According to CNBC, Sen Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, a candidate for president of the United States, has found a new target for her ire besides billionaires. She has rolled out a plan to do battle with the scourge of white nationalism. Her plan makes references to Charlottesville, the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, and the El Paso Walmart mass shooting.
Warren also adroitly ties President Trump, whom she accuses of fanning the flames of white nationalism with his rhetoric, and the availability of guns, which she would like to curtail. She sees a rise in right-wing hate crimes as a major threat to the United States.
One problem with Warren’s new plan is that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is already on the case, according to a recent article in the Atlantic. The article notes some interesting statistics.
“Public statistics show that white supremacists now represent the deadliest extremists in the United States—for instance, the Anti-Defamation League has reported that last year, white supremacists perpetrated 39 of 50 domestic extremism-related killings in the United States. (The same year saw only one death linked to jihadist terrorism in the U.S.) Yet at the federal level, statistics are imperfect and unevenly reported; the ADL also notes that more than 1,000 law-enforcement agencies didn’t report their data on hate crimes to the FBI, leaving huge gaps in the nationwide picture.”
The fact that Islamist murders were so low in 2018 may be attributed to the Trump administration’s concentration on the threat. The mass killings by jihadists that took place at Fort Hood, Orlando, and San Bernardino were not that long ago. The Atlantic article suggests that the Islamist terrorist threat still exists, especially with the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate and the prospect of fighters returning to their countries of origin, including the United States.
The administration is also concerned about the entry of criminal gangs into the United States across the southern border, particularly MS-13. The atrocities committed by gangs and drug cartels tend not to get lumped into hate crime statistics because they tend to be motivated by revenge or the need to terrorize immigrant communities into obedience.
Then, there is the so-called Antifa, a loosely organized group of domestic terrorists who tend to commit violence based on ideology rather than racial hatred. Antifa tends to be a mirror image of white nationalist groups, attracting some of the same types of people, those being disaffected white males. Charlottesville featured street battles between groups such as the Neo-Nazis and Antifa, for a while unimpeded by the police.
A question arises, are white racists as big a threat as – say – the Antifa?
One of the problems is that some state and local governments, the media, and private groups tend to downplay the threat of the Antifa as compared to white nationalists, the ADL for example. But even that organization noted:
“Antifa have expanded their definition of fascist/fascism to include not just white supremacists and other extremists, but also many conservatives and supporters of President Trump. In Berkeley, for example, some Antifa were captured on video harassing Trump supporters with no known extremist connections. Antifa has also falsely characterized some recent right-wing rallies as ‘Nazi’ events, even though they were not actually white supremacist in nature.”
One case involved an independent conservative journalist named Andy Ngo, who was filming Antifa violence at a demonstration in Portland, Oregon. Antifa beat him so severely that he suffered a brain injury. According to the Hill, Ngo’s attackers have yet to be charged. In the meantime, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, among others, has introduced legislation that would designate Antifa as domestic terrorists.
Andy Ngo, a gay, Asian American, has not gotten a lot of sympathy from the left. An article in Rolling Stone suggested that he is a “right-wing troll” engaged in “demonizing” Antifa. He has even been accused of exaggerating his injuries and even provoking the attack.
The fact that Antifa is conspicuous by its absence from Warren’s policy proposal raises some questions. Does she regard Antifa as domestic terrorists that need the same amount of attention as white nationalists? Is violence commuted by one group less serious than that committed by another based solely on the motivating ideology? The answer to those and other questions could be seen as illuminating.