We Have Enough Cops and Sufficient Laws — It’s Time To Address White Supremacist Terrorism Politically
By: M Baqir Mohie El-Deen, MPAC Policy Program Manager
A few days following the Capitol Hill Attack on January 6th, an activistic architecture studio based in Germany released a plan for what it called ‘Capitol Castle’, which made its way around American social media. Although the 36-feet-thick brick walls around the U.S. Capitol plans were not serious, and it was drafted as satirical commentary, the studio had the intention of sparking debate over America’s handling of domestic terrorism.
Due to our past president’s rhetoric, the approach to addressing domestic violent extremism (DVE) has become a partisan issue. However, it’s not new to America. White supremacy has been a part of this nation since its inception. Right-wing terrorism is the biggest threat facing Americans today, and it has killed more Americans than any other threat to this nation. Georgetown University Law Center’s professor Mary McCord believes that white supremacy is as big of a threat to America as ISIL was to the Middle East, however we don’t see our government taking the same approach nor utilizing similar resources to combatting DVE as it did to fighting ISIL abroad. The hypocrisy of our nation’s approach to fighting white supremacy is ever more apparent, and it’s due to the following:
1) Domestic extremism is not illegal in the United States
Although federal statutes have a definition, albeit vague, for domestic terrorism, there is not a single law that outlaws it. The reasons stem back to 1975, when the Senate Church Committee stated that the FBI had abused its powers by spying on American citizens who were part of the Ku Klux Klan. In response, legislation was enacted that placed strict limits on the FBI and other agencies’ ability to infiltrate and track such organizations. The Church Committee saw that the new laws and rules created established more rigorous requirements for surveillance on Americans than on foreigners. This is the reason that we see today that FBI counterterrorism officials make a point that when targeting Americans, that they target individuals and not groups, and violent acts, and not ideologies. The precedent of such laws were set by arguing that first amendment rights protect domestic violent groups from being investigated, and for that, the FBI does not have the ability to open investigations on homegrown terrorists.
2) Our government must want to address domestic violent extremism adequately
This past year in Washington, D.C. revealed the hypocrisy of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies approach to handling domestic violence extremism. We witnessed how in the same city, our nation’s capitol, and only months apart, our law enforcement agency addressed the protests triggered by the murder of George Floyd and the storming of Capitol Hill. Even members of the Proud Boys have attested that the police force has only been tested on left-wing groups. By using the same approach for the latter the Capitol Hill attack would have been avoided. Metro D.C. Police revealed to us that they have the ability, training, and resources to address the storming of Capitol Hill by the displays of overwhelming force, kettling, and the mass arrests we repeatedly saw last year during the George Floyd protests. Those same techniques would’ve been sufficient to squash the protest we saw on January 6th that escalated into a deadly riot.
One D.C. resident who routinely cycles through Capitol Hill tweeted that he was in disbelief of what transpired that day on Capitol Hill, for he has witnessed the United States Capitol Police harass cyclists who slightly bike off of the permitted path, or D.C. residents who are stopped during their walks for having bottle openers on their keychains. The U.S. Capitol building is said to be the safest place on this planet due to the presence and ability of law enforcement in the area, and the hypocrisy of our law enforcement’s approach to addressing domestic terrorism has become the Hill’s achilles’ heel.
The collaborative security apparatuses in Washington D.C. possess the ability to meet any demonstration with overwhelming force, and they have perfected methods of mass detention and arrest. What the Capitol Hill attack has uncloaked though, is the political question of whether, when and against whom they want to be able to use these abilities, and of course, who commands them.
Our past analysis has shed light on what the Biden Administration can do to combat domestic violent extremism, which includes using existing laws for combatting foreign terrorism, and not introducing new laws that will be used strictly on domestic violent extremists. However, our first step as a nation is to address the hypocrisy that separates foreign and domestic terrorism. God states in the Holy Quran “Indeed, God does not change the condition of a nation until they change what is within themselves.” By first acknowledging the double standards that exist in our nation, and then addressing these discrepancies, we’ll be able to reprogram America to address it’s birth defect of how it deals with racism, which will allow us to live up to the ideals, and the essence of the Constitution.