When it comes to the question of terrorism, the only object on the Trump administration’s radar is protecting whiteness.
It’s been just over a week since President Donald Trump scrawled his signature on an executive order banning incoming refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. This ban is part one of Mr. Trump keeping his campaign promise to crack down on foreign terrorism in a manner that, he claims, former President Barack Obama never did.
Part two, we learned on Thursday, is to reprioritize the “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) program, change the name to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” and, as this new name suggests, focus the resources of this federally-funded program solely on tracking, monitoring and apprehending Muslim-related threats.
There are some obvious issues (to put it mildly) with this plan — not least of which is the intention of the Trump administration to ignore the homegrown threats of white supremacy and right-wing extremism in the U.S.
Truth be told, Trump is implementing his agenda at a time when studies show that the threat of right-wing extremism far outweighs threats inspired by Muslim ideology. For example, according to this 2015 study conducted by University of North Carolina Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke University Professor David Schanzer, published in the New York Times, Islam-inspired attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years” — compared to right-wing terror activities, which “averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.”
Trump is implementing his war on Islam and de-escalating the war on white nationalism at a moment when the FBI has been “quietly” investigating white nationalists infiltrating American police departments.
In a heavily redacted version of an October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment, the agency raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The effort, the memo noted, “can lead to investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources or personnel.” The memo also states that law enforcement had recently become aware of the term “ghost skins,” used among white supremacists to describe “those who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.” In at least one case, the FBI learned of a skinhead group encouraging ghost skins to seek employment with law enforcement agencies in order to warn crews of any investigations.
And their reign of terror wasn’t always as covert as using “ghost skins” to penetrate the state, as the history of the intersection of law enforcement and white racism in our republic attests. Historians of policing in America are quick to remind us of the true origins of professional police departments: slave patrols.
At the same time that America’s police officialdom kept our nation’s enslaved black population in tight check, other whites banded together, extralegally, into groups under the sole objective of intimidating, oppressing and executing black lives. For years, these whites, with the calculated support of their state counterparts, eschewed any legal ramification — or, at least the potential of legal consequence — for the criminal acts they committed until Congress enacted the Enforcement Acts — the country’s first anti-terrorist laws — in the 1870s.
These are the facts, however much Donald Trump may be prone to marketing fiction and hellbent on selling #alternativefacts to the American people.
No amount of cosmetic patronage to “The Blacks” — whether it’s signing an executive order authorizing Black History Month or supporting HBCU’s for your own egotistical purposes — is sufficient to block us from inferring a not-so-subtle truth about this new administration, that its staff in the main is comprised of white nationalist sympathizers and persons who, in many respects, identify with the goals of white supremacist organizations.
Such an inference is in keeping with what we observed in the below-the-belt presidential race Trump became infamous for running. In the thick of the 2016 campaign, he knowingly and intentionally pandered to the poisonous platform of white supremacists. Among members of the KKK, he was a rock star, the main attraction, which is unsurprising given the fact that he cozied up to some of the leading figureheads of the white power movement, such as David Duke and Steve Bannon, the latter of whom Trump recently appointed to the National Security Council.
In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any documentation of Donald Trump denouncing the heinous actions of white supremacists with the same gusto with which he communicates his raw, seething hatred toward Islamic terrorist threats.
But we’re expected to buy the line about “protecting the American people,” bury our heads in the sand, ignore these contradictions and believe that President Trump opposes all ALL forms of terrorism, domestic and foreign, when every single move he’s made prior to and since entering the Oval Office has been to appease WASPs?
It’s clear that the only object on Mr. Trump’s radar when it comes to the question of terrorism is protecting whiteness. And I really hope his administration is aware that there are critics and people in this country who have not been duped into believing otherwise, who are prepared to unleash voice and deed to stop him.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misquoted the Kurzman and Shanzer study’s finding regarding the number of fatalities caused by Islam-inspired attacks. The error has been corrected.