Domestic Extremists in the United States
September 5, 2019Share:
By Charles Stonick
2018 was a banner year for extremists’ murders in the US.
In 2018 domestic extremists killed at least 50 people here, an increase of 35% over 2017 (37), but less than the totals for 2015 (70) and 2016 (72). It was the fourth-deadliest year for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Barely half over, 2019 has already surpassed 2018.
In 2018 the 17 incidents which resulted in the total of 50 murders were ALL linked to right-wing extremists, with White Supremacists committing the majority of those killings. Not surprisingly, mass shootings were the preferred mode of execution.
Domestic Terrorism Laws?
Perhaps the time has finally come for our government to address domestic terrorism. There are bi-partisan bills filed to do just that, but there is strong opposition to them from civil rights groups. The ACLU has already filed suit to block the application of 2015 USA Freedom Act-like provisions to US citizens. (Essentially it is the original post-9/11 Patriot Act).
The concern is that applying those authoritarian-like provisions to domestic organizations and American citizens would open a Pandora’s Box of civil liberty suppression by a government tempted to use them against political enemies. Be careful what you wish for.
Oh, surely not!
For instance, with the cry that we must do something about the extremism in our country, President Trump has proposed naming “Antifa” a terrorist organization, its participants terrorists and its supporters as “providing material support” to terrorists. Can a mainland version of Guantanamo be far behind?
Since right wing organizations are favorites of this administration it has named a left wing, loosely-federated group (that has never committed a murder, or even precipitated a serious injury) a terrorist organization.
Thus, the ACLU’s fears are well-founded.
But if draconian domestic terrorism laws aren’t desirable what can we do?
- Speak out against hate and extremism – particularly against the most dangerous extremists, the far right. Support development of domestic anti-terrorism research and organization tracking. Make your stand known to family and friends. Support legislation to reduce guns in America, particularly those capable of military-style rates of fire.
- Expand our dialogue between our civil society and the tech sector. Encourage development of guidelines (and perhaps regulation) in the use of the internet to inspire extremism. Support efforts to hold social media giants accountable for the irresponsible use of their platforms to recruit and radicalize Americans.
- Improve federal, state and local responses to hate crimes. Expand the existing hate crimes statutes to encompass all levels of government and hold officials accountable to their enforcement.
- Promote anti-bias and civics education in elementary and secondary schools. We see the results of our failure to instill American civil values and ideals in an entire generation. Support your school officials in restoring civics education in your town or community.