WASHINGTON — Yesterday, in a letter statement submitted to Representative Max Rose (NY-11), Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, and Representative Mark Walker (NC-6), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, SPLC Action Fund Senior Research Analyst Cassie Miller warned of an array of dangers posed by a growing far-right extremism movement in the United States. The letter was submitted as part of the official record for a July 16 subcommittee hearing on “Assessing the Threat from Accelerationists and Militia Extremists.”
“Today, the American far-right is united by its extreme antigovernment animus and violent apocalyptic ideations, epitomized by the current focus on an impending second civil war. These mentalities have long undergirded the far right, but they have now earned the movement’s near single-minded attention,” states the SPLC Action Center letter statement. “Far-right extremists are actively preparing for civil war by acquiring weapons, engaging in paramilitary training, and even committing acts of violence aimed at sparking large-scale civil unrest. Because it is viewed as the main impediment to erecting an ethnonationalist and fascist state, the U.S. government itself is now the primary enemy against which the far-right positions itself.”
In addition to addressing the threats from specific groups such as the “Boogaloo” movement, Miller also pointed out the disturbing, energizing role aggressive policing has played in the growth of these groups, “the dramatic militarization of law enforcement, which accelerated after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has contributed to far-right extremists’ mistrust of federal and local law enforcement – particularly as white supremacists have been identified as a national threat priority by the FBI…. Violence at the hands of the state, in the form of a highly militarized police force, therefore, helps to prop up far-right conspiracy theories. It creates a feedback loop: state suppression or violence intended to tamp down on far-right extremism emboldens and mobilizes the movement, thereby justifying more state violence.”
The letter, which provides the views of the SPLC Action Fund based on the work the organization has done since 1971 to fight for racial justice alongside impacted communities, also offered policy recommendations to the Subcommittee, including:
- End the 1033 Program. Since it was established in the 1997 FY National Defense Authorization Act, the 1033 Program has facilitated the transfer of more than $7.4 billion in surplus military equipment to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Promote anti-bias education programs that help steer individuals away from hate and extremism. The law is a blunt instrument to confront hate and extremism; it is much better to prevent these criminal acts in the first place.
- Speak out against hate. Words matter. It is impossible to overstate the importance of civic and military leaders using their public platforms and bully pulpits to condemn hate and extremism. Failure to do so emboldens extremists.
- Investigate and prosecute the violent criminal activities of The Base and other racist extremist groups. The arrests and federal charges filed in January in Maryland and Georgia against several members of The Base for, among other things, explosives and firearms-related charges, was an important demonstration that federal officials are working to prevent and punish their criminal activities.
- Provide sufficient resources to meet the threat. Until recently, the administration and federal law enforcement officials had failed to adequately track the threat from white supremacist and other extremist groups – focusing, instead, almost exclusively, on violence inspired by radical interpretations of Islam.
- Restrict online fundraising opportunities. Members of The Base are using restricted-access social media platforms like Telegram to communicate and organize. Restrict access to firearms for extremists. Our research documents that 59% of domestic terrorist attacks carried out between April 1, 2009, and February 1, 2015, were perpetrated with a gun.
- Improve hate crime training and data collection. Data drives policy. We cannot address a problem if we are not effectively tracking and measuring it.
- Enforce hate crime laws, train law enforcement officials, and build community capacity. Federal and state governments should provide law enforcement officials with the tools and training they need to prevent and effectively respond to hate violence.
- Prevent white supremacists and other extremists from serving in the US Armed Forces. Several members of The Base have been identified as veterans or active-duty servicemen.
Additionally, Miller informed the committee that the SPLC Action Fund supports provisions included recently in the House-approved FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to create a new Special Inspector General to investigate the causes of underrepresentation of minorities within the officer corps and higher ranks of enlisted servicemembers, the overrepresentation of servicemembers of color in military justice proceedings, the Department of Defense’s diversity and inclusion efforts, and the extent of white supremacy within the military.