The FBI now considers white supremacy and ideologically-motivated violence to be a “national threat priority” – the same level of threat as ISIS. There are now as many American terrorists as “radical Islamic terrorists,” and the terrorist next door poses a greater immediate threat to our national security. Because this American violence is often perpetrated by lone-wolf radicals who are radicalized rapidly through on-line propaganda, it is very difficult to prevent.
The FBI targets only the violence of hate crimes, not the ideology. Yet, the only way to counter hate crimes is to counter hate before it turns into violence. Trump and his administration have aided hate mongers by canceling funding for Obama-era programs that fight violent radicalism and drastically cutting the federal task force for Countering Violent Extremism. Instead, Trump has pushed for travel bans on Islamists, fervently painted “radical Islamic terrorism” as the most significant danger to Americans, claimed there are “fine people on both sides” of a neo-Nazi protest, brought white nationalists into his administration, and used anger, violence and dehumanizing his opponents to manipulate voters. He has incited hostility and agitation in his supporters and even provoked violence at his road shows.
Between 2008 and 2016, plots and attacks by right-wing terrorists—including white supremacists, militias, and sovereign citizens movements—actually outnumbered Islamist plots and attacks by a ratio of 2 to 1. Despite intelligence agency efforts, Trump ignores domestic terrorism to hype potential immigrant terrorism because he thinks it is a better fear tactic based on tribalism.
We need to oppose hateful ideology, speech and actions whenever we encounter them. Stereotyping, discrimination and bigotry are learned, not innate. Tribalism may have started as a survival mechanism when we needed our tribe for survival. It is no longer helpful unless you consider all of humanity your tribe. To eliminate violence, we must change our culture and the normalization of violence from the top down. If we make it clear that violence, bigotry, stereotyping, and hateful ideology are unacceptable, they will eventually decrease. That will require all of us to speak up.