Effective and strategic policies are crucial, but we cannot legislate, regulate, tabulate or prosecute racism, hatred or extremism out of existence. These policy recommendations are but one piece of the larger effort to counter extremism.
By Michael Lieberman
Speak Out and Act Against Hate, Political Violence and Extremism
- It is impossible to overstate the importance of elected officials, business leaders and community officials using their public platforms to condemn and act against political violence, attacks on democratic institutions, racism, antisemitism, hate crimes and vandalism against houses of worship and other minority institutions.
- Ensure that the planners and perpetrators of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol – and those who financed and inspired them to act – are held accountable, with serious consequences.
- Raise awareness and enforce federal and state laws against private militias and paramilitary training – and those restricting firearms in the state capitol/government buildings and near polling places and protecting election workers.
Make Federal and State Hate Crime Data Collection Mandatory
- After 30 years of incomplete data and underreporting under the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA), make hate crime reporting to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and to the appropriate state agency mandatory.
- Until such legislation can be enacted, condition federal and state funds for law enforcement agencies on reporting credible data or taking meaningful steps to address hate violence.
- In close coordination with community stakeholders, implement and fund programs authorized by the COVID-19 Hate Crime Act, including state hate crime hotlines to increase victim reporting and assistance.
Policy Recommendations for Government Prevention and Response to Extremism
- Expand interagency coordination for tracking and assessing the nature and magnitude of domestic extremism and require regular public reports.
- Fund community-informed, immediate and long-term support services for communities targeted and impacted by bias-motivated harms. Fund and develop community-based resilience and early intervention programs for youth that center social-emotional learning and not punishment.
- Fund safe, innovative academic research on promising evidence-based prevention programs that promote social cohesion and community wellness] as well as help communities build resilience to radicalizing narratives and conspiracies. Ensure these programs center on communities’ needs first.
Enforce Hate Crime Laws
- Enforce existing federal and state hate crime laws – and expand training for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials on alternative sentencing and restorative justice initiatives.
Address Long-term Contributors to Hate and Extremism
- Ensure adequate funding for the wide array of government initiatives and public-private partnerships announced at the September 2022 White House United We Stand Summit
- Provide equitable access to government funds for security infrastructure to house of worship and community institutions targeted with violence, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and LGBTQ centers.
- Provide government support for civics education, digital literacy initiatives, culturally competent and linguistically accessible conflict resolution programs, and initiatives to reduce structural racism.
Confront White Supremacy in the Military and in Law Enforcement
- Address extremism in the military at every stage: screening recruits, clarifying prohibitions against advocating for, or involvement in, supremacist or extremist activity for active-duty personnel, and tailored efforts for veterans to transition to civilian life, including counseling, mental health and social welfare services.
- Reinstate a senior position, reporting to the Defense Secretary, to oversee and coordinate efforts to address extremism in the military.
- Mandate more extensive service-wide data collection and reporting, including an annual climate survey on extremism.
- Expedite the renaming of Army bases and hundreds of other military assets currently named for traitorous Confederate leaders.
- Prevent the hiring, promotion or retention of law enforcement personnel who actively promote unlawful violence, white supremacy or other bias against persons because of their personal characteristics. Mandate an annual report on these actions.
Confront Reactionary Anti-Student Inclusion and Censorship Campaigns
- Promote inclusive education and democracy-building school initiatives that celebrate our nation’s diversity.
- Fiercely oppose efforts to impose educational gag orders on teaching painful truths about our nation’s racialized history.
Promote Online Safety and Hold Tech and Social Media Companies Accountable
- Demand that social media companies should not enable the funding or amplifying of white supremacist ideas or provide a safe haven for extremists.
- Require public transparency and accountability with respect to how harmful content exists on platforms.
- Require disclosure about who is paying for specific online political advertisements.
- Provide data about who is benefiting from monetization of extremist media content including via video livestreaming, book production and merchandising, and crowdfunding campaigns.
- Implement rules and regulations to prevent political violence, including election-related incitement, and ensure compliance with civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination that are consistent with the Constitution.