The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

White House Releases Report on Countering U.S. Extremism

By Mark Potok on August 3, 2011 - 3:56 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime

The White House today released a new report, “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States,” that describes a national plan to take on homegrown violent radicals of all types. It is broad, sober, careful not to assign blame to any particular community, and fairly uninspiring.

It’s not that there’s anything to dislike in the plan. But the eight-page document is notably short on specifics, and doesn’t offer any particularly new approaches. It does include statements about the advisability of respecting civil rights, avoiding demonizing Muslims, empowering local communities and institutions, and fostering dialogue — all strategies that have been pursued in various ways already. It also notes, as have many officials recently, that jihadist terror groups have increasingly ramped up their efforts to radicalize U.S. Muslims and turn them against their own country.

But it declines to create “a new architecture of institutions and funding,” instead emphasizing the need to utilize “successful models, increasing their scope and scale where appropriate.” In concrete terms, the report suggests expanding the federal government’s relationships with grassroots groups, both so locals will be more likely to report suspicious activity and so people will be less likely to radicalize.

To its credit, the new report, even as it characterizes Al Qaeda as still the most serious terrorist threat facing Americans, refuses to demonize Muslims, as American politicians from U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have done over the course of the last year. It makes the important point that foreign jihadists today are aiming their propaganda at potential American recruits, and that a key piece of that propaganda is the idea that America is at war with Islam.

But the report does not address in any way the need to improve intelligence and analysis of political extremists in America. That need has seemed obvious since Daryl Johnson, the former lead analyst of non-Islamic domestic terrorism for the Department of Homeland Security, did an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In it, Johnson said that his unit had been gutted after a 2009 report he authored was pilloried by the political right for supposedly demonizing conservatives. After those attacks, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano withdrew the report and described it as fundamentally flawed – an assessment which seemed ridiculous to groups, including the SPLC, that study domestic extremism.

  • Sam Molloy

    Terrorism is a danger, but some religious fanatic terrorist could kill only a small number of people at a time. The religious fanatics trying to take over the US government have the potential to kill literally millions in the name of their psycho idea of god.

  • Jonas Rand

    I never understood what problem right-wingers had with Obamacare. It was an extremely weak, useless piece of legislation that cost entirely too much, but if taken at face value, would have been totally uncontroversial and bland. Obama, shortly before the Obamacare package was to be voted on, called off a public insurance option. Single payer had no chance of being considered by the President; there was no question about whether that would be included. So, what is it good (or bad) for? It almost surely won’t result in much change from the status quo.

  • skinnyminny

    Okay, you’re right! We hate seeing all of the violence, and hateful speech that incites violence, and hearing the lies coming from the ‘right.’ In that case, I’m a hater! I’m a hater-rater, actually. ROTFLMAO!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Wow Roger, thanks for the INCREDIBLY ORIGINAL, CLEVER counter-attack. Could you be more specific?

  • Roger

    The only hate I see here is hate from your organization.

  • skinnyminny

    Hopefully, everyone, including the SPLC will take note of this one, this is just too funny! (first off, I’m a regular reader of both SPLC and Harry’s Place). Here, I hope Christie can be held to his word, this story, “I’m tired of dealing with the crazies,” has a video of NJ Gov. Chris Christie saying, “I’m tired of dealing with the crazies,” after appointing a Muslim Lawyer, Sohaeil Mohammed, as a state judge.

    Not sure if this is a voting ploy, or if he (Christie) has a change of heart. I do know that if Obama appointed a Muslim to any position as a lawyer, the outrage would be out of this world!

  • skinnyminny

    Shadow Wolf,
    That’s true! However, what people have failed to realize is that because the dems did not have the control of senate/house, there’s no way for changes to take effect, i.e., every newly president makes major changes when they move into the mansion – including pres. Clinton, this goes from dept of justice, to all other depts. This pres. wasn’t able to get the confirmations he wanted – due to the ‘party of no.’

    So again, if these people are so selfish as to think that if they don’t get what they want right away, they won’t vote, or they will change their vote, then they really deserve what they get. I know when I’m out and hear people complaining, I asked them, ‘did you vote?’ and they’d say, ‘no.’ I tell them I don’t want to hear it, and they have no right to complain when if the seniors can get up and go to townhall meetings, and they are young able laying around with nothing to do all day can at least go vote.’

  • skinnyminny

    That is soo true! Because I came from a family of strong GOP voters, I learned to vote in every election – primary, general, special elections, regardless of weather conditions.

    Sad part about what happened in 2010, the GOP and teas were scared anyway, they begged people to not give control to the dems by voting for them. They knew that redistricting, budgets, economy would be a major issue. They kept issuing the talking points of ,’checks and balances,’ and ‘don’t let the dems control the purse strings’ – meaning congress, and ,’help us get rid of Obamacare.’

    Interesting that people don’t realize, the GOP has been trying to take away the voting rights of some of the population for a while – remember Tancredo saying that people should have a taken a ‘civic’s class to vote. Groups telling voters to vote on dates other than the official voting day. Voters turned away due to lack of identification – government issued I.D., voters stripped from the voting rolls… Not to insult anyone, but sometimes I think, damn, these people are either incredibly dumb, or incredibly stupid – this is when I see the these things happen and they turn around and vote for the same person over and over again that have kept them in what I’d like to call ‘personal bondage,’ through the belief in faith. And then when a $10 bill comes at a moment of desperation the think it was ‘a miracle.’ ***again, this is not to insult/offend anyone, this is what I think at times – I am agnostic.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Skinny M,
    There were significant number of Dems, including Blacks, especially the Latino voting bloc, who first backed Obama, merely because they thought he had a solution(or a change) on immigration reform. He did not lived up to his agenda, eventually leading to everyone on all fronts to disagree(and/or diappointed) with him. Blacks, albeit for the most part are still supportive of him.

    Here in Arizona, Latinos make up a high significant populace, yet they don’t use their numbers to help shift the tide on the voting bloc. This is also why the rabid wing-nuts(Russell Pearce/Sheriff Arpaio et al) are able to stay in power for so long. Latinos simply don’t vote.

  • ModerateMike

    I remember having warned friends and family back in 2010 that they ought to think carefully about using their vote (or not voting) to hit back at Obama given the alternative (i.e. the Tea Party), but I was disappointed at how many people with liberal views stayed home anyway. Part of the problem may have been that so many liberals and moderate conservatives didn’t take the Tea Party seriously. For example, after Rand Paul suggested in a May 2010 interview that the Civil Rights Act went too far in prohibiting private businesses from engaging in racial discrimination, people were telling me, “Ah, MIke, quit worrying about him so much. He’s ruined his chances after making those remarks,” or “The Tea Party movement is just people letting off some steam. They’ll settle down.” But, while my friends may have learned a lesson, public anger regarding the budget debacle seems to be directed equally at all members of Congress, as if the Democrats (and non-Tea Party Republicans) were being obstructionistic in asking for the Tea Party to make some concessions. Sorry, but I am not angry at the entire government; I am angry at one faction within one political party within one house in Congress…and I am disappointed with the liberals and moderates who allowed all of this to happen by not getting out to vote.



  • Ian

    “Also, her political allies consisted of the self-proclaimed ‘AmeriKKKa’s Toughest Sheriff’ arpaio among other Republicans.”

    I highly, highly doubt that title is self-proclaimed.

  • Reynardine

    I have to state it again: not only has Fox become a hate/ propaganda machine rather than a marginally legitimate “news” organization, the formerly mainstream Republican party is nothing but a shell organization that gives legitimacy to racists, fascists, and above all, seditionists. The latter in fact have sworn their primary allegiance to Grover Norquist; their “lawful” legislature is ALEC; their “real” government, the Council for National Policy. Say that, and they’ll call you a “conspiracy theorist”; don’t say that, and we’ll wake up in the Fourth Reich (with our state church the Christian Taliban).

  • skinnyminny

    I kinda disagree with you. I think people are expecting miracles, yet, they didn’t vote or used their vote to retaliate, saying they would vote for the teas/gop, or they just wouldn’t vote.

    The teas/gop didn’t hide what they were going to do – I’m not sure which post I commented on last year, I listed a link that they had about what they were going to do, and it wasn’t pretty.

    As far as not hiding what they were doing, Sarah Palin, in fact, was the one who really pushed the issue when she said she was ‘going rogue.’ At that point, people really began to say racists things at different town hall meetings…at the same time the SPLC had a report about the growing extremism. Again, where were the libs/dems when the right threw a fit about this report? Where was the libs/dems when the right started attacking ACORN, public radio, gay rights, immigration, union-busting…

    The former ex-guv ‘the terminator’ of Califas said publicly he was going to bust up the unions. It was no secret that immigrants were being attacked verbally/physically, this has been going on for years – the disrespect towards the prez, who’s standing up – ‘he’s a muslim, you lie…’ So, again, if the people won’t back him up and stand up and do the right thing themselves, how can you demand so much from him or the admin? If people think they can ignore these people and wish it go away, these guys will only look at it as if this behavior is okay, and we have let our guard down – remember, they like the sneak attacks, remember ‘shock and awe?’

  • Jonas Rand

    The government, politely, ignores the Bushista-Republican fascists once again. What a shock.

  • Linnea

    You’ve got that right, Shadow Wolf.

    Good gravy, this administration is turning out to be a bunch of wimps. They’re too terrified of being yelled at by people who don’t like them anyway.

  • Reynardine

    The way in which right- wing sites have elevated Breivik and demonized his victims is especially ominous. Add to that Pamela Geller’s concealing his identity before the massacre and expunging his most violent passages after – well, it’s not a stretch to say that they hope “it can happen here”. Fox News is a hate organization, and in its current manifestation, the Republican Party is on the brink of becoming a hate organization. This is not what Abraham Lincoln had in mind for it, and it’s too bad it has to be said, but it must be faced: dog- whistling haters are taking it over.

  • Shadow Wolf

    And let’s not forget that Janet Napolitano is really a “conservative” dressed up in a Democratic suit. Soley based upon the policies she enforced here while a Gov. of Az. Also, her political allies consisted of the self-proclaimed “AmeriKKKa’s Toughest Sheriff” arpaio among other Republicans. Her decision to retract the original demestic terrorist report by Mr. Johnson is not surprising. The radical extremist of the far right is just as much of a dire threat as Al-Qaeda. Especially after the Norway carnage by a radicalized Christian zealot.