Sara Avery |Staff Writer
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled a new strategy report last week specifically identifying white supremacy as serious a threat to the United States as is foreign terrorism.
The report, entitled “Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence,” states that there is “a concerning rise in attacks by individuals motivated by a variety of domestic terrorist ideologies, such as racially- and ethnically- motivated violent extremism.” This is the first time that white supremacist violence has been named as an eminent threat to the United States, and the document calls the problem “one of the most potent forces driving domestic terrorism.” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan cited recent attacks such as those in El Paso and Pittsburgh as examples of increasing homegrown extremist ideologies.
“They have no boundaries, and it’s fueling other white supremacists,” Hampton University senior political science major Korin “Koko” Jones said. “There’s no policies or laws so they feel comfortable and feel inspired to come together.”
One of the ways in which white supremacy is fostered is in online chat rooms such as 4chan and 8chan, where like-minded individuals cultivate and perpetuate ideologies such as the ethnic replacement of whites and the popular QAnon theory. At least three mass shootings this year, including the synagogue shooting in Poway, California, have been linked to sites such as 8chan, where users post manifestos and rhetoric devised for virality. This has caused the creator of the site, Frederick Brennan, to call for its termination.
DHS acknowledged the influence of these sites along with social media and other modern technology in its report and is hoping to “conduct risk-based assessments of technological advances in the near-, medium-, and long-term.”
Although it is significant that the DHS has named white supremacy as a chief threat, some are left wondering why it took so long.
“It’s about time,” HU sophomore journalism major Kennedy Buck said. “The current leaders we have in the government have made no action in the past towards the white supremacy rallies, or people who have shown hate. I’m proud that the government is on a path to make some changes.”
Even with the changes, white supremacy in the U.S. has a sordid past and has created an indelible mark on the way in which the country is run.
“One could argue that white supremacy in its modern terms came out of that court decision in Maryland which makes black slavery solely in this country legal,” said Maurice Myers, an AP United States history teacher from Rolesville, N.C. “We are still affected by white supremacy because blacks as a people lag behind in education, finance, land ownership and business ownership.”
Even with this past, there are some who disagree with the DHS’s decision to list white supremacy as a threat, especially to communities of color. Outspoken conservative pundit Candace Owens testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on the same day the report was released, saying white nationalism wasn’t a considerable threat to the black community.
“White supremacy and white nationalism is [sic] nowhere near, ranks nowhere near, the top of the issues that are facing black America,” Owens told the committee.
Despite the debate, members of both sides of the political spectrum have praised the document and hope that it will do more to combat the wave of mass shootings and violence in the U.S. While the central focus of Homeland Security continues to be guarding the nation from foreign strikes, the increase in recent attacks on the homefront has ushered in a new era of anti-terrorism.