You might have heard that the seven countries chosen for Trump’s travel ban include seven the Obama administration designated as being terrorist hotbeds. Put into that light, it seems not only sensible, but damn right prudent to restrict America’s exposure to those places, after all, terror is bad.
But then there are the reports on domestic extremism.
That’s right, the Obama administration may have had its eyes on terrorism abroad, but what good is that when you have it in your backyard? In fact, incubators for domestic terrorism have been on the rise in the form of domestic hate groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the nation’s premier trackers of hate groups, has recorded an ever-increasing supply of hate, and even provides a chilling 2015 tale of terror. Coinciding with this uptick in groups is an uptick in violent acts. Utilizing everything from knives to death rays, violence and violent plots have been unfolding precipitously across America.
The numbers do not lie. Not only has rhetoric increased, but some are following words with actions. President Obama saw this and reacted, weaving the threat of homegrown terrorism into his national security strategy back in his first term. It seemed that yes indeed, the specter of terrorism and violence is rearing its ugly head, but it may be coming from Missouri, not Mogadishu.
So why is Trump ignoring that much of the threat?
Trump’s recent counter-terrorism efforts have centered solely on terrorism perpetrated by Muslims. Ignoring shootings, personal and property attacks, and a long list of terror plots committed and planned by non-Muslims, the Trump administration has pushed the narrative that terrorism lays within the domain of Islam alone. But wait, it gets better.
While simultaneously pushing this false line, the administration has continued to distribute grants via the Countering Violent Extremism program- a program Trump wants to rebrand “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism”- to Islamic institutes intended to counter radicalizing ideation. Some groups have resorted to handing the money back outright, claiming they cannot be part of the real-world implementation of the Trump administration’s hate-filled hyperbole.
This insane shift in focus will not only take eyes off of groups many counter-terrorism experts say with statistical proof is a larger threat than Islamic-based terrorists, but will embolden those same groups to entrench and expand their influence in society. There is reason to believe they are already prevalent in law enforcement.
The most bone-chilling line from this development comes in the words of Christian Picciolini, the co-founder of neo-Nazi rehabilitation non-profit Life After Hate and a former member of a neo-Nazi group, “… it sends a message that white extremism does not exist, or is not a priority in our country, when in fact it is a statistically larger and more present terror threat than any by foreign or other domestic actors.”