We can’t ignore the rise of homegrown hate and domestic terrorism
Wed, Aug 10, 2016 @ 4:37 pm | updated Wed, Aug 10, 2016 @ 4:49 pm
It can be the unpopular security guard influenced by a radical interpretation of Islam like Omar Mateen.
It can be a loner influenced by white supremacist propaganda like Dylann Roof.
It can an anti-abortion extremist like Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber.
It can be the anti-government militiaman like Timothy McVeigh.
It’s important for the nation to go after all of those who threaten the nation’s public safety.
During a recent hearing held by a U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee, it became clear that many Americans are letting ideology blind them.
Those with liberal leanings are focused on the anti-government extremists.
Conservatives are focused on those with radical interpretations of the Quran.
Each side has legitimate concerns.
Sen. Ted Cruz, chair of the subcommittee, was concerned that the Obama administration seemed to be scrubbing all mention of ISIS and “Islamic terrorism” from public documents. He portrayed this as “Orwellian double speak.”
Of course, the ideology of the terrorists do not represent the vast majority of Muslims, but it must be admitted that these extremists are wrapping themselves in the cloak of the Quran. Make the distinction, but don’t censor it either.
“We cannot combat and defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists and directing our resources to stopping it,” Cruz said.
Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, testified that denial of radical Islam only emboldens extremists.
There is a battle within Islam between those who believe in the separation of mosque and state and others who believe that Islam should run the state.
Jasser’s group supports the idea that Muslims are best able to practice their faith in a society in which government does not interfere.
Terrorism is a means of establishing an Islamic state.
“Our mission is on the front lines of what is probably the most essential and yet contentious debate of the 21st century,” Jasser told the committee.
A focus on Islamic terrorism should not blind Americans to the extremists in our midst:
- Domestic extremists have murdered police officers.
- Domestic extremists refuse to accept the legitimacy of the government, the “sovereign citizens.”
- Domestic extremists use force to oppose government regulation of public lands rather than use the political system.
- Domestic extremists use ideology that often is based on Nazi symbols, racist and anti-Semitic beliefs and white supremacy.
These groups have multiplied during recent years and reached record levels during the Obama presidency, said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, during the hearing.
The number of hate groups nearly doubled from 1999 to 2008.
The number of radical anti-government groups grew from 149 when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012.
Cohen sees the rise as a backlash against the changing demographics of the country. As a former Klansman said, “there are a lot of angry white people out there looking for answers.”
In fact, domestic extremists committed four times as many homicidal incidents as Islamists between 1990 and 2014.
But for some strange reason, many Americans don’t automatically think of these homegrown acts as terrorism.
The internet has provided a forum for these racist beliefs just as the internet helps to radicalize Islamists.
Three-quarters of domestic terror incidents involved a single person in recent years, Cohen said. Nine of 10 involved just two people.
For instance, anti-government radicals have been active in the West over grazing fees. After the Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada, two of those who had been at the Bundy ranch murdered two police officers at a Las Vegas restaurant.
Cohen contends that these domestic terrorists have not received enough attention. In fact, a special task force formed after the Oklahoma City bombing failed to meet for 13 years after Sept. 11, 2001.
In 2014 a white supremacist killed three people he thought were Jewish in Overland Park, Kan.
A government official called this “reckless neglect,” it’s like a cancer with no plan to deal with it.
We must face threats bravely.