, Joe Biggs, a top Proud Boys leader, had written, “Every law makers who breaks their own stupid Fucking laws should be dragged out of office and hung.”

2020

White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots
A long-overdue excavation of the book that Hitler called his “bible,” and the man who wrote it
(The Atlantic Magazine) Americans want to believe that the surge in white-supremacist violence and recruitment—the march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us”; the hate crimes whose perpetrators invoke the president’s name as a battle cry—has no roots in U.S. soil, that it is racist zealotry with a foreign pedigree and marginal allure.
The concept of “white genocide”—extinction under an onslaught of genetically or culturally inferior nonwhite interlopers—may indeed seem like a fringe conspiracy theory with an alien lineage, the province of neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers. In popular memory, it’s a vestige of a racist ideology that the Greatest Generation did its best to scour from the Earth. History, though, tells a different story. King’s recent question, posed in a New York Times interview, may be appalling: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” But it is apt. “That language” has an American past in need of excavation. Without such an effort, we may fail to appreciate the tenacity of the dogma it expresses, and the difficulty of eradicating it. (April 2019)

This Is Your Brain on Nationalism
The Biology of Us and Them
(Foreign Affairs March/April 2019) Put simply, neurobiology, endocrinology, and developmental psychology all paint a grim picture of our lives as social beings. When it comes to group belonging, humans don’t seem too far from the families of chimps killing each other in the forests of Uganda: people’s most fundamental allegiance is to the familiar. Anything or anyone else is likely to be met, at least initially, with a measure of skepticism, fear, or hostility. In practice, humans can second-guess and tame their aggressive tendencies toward the Other. Yet doing so is usually a secondary, corrective step.
To understand the dynamics of human group identity, including the resurgence of nationalism—that potentially most destructive form of in-group bias—requires grasping the biological and cognitive underpinnings that shape them.
… The human mind’s propensity for us-versus-them thinking runs deep. Numerous careful studies have shown that the brain makes such distinctions automatically and with mind-boggling speed. Stick a volunteer in a brain scanner and quickly flash pictures of faces. Among typical white subjects in the scanner, the sight of a black man’s face activates the amygdala, a brain region central to emotions of fear and aggression, in under one-tenth of a second. In most cases, the prefrontal cortex, a region crucial for impulse control and emotional regulation, springs into action a second or two later and silences the amygdala: “Don’t think that way, that’s not who I am.” Still, the initial reaction is usually one of fear, even among those who know better.
This finding is no outlier. Looking at the face of someone of the same race activates a specialized part of the primate brain called the fusiform cortex, which recognizes faces, but it is activated less so when the face in question is that of someone of another race.

24 October
Far-Right Groups Are Behind Most U.S. Terrorist Attacks, Report Finds
White supremacist groups have carried out a majority of “terrorist plots and attacks” this year, according to a report by a think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies
The report, published Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, found that white supremacist groups were responsible for 41 of 61 “terrorist plots and attacks” in the first eight months of this year, or 67 percent.
The finding comes about two weeks after an annual assessment by the Department of Homeland Security warned that violent white supremacy was the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland” and that white supremacists were the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years.

22 October
Right-wing extremism: The new wave of global terrorism
Right-wing extremism is of such concern that when the top international security policy-makers met at the 2019 Munich Security Conference, they ranked it among space security, climate security and emerging technologies as the top global security threats.It would appear as though the world is at the dawn of a new age of terrorism that’s different from before. Famed terrorism researcher David C. Rapoport argued in his influential thesis “The Four Waves of Rebel Terror and September 11” that modern terrorism can be categorized into four distinct waves.
(The Conversation) The FBI recently briefed U.S. senators on the evolving concern of domestic violent extremists, groups whose ideological goals to commit violence stem from domestic influences such as social movements like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and government policies.
The composition of many of these organizations are right-wing terror groups whose grievances are rooted in racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ sentiments, Islamophobia and perceptions of government overreach. Given the wide range of grievances, these groups are defined as being complex, with overlapping viewpoints from similarly minded individuals advocating different but related ideologies.
Feminist researchers believe the rise of disenfranchised middle-class white males is leading to increased toxic masculinity within society, as evidenced by the increased popularity of the so-called manosphere to share extremist ideas and vent their grievances. Law enforcement agencies are concerned that the manosphere and similar online communities are radicalizing young men to commit violence to achieve their goals.
This concern is valid, with plenty of evidence to support it.
According to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, there were 310 terrorist attacks resulting in 316 deaths (excluding perpetrators) in the United States alone from 2015 to 2019.
Most were right-wing extremists, including white nationalists and other alt-right movement members. This alt-right movement also contains the incel (involuntary celibate) members who are a growing threat to women.

19 September
Nicholas Kristof: Antifa Conspiracy Theories and America’s Unraveling
Baseless rumors about wildfires in the West are a sign of danger ahead
I’ve seen militias set up armed checkpoints in countries like Yemen and Sudan, but I never expected to see them in my beloved home state. In Multnomah County, the sheriff warned that people could be arrested for setting up illegal checkpoints, and on Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies issued criminal citations to three men for establishing a roadblock. This is an echo of something I wrote about in June: a hysteria in rural towns that they were about to be attacked by antifa, leading citizens to pull out their guns and gather to fight back.

19 August
Conservative Scholar: The Real Racists Are People Who Call Trump Racist
(New York) Conservatives are permitted to concede some flaws here and there in Donald Trump’s job performance without risking their good standing in the movement
But acknowledging Trump’s racism is almost verboten. If Trump is a racist, then the party’s voting base is also racist, and its elected officials are complicit in the country’s founding evil.
Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald comes to the president’s defense in a new Wall Street Journal op-ed (“Trump Isn’t the One Dividing Us by Race”). Mac Donald has devoted her career to the proposition that anti-white racism is a far more serious problem than anti-black racism, and her latest effort represents the state of the art in Trumpian racial apologetics.

18 August
Why we should remember 1619
Enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown. Their descendants have led the fight for freedom
By Amanda Brickell Bellows, lecturer in the history department at The New School. Her first book, “American Slavery and Russian Serfdom in the Post-Emancipation Imagination,” will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2020.
(WaPo) Four hundred years ago, the first Africans set foot on mainland English America.
On this anniversary, we should acknowledge slavery’s deep roots and recognize the significant role that captive and free African Americans have played in building the United States of today. During the nation’s earliest days, economics and racism intersected to launch the insidious institution that would bring fortune and privilege to some and inequality, violence and death to others. As enslaved laborers, African Americans’ backbreaking work supported colonial economic growth and enriched slave traders, merchants and their owners. Striving for freedom, African Americans fought for emancipation and the abolition of slavery. During Reconstruction and the civil rights movement, they secured significant constitutional and legislative changes that expanded rights for all Americans, a struggle that continues today.

14 August
Trump and racism: What do the data say?
(Brookings) The Brookings Cafeteria podcast last week discussed the role President Trump’s racist rhetoric has played in encouraging violence in America. Predictably, some podcast listeners responded skeptically on Twitter, doubting the association between Trump and hateful behavior. It would be naïve to think that data will change many individuals’ minds on this topic, but nonetheless, there is substantial evidence that Trump has encouraged racism and benefitted politically from it.
First, Donald Trump’s support in the 2016 campaign was clearly driven by racism, sexism, and xenophobia. While some observers have explained Trump’s success as a result of economic anxiety, the data demonstrate that anti-immigrant sentiment, racism, and sexism are much more strongly related to support for Trump. Trump’s much-discussed vote advantage with non-college-educated whites is misleading; when accounting for racism and sexism, the education gap among whites in the 2016 election returns to the typical levels of previous elections since 2000. Trump did not do especially well with non-college-educated whites, compared to other Republicans. He did especially well with white people who express sexist views about women and who deny racism exists.

13 August
Schumer to ask Trump to redirect $5 billion in wall funding to gun initiatives
In a bid to keep pressure on the White House to respond to mass shootings, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is preparing to ask that President Trump withdraw a request for $5 billion in border wall funding and redirect the money toward programs that aim to reduce gun violence and white supremacist extremism.
While it’s highly unlikely that Trump will retreat from efforts to fund his long-promised border wall, the move by Schumer (D-N.Y.) is designed to keep a focus on the Republican response to the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
The dual scourges of gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism in this country are a national security threat plain and simple, and it’s time the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress starting treating them as such,” Schumer said in a statement.
El Paso attack upends white nationalist normalization plan
Two years ago, America’s white nationalist movement stunned the country. Neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, had turned deadly when a far-right protester drove a car through a crowd, killing one and injuring dozens. Some movement leaders regrouped. Instead of stoking outrage, they set out to build support with another tack: Looking normal.
The larger goal was what many white nationalists call “Phase 2” — gaining mainstream acceptance for far-right ideas widely rejected as repugnant and getting white nationalists into positions of influence. The normalization effort included softened rhetoric and social gatherings that, for many groups, would increasingly replace confrontational rallies.
… The El Paso attack has also put new pressure on a man some white nationalists praise as helping advance their movement: Donald Trump. The U.S. president has come under sustained criticism for his racially incendiary rhetoric since launching his candidacy in 2015 — including his repeated use of the word “invasion” to describe immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.
… After Charlottesville, the lie-low approach was seen as a necessity by some in the movement. Many white nationalist groups were sued and lost access to social media, which has caused them to avoid public confrontations, said Heidi Beirich, who studies far-right groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization that tracks extremists.
A Reuters photojournalist has observed the [normalization] approach up close — at a children’s nursery in a “church” run by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK); a restaurant-and-bar that caters to white supremacists in Georgia; a barbecue held in Arkansas by the ShieldWall Network, a self-avowed neo-Nazi group with dozens of members. Even as they described their hopes of mainstreaming, many members of these and other groups also voiced the violent tropes that animate the movement.
One is the so-called Great Replacement conspiracy theory, common in white nationalist circles, which holds that leftist elites are engineering the replacement of white majorities globally through policies that encourage mass migrations as white birth rates decline. The manifesto tied to the El Paso shooting referenced the replacement theory in explaining why the shooter chose to kill Hispanic people.

9 August
An Alarming Weekend of White-Nationalist Activity
(New York) Following the shooting at an El Paso Walmart that left 22 people dead last weekend, the nation renewed its focus on the threat of white supremacy. While, thankfully, there were no additional large-scale incidents in the U.S., multiple reports in recent days have underscored the serious threat posed by white nationalist violence.
Despite the rise of white-nationalist violence in the United States — anticipated by the Department of Homeland Security as early as 2009 — the DHS and the Trump administration have failed to make countering acts driven by the ideology a priority. (Its rhetoric, repeated by the president close to habitually at this point, is another matter entirely.) In an interview on Meet the Press on Sunday, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan said that domestic terrorism of the sort was now becoming a priority “for the first time.” But according to two sources within the administration who spoke with the New York Times, DHS officials feel that they cannot address topics of domestic terrorism and white-supremacist violence with Trump because he’s not interested.

8 August
We worked to defeat the Islamic State. White nationalist terrorism is an equal threat.
Brookings President John R. Allen and Brett McGurk both served as special presidential envoys leading the U.S. global campaign against the Islamic State. They argue that the scourge of white nationalist terrorism today, as evidenced by recent mass shootings, has become a national security emergency on par with the ISIS threat and should be treated as such.
(Opinion WaPo) The United States now faces a new national security threat. The enemy is not the Islamic State but domestic and homegrown white nationalist terrorism. And “terrorism” is the term that must be used. The strain of thought driving this terrorism is now a global phenomenon, with mass atrocities in Norway, New Zealand, South Carolina and also, law enforcement authorities suspect, El Paso. The attacks are cheered on by adherents in dark (but readily accessible) corners of the Internet. The terrorist acts may differ from Islamic State attacks in degree, but they are similar in kind: driven by hateful narratives, dehumanization, the rationalization of violence and the glorification of murder, combined with ready access to recruits and weapons of war.
The first step to overcoming this dangerous strain of violence is to speak clearly and without equivocation. It is terrorism directed at innocent American civilians. If the Islamic State or al-Qaeda were committing such acts, the nation would mobilize as one to overcome it. The U.S. government would deploy all legal means at its disposal to root out the facilitators of violence and protect the American people from further harm. The United States would speak with a clear voice and lead the world in a determined response, strengthening alliances and sharing information with its allies. Unfortunately, when it comes to white nationalist terrorism, President Trump speaks with equivocation, and his rhetoric, wittingly or not, has the effect of providing cover for extremists who excuse their actions in the language of political grievance.
Why free speech makes it difficult to prosecute white supremacy in America

State Department worker outed by civil rights group as a white nationalist placed on leave
Matthew Q. Gebert was part of a cell called The Right Stuff in Northern Virginia, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
(NBC) A State Department official whom a civil rights group outed as an alleged white nationalist had been placed on leave, sources said Thursday.
The news about Matthew Q. Gebert, 38, came a day after researchers from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch program revealed he allegedly used the pseudonym “Coach Finstock” on white nationalist forums and hosted parties at his Virginia home for like-minded individuals.
The two U.S. officials familiar with Gebert’s situation who confirmed to NBC News that he is on leave declined to say when he left his desk or speculate on when, or if, he might return.

6 August
What Is the Great Replacement?
The Paris-based author Thomas Chatterton Williams discusses the French origins of the conspiracy theory mentioned in the El Paso manifesto.
(NYT) On Saturday, a gunman opened fired in a Walmart store in El Paso, killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others.
The authorities said the suspect, Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white man, wrote a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto that appeared online minutes before the massacre. Echoing the man accused of fatally shooting dozens of people at two mosques in New Zealand in March, the El Paso gunman’s manifesto mentioned the “great replacement,” a conspiracy theory that warns of white genocide.
The man often said to be behind the great replacement theory is Renaud Camus, a French writer who in 2017 was profiled by Thomas Chatterton Williams, a journalist and author who has written extensively about race.
… “The great replacement is very simple,” Mr. Camus has said. “You have one people, and in the space of a generation you have a different people.” He also stresses that the specific identity of the new population is less important than the act of replacement itself. This lets him claim that he would be equally devastated if the Japanese were to be replaced by the Chinese. The idea is not new, though. Charles de Gaulle and Enoch Powell, the right-wing British politician, both famously and publicly fretted over reverse colonization. What Mr. Camus did was to take a familiar concept and rebrand it in a catchy way.

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