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Tag: white supremacy

When Will Congress Call Domestic Terrorism By Its True Name?

I can’t imagine how Garnell Whitfield Jr. did it, how he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to demand some sort of action from the country’s leaders on gun violence and on the domestic terrorism wrought by white supremacy. But as I was riveted by his testimony, I realized the strength and courage he must have drawn from the memory of the mother he will never stop grieving.

Ruth Whitfield, at 86, was the oldest victim in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 people, all African Americans, dead. It was May 14, not even a month ago. Yet there have been so many shootings since, it sometimes seems as if the rest of the world has forgotten. An 18-year-old white man is accused of carrying out the racist attack, accused of driving hours to hunt and murder as many Black people as possible.

“I would ask every senator to imagine the faces of your mothers as you look at the face of my mother, Mrs. Ruth Whitfield,” Garnell Whitfield testified on Tuesday.

Would they be able to do that?

“Ask yourself,” he said, “is there nothing we can do?”

The track record isn’t great.

I’m not sure what Whitfield was expecting from lawmakers who have a hard time even naming what happened. How, then, could they put themselves in his shoes?

Garnell Whitfield is far ahead of our elected representatives, many of whom want, have always wanted, to distract and downplay, to accuse others of bad intentions, to look everywhere but into the eyes and the broken heart of a man whose life has been forever changed.

Whitfield’s plainspoken speech must have startled those reluctant to call out “domestic terrorism” and “white supremacy” for the dangers they are, despite the warnings from FBI Director Christopher Wray’s March 2021 testimony before the same committee about the connection between the January 6 attack on the Capitol and right-wing “domestic terrorism.”

They would rather, as Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have done and continue to do, point to acts of violence by those on the left and accuse Democrats of using any effort to counter domestic threats as an excuse to go after political opponents.

This is the same Cruz who walked back his comments earlier this year describing January 6 as a “terrorist attack,” a sign of how dishonestly hearings by the House Select Committee are going to be received in some partisan quarters.

In Buffalo, the intent was clear. Did the shooter want to terrorize more than the people he is charged with gunning down? Were Black people enjoying weekend shopping human beings in the shooter's eyes? Or were they merely players in his racist conspiracy theories about nonwhites in America usurping the white majority’s rightful place at the top? It is a hateful theory that is taking root, even in the rhetoric of some tasked with governing an increasingly diverse country.

“Be very afraid,” was the clear message in Buffalo to all African Americans. That’s the point of any hate crime, to target a group, especially when the hate is spelled out, chapter and verse.

It was the message of those who murdered Black Americans exercising the right to vote not that many years ago, or in the case of World War II veteran Medgar Evers in 1963, murdering an American hero just for daring to register fellow citizens, for insisting on being treated equally in the country he fought for.

Yet, despite a history with more cases of intimidation and violence than can fit in one or 1,000 columns — a history our leaders in Washington could view at the city’s museums open to all, if truth were the goal — Senate Republicans recently blocked a bill that would have the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI establish offices focused on domestic terrorism. This comes as five members of the far-right Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role on January 6, with televised hearings promising much more.

Just as any gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was prohibited for more than two long decades because of an amendment to a bill that prevented using federal funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” a 2009 effort by the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration to report on increasingly radicalized and violent right-wing groups was ended before it began.

Republican members of Congress and right-wing media outlets led the charge then and now to reframe any such attention as an attempt to smear police and the military and shift attention away from the perceived more urgent threat of foreign actors. Echoes of that could be heard in GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky’s recent remarks about the 2022 proposal. “It would be the Democrat plan to name our police as white supremacists and neo-Nazis,” he said. Former President Donald Trump, the man who found “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville, Va., moved the government away from any investigation of white supremacist groups during his time in office.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical. How do you distinguish between hate speech and free speech? I understand the reluctance, and am reluctant myself, of too many investigations, too much surveillance, and how easily that can turn into the monitoring of “certain” groups. Past federal crackdowns to stop hate too often have been subverted to instead persecute and spy on those fighting for justice.

But there is definitely both smoke and fire when so many law enforcement officers and military veterans were caught attacking the very government they were sworn to protect on January 6, when shooters bond online over lies and hate.

America has a white supremacy problem, despite the reluctance of members of Congress to admit it, with support across the political spectrum for “threatening or acting violently against perceived political opponents,” according to a recent poll from the Southern Poverty Law Center that spares no one.

In that context, Garnell Whitfield doesn’t seem to be asking too much when he tells the senators that his mother’s life mattered, and asks: “Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires?”

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Anti-Semitic And Racist Lawman Was Finalist For Sheriff Of Idaho’s Largest County

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One of the clearest priorities for public officials that has emerged from the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is the dire need to root far-right extremists out of the ranks of the nation's law enforcement agencies—underscored by an FBI intelligence report warning that white supremacists are targeting such agencies for infiltration. More than anything, effectively confronting far-right terrorism and violence will require ensuring that law enforcement is not subverted by officers who sympathize with their frequently unhinged ideologies.

But in Boise, Idaho, local county commissioners considered appointing as sheriff a man named Steve Traubel, who is an ardent supporter of the far-right Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), an organization that preaches that sheriffs are the supreme law of the land, accountable to no one. During his job interview this week as one of three finalists for the sheriff's position, Traubel repeated the antisemitic theory that Jews "led the Bolshevik Revolution" and are to blame for creating the Soviet Union, as well as for the subsequent violence.

However, although Traubel had significant backing from GOP officials, the county commission on Friday chose someone else.

Traubel, a onetime Sheriff's Office investigator who worked in the Ada County Prosecutor's Office until 2019, and the other two candidates—Matt Clifford, a lieutenant in the Sheriff's Office, and Mike Chilton, a Marine Corps veteran and onetime Sheriff's Office employee—were interviewed Wednesday by the Ada County Commission. The three finalists were chosen by the Ada County Republican Central Committee to replace former Sheriff Steve Bartlett, who resigned suddenly in May, less than a year after winning reelection.

On Friday, the commission announced that it had chosen Clifford for the job.

While Chilton has been evasive about his background—having refused to supply the commission with requested information on his employment and personal history—Traubel's background as a far-right extremist is well-established, and he was largely unapologetic about it in his interview. According to Boise State Public Radio, Traubel received more votes from GOP central-committee members than any other potential nominee, and county commissioners received several letters supporting Traubel from those party leaders.

Traubel openly embraces the CSPOA, which embraces him in return. On his website, Traubel features an endorsement from CSPOA founder Richard Mack:

However, Doug Traubel has more than just law enforcement experience; he has freedom experience. He knows and understands the principles of liberty upon which America was founded. He knows that Liberty is the ultimate responsibility of every sheriff in this country. The people of Ada County will be able to trust him to run the sheriff's office in a manner that will guarantee safety and protect freedom. They must go together and with Doug, they will.

Traubel is also the author of a self-published book titled Red Badge: A veteran peace officer's commentary on the Marxist subversion of American Law Enforcement & Culture, available on Amazon. According to its description, Traubel "pulls no punches as he delivers hard-hitting evidence that reveals how Marxists have repackaged themselves and are subverting the rule of law with social justice and an administrative state, superimposed over the constitution."

It adds: "Controlling local police is essential to the success of the revolution. To do this the Marxist hammer of political correctness is reshaping a peace officer's oath over the anvil of ignorance and fear. Five decades of federal indoctrination, intimidation and seduction have turned local police leadership into tools for Marxist social engineering."

Traubel also wrote a screed for the far-right Gem State Patriot website claiming that former President Obama is "a laughable stooge of the tried-and-failed Marxist ideology" and claiming:

It is 2016! There is no longer black oppression in the United States. Police are good. Criminals are bad. It is not white versus black. It is police versus criminal. It is good versus evil. It is principles versus relativism. It is truth versus deception.

When Ada commissioners began grilling Traubel over these and other remarks on Wednesday, he unleashed a deluge of far-right conspiracist nonsense, much of it anti-semitic and racist in nature, including his insistence that Jews were responsible for the Communist regime in Russia—noting that while Jews were victims in Nazi Germany, "they were the villain class in the Soviet Union" because they "led the Bolshevik revolution."

Traubel's claim not only is false, it was a common propaganda trope known as "Judeo-Bolshevism" promoted by the German Nazi regime in the years leading up to and including the Holocaust, claiming that Communism was a Jewish plot to undermine Germany. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: "The existence of a communist state so close to Germany was not merely a political threat, but also an existential racial and ideological threat. For Nazis, both Jews and communists were made worse by their supposed identification with one another."

Traubel, however, insisted Wednesday that the claim was real: "What we don't often hear … is how many hundreds of thousands of people were killed (in the Soviet Union) and what group actually started that," he said.

If the commission were to select Traubel, he would not be the first CSPOA-affiliated sheriff to lay claim to jurisdiction in a large urban area. That distinction belongs to former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke of Wisconsin, the pro-Trump advocate who at one time was a Fox News regular.

As was the case with Clarke—who, after his tenure has ended, advocated for right-wing "patriots" to take to the streets in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions—having such a sheriff would play law enforcement in the hands of the same movement (that is, the "Patriot" movement, in which the CSPOA is an active and powerful presence) primarily responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection.

When CSPOA sheriffs have taken office, the results are often disastrous. Just ask the residents of Grant County, Oregon, where one such sheriff has taken to ruling the county like his personal fiefdom.

Traubel openly embraced the CSPOA belief in the supremacy of the sheriff during the interview. He told commissioners that if, in his view, a "social justice mentality is pulling the reins on the police" in Boise during a protest, "if I get wind of that, I'm going in." He indicated he believed the Boise Police officers would then be "under my command."

"It kind of sounds like you'd be willing to take up arms against the Boise police," commissioner Rod Beck commented.

Other commissioners questioned comments and claims that Traubel has made on social media, including his racist (and false) assertions that Black men are responsible for "at least 50%" of all rapes—which he asserted he read in a book that was "factual and well-sourced," but could not name—and other bigoted remarks, including the assertion that "Islam is the culture of death."

But Traubel's bigotry is part of the CSPOA package, which itself is founded on far-right conspiracy theories whose origins were profoundly racist and anti-Semitic. As the Southern Poverty Law Center explained in a 2016 report on the organization's spread, particularly in rural counties where such "constitutionalist" beliefs are often popular:

[T]he real root of the "county supremacy" movement that has been explicitly embraced by the CSPOA is the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic group of the 1970s and 1980s that also defined the county sheriff as the highest "legitimate" law enforcement authority in the country. The Posse, whose Latin name translates as "power of the county," said government officials who "disobey" the Constitution should be taken to a downtown intersection and "hung there by the neck."

Richard Mack (while insisting that the United States is "not a democracy" but "a constitutional republic") claims that sheriffs and police officers—by virtue of having taken an oath to uphold the Constitution—were the true arbiters of what the law permits, and may choose not to uphold laws they deem outside it, regardless of any court rulings, even at the highest federal levels:

Why do you think that I have an obligation to go along with any unconstitutional act or anything that violates liberty? It's not my definition. It's right there, it's plain and easy. I know what "shall not be infringed" means. I know what that means. Because my legislature bestows no obligation on me to go along. Just the opposite. I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, and you, like everybody else, think I don't have to. That's the problem. We don't follow the Constitution anymore. Let's try that for a year. But it's your definition. It's not my definition.
… Why is the sheriff so powerful? Look at your history of the sheriff. Also, look, he is the only elected law enforcement officer anywhere in the country. He's the only one. He gets his power directly from the people. He reports only to them. They're his only boss. He has no other boss except the people. And he promised them that he would uphold and defend their constitutional rights. And so you're saying, no, he doesn't have to. If the legislature tells him not to, if they pass a law. You think all laws are good if they pass?
In his county … the governor's not his boss. He doesn't report to the governor. He doesn't report to the president. When they are wrong, what do we do?

Not one of these arguments has ever been upheld in any court of law in the United States. Moreover, as the Center for Public Integrity explored in depth in a 2014 study of the CSPOA, the organization's worldview is dangerously aligned with views held by domestic terrorists and violent white supremacists:

What's unique about his group is not that it opposes gun controls but that its ambition is to encourage law enforcement officers to defy laws they decide themselves are illegal. On occasion, some of his group's sheriffs have found themselves in curious agreement with members of the sovereign citizens' movement, which was also founded on claimed rights of legal defiance and is said by the FBI to pose one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats.

Indeed, the sovereign citizens movement that preaches the same beliefs vis-a-vis the role of government has, over the past 20 years, also posed the most lethal threat to law enforcement officers in the country. The FBI in 2010 designated the movement a significant source of domestic terrorism.

"It's terrifying to me," Justin Nix, a University of Louisville criminology professor who specializes in police fairness and legitimacy, told The Washington Post. "It's not up to the police to decide what the law is going to be. They're sworn to uphold the law. It's not up to them to pick and choose."

Greene Drops Plan For ‘America First’ Caucus After Backlash

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said she is not recruiting members for the so-called "America First Caucus," after members of Congress from both sides of the aisle condemned the caucus's overtly racist and white supremacist platform.

A spokesperson for Greene, Nick Dyer, told CNN on Sunday that Greene was "not launching anything," and even tried to distance the Georgia Republican from the offensive rhetoric in the caucus platform that Greene had been sending around.

Dyer told CNN that Greene "didn't approve that language and has no plans to launch anything."

It's a clear reversal from Greene's comments on Friday, when Dyer told reporters that Greene would be launching the caucus "very soon," after Punchbowl News first obtained the caucus platform.

And after the racist platform for the group was leaked, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) quickly said he was "proud to join @mtgreenee in the #AmericaFirst Caucus."

But the backlash to the caucus — which espoused the white supremacist "Great Replacement" theory that says non-white immigrants pose a threat to the white race — was swift.

Democratic members of Congress did not mince words.

"The Civil War is over and the racists lost. But some House Republicans are still fighting the battle. That's what the so-called America First Caucus is all about," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, tweeted on Saturday.

"A more accurate name for new organization of House Republicans led by Marjorie Taylor Greene would be the White Supremacist Caucus," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted on Friday.

Even Republicans condemned the effort.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who once said Greene made the House Republican conference "diverse" and the country should give her an "opportunity" — condemned her group shortly after news of its existence broke.

McCarthy tweeted on Friday: "America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn't built on identity, race, or religion. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles."

Meanwhile, Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL), one of the Republicans who Punchbowl News reported had agreed to join the caucus, also distanced himself.

"I fully support President Trump's America First agenda & policies that prioritize hardworking Americans. But I will not agree to join any caucus until I've had an opportunity to research their platform — which I haven't done with the AmericaFirst Caucus & therefore haven't joined," Moore tweeted on Saturday.

Greene's apparently failed attempt at launching a white supremacist caucus within the House is just the latest in a string of problems she's caused her party since she first came to Congress in January.

Greene was kicked off her House committees in February after news surfaced that she had "liked" violent threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on social media.

Greene has also slowed down House business by forcing pointless votes to end House business in order to try to delay passage of bills, including the coronavirus relief package.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Report: Right-Wing Terror Attacks Skyrocketed During 2020

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Analysis published by the Washington Post on Monday shows that in 2020, Donald Trump's last year in the White House, the number of far-right domestic terrorism incidents in the United States hit a 26-year high.

The Post analysis, based on data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, found that in 2020, there were 73 incidents carried out by extremists on the far right, the most since the center began keeping statistics on domestic terrorism in 1994.

The report also noted a new high in the number of left-wing attacks, but said that attacks from the right were "still the much larger group." Over the last quarter-century, the study shows, right-wing attacks and plots were far more frequent than attacks from the left and caused many more deaths.

The center reported 25 left-wing attacks in 2020.

While in the White House, Trump ignored the threat of right-wing terrorism and spent his time demonizing the movement of left-wing opposition to white supremacy and fascism known as antifa.

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has released and expanded grants from the Department of Homeland Security to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prevent domestic terrorism, funds that had been held up or redirected by Trump's team.

The center released a report on Monday titled The Military, Police, and the Rise of Terrorism in the United States, stating, "The data indicate that U.S. military personnel have been involved in a growing number of domestic terrorist plots and attacks."

After the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, among whom were many active-duty and retired military service members, the report notes:

In response to these developments, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III pledged to intensify the DoD's effort to combat extremism in the military, remarking, "It concerns me to think that anyone wearing the uniform of a soldier, or a sailor, an airman, Marine, or Guardian or Coast Guardsman would espouse these [extremist] sorts of beliefs, let alone act on them. But they do. Some of them still do." Secretary Austin also signed a memo directing commanding officers and supervisors to conduct a one-day "stand-down" to discuss extremism in the ranks with their personnel. In addition, the DoD launched an investigation in January 2021 to determine the extent to which the department and military have implemented policies and procedures that prohibit advocacy and participation related to white supremacist, extremist, and criminal gang activity by active-duty personnel.

Republicans in Congress and conservative commentators have criticized the initiative, saying that those who support conservative politics will be swept up in the campaign.

The conservative movement, however, has tied itself to these extremist views.

The Washington Post analysis says:

Right-wing extremism began gathering fresh momentum after the election of Barack Obama, the nation's first Black president, according to an April 2009 Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment. "Right-wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda," the assessment said.

After Obama took office, it was none other than Trump who became the most prominent face of the "birther" movement, falsely alleging that Obama was not a natural-born American citizen. Embracing the debunked conspiracy theory did not disqualify Trump from seeking and eventually obtaining the Republican presidential nomination.

After taking office, Trump regularly used his platform to play to right-wing extremists, bashing migrants, demonizing Muslims, blaming Asians for the novel coronavirus, and embracing antisemitism.

These actions generated little criticism from his fellow Republicans.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, ignoring law enforcement warnings about the threat from extremist right-wing conspiracy theories, Trump praised QAnon conspiracy theorists.

As he debated Biden in September 2020, Trump told the white supremacist militia group Proud Boys to "stand by."

That same month, Biden was asked whether he condemned aggressive tactics by members of the antifa movement.

"Yes I do — violence no matter who it is," Biden replied.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Biden Condemns Systemic Racism And White Supremacy In Blunt Terms

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden took aim on Sunday at the "ugly poisons" of "systemic racism and white supremacy" that he said had long plagued the United States, and vowed to change the laws that enabled continued discrimination. In blunt language, the Democratic president said the country faced problems with racism, xenophobia and nativism. Biden's statement followed similar sentiments from Vice President Kamala Harris, who detailed in Atlanta on Friday the U.S history of discrimination against Asian Americans. "Racism is real in America and it has always been," s...

Neo-Nazis Planned Attack On Power Grid If Trump Lost Election

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although terrorist attacks by far-right and white supremacist groups started long before the Trump era, the last four years have found such groups emboldened. And according to Associated Press reporter Amy Forliti, one plot that white supremacists had in mind for the Summer of 2021 involved attacking power stations in the southeastern United States.

Forliti reports that in an affidavit that was "mistakenly unsealed," the FBI alleges that an Ohio-based teenager and informant said he wanted the white supremacists to fast-track their plot if President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. In addition to winning 306 electoral votes, President-elect Joe Biden defeated Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote.

The NBC News reporter explains, "The teen was in a text group with more than a dozen people in the fall of 2019 when he introduced the idea of saving money to buy a ranch where they could participate in militant training, according to the affidavit, which was filed under seal along with a search warrant application in Wisconsin's Eastern U.S. District Court in March. The documents were inadvertently unsealed last week before the mistake was discovered and they were quickly sealed again."

Forliti notes that the teenager "also shared plans with a smaller group about a plot to create a power outage by shooting rifle rounds into power stations in the southeastern U.S. The teen called the plot 'Lights Out,' and there were plans to carry it out in the Summer of 2021, the affidavit states."

The teenager, according to Forliti, allegedly received a text from a white supremacist in Texas who said, "Leaving the power off would wake people up to the harsh reality of life by wreaking havoc across the nation."

"The affidavit says the Ohio teen also spoke numerous times about creating Nazi militant cells around the country like those of the neo-Nazi network the Atomwaffen Division," Forliti explains. "Atomwaffen Division members have promoted 'accelerationism,' a fringe philosophy espousing mass violence to fuel society's collapse. More than a dozen people linked to the group or an offshoot called the Feuerkrieg Division have been charged with serious crimes in recent years."

Jennifer Thornton, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Ohio, told NBC News that she couldn't offer more information about the plot but said, "we want to emphasize that there is no imminent public safety threat related to this matter."

The Trump era has seen some vicious attacks by White racists, from a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas on August 3, 2019 aimed specifically at Latinos to the October 27, 2018 attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. And earlier this year, a combination of white nationalists and militia extremists, according to the FBI, planned to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and possibly kill her.

Alabama Republicans Rebut The Myth Of White Superiority

By way of introduction: Tommy Tuberville is the new Republican U.S. senator from Alabama.

He was previously a successful college football coach at the University of Mississippi, Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Auburn — where his team six times defeated their powerful in-state rival, the University of Alabama. Tuberville — with the strong endorsement of President Donald J. Trump and after a campaign in which, after first announcing he would meet his rivals in public debates, he refused to debate either his primary or general election opponents and did not hold open press conferences or announce his scheduled campaign appearances to press or to the public — still won 60 percent of the vote in November to defeat the Democratic incumbent Doug Jones.

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Trump’s Re-Election Is Confederacy's New ‘Lost Cause’

You can tell a lot about people by studying their priorities.

President Donald Trump is not spending too much time worrying about coronavirus surges and more than 270,000 Americans dead, as Dr. Anthony Fauci offers warnings about being vigilant while waiting for vaccine distribution. You did not hear the president express sympathy for those waiting in long lines for food over the holidays.

Instead, he has played a lot of golf and wailed on Twitter and television, refusing to accept his loss last month to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Oh, yes, and the Justice Department found time to amend protocols to allow firing squads and electrocutions as a means to execute as many federal prisoners as possible before a new administration takes over.

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