Domestic terrorism in the US has been on the rise. There has been a rise in hate crimes in the US, as well. The current head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, warns that white supremacist extremism is "a persistent, pervasive threat."
But how does the Department of Homeland Security respond to this "persistent, pervasive threat" to the security of the US? Why, naturally, they virtually disband the unit of intelligence analysts looking into domestic terrorism.
Wait? They stop looking into the actual terrorism that is happening right here in the Homeland? Doesn't that sort of sound like exactly the sort of thing Homeland Security should be doing?
They are too busy not uniting little children with their families when they have been separated at our border, and too busy finding inadequate facilities to hold these people, and too busy tracking the menstrual cycles of teen girls. These things shouldn't seem as important and meaningful to DHS as addressing actual violence and terror head on, and, well, violence and terror are still very near to hand.
(And I hear you, people who buy Trump's line about MS-13 and tattoos and "not the best people". Did you know gangs in Central America recruit at knife-tip and gunpoint? That even people who are affiliated with crime might have reasons to try and change their life? That some people want "not a life of crime" to be an actual valid choice for themselves?)
A White Power symbol was found near the burned-out Highlander Center. Three black churches burn in Louisiana. And political figures receive serious threats--former Senator Jeff Flake describes multiple threats to himself and his family. Congressman Eric Swalwell shared a phone message of a death threat. A man was arrested for threatening to assassinate Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
We are seeing a remarkably hate-charged atmosphere, but there is a theme, and it's one I have been seeing for some time--the rhetoric of Trump, and his racist, anti-journalist, anti-democracy views, that have made his red hat a symbol for far-right extremists. Even if not intended as a symbol for terror or hate, it has become a marker for disruption. There is a reason why Trump superfans at Fox News demonize a congresswoman in a hijab, or regularly spew the exact line of hate regarding "replacement" that the Christchurch shooter used to justify his massacre, that the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter used, that the Charlottesville tiki-torch folks chanted.
Maybe there is a reason, also, that the NRA supports far-right groups regarding how to manage their message after a massacre. I don't think it's too far-fetched to say that they, too, have become pro-terrorism.
There is a sickness here born of dehumanization and othering. But it is supported by people who have become perhaps so cynical and nihilistic that they dismiss these terrible signs as just another form of negative political rhetoric, and can't see it for what it is--fascism, here and now. The people who support this crap are, naturally, as Hannah Arendt would say, banal--grifters, attention-seekers, losers. But their dedicated and destructive mediocrity, inadequately challenged, is simply appallingly dangerous to any kind of democratic and free way of life.
I am deeply distrustful of what is happening here.
But if you were to ask certain DHS folks who the real villains were, perhaps they would say Antifa. And they might very well be patted on the head for their service to the state.