Team Trump sought to redirect government focus from far-right terrorism. We all know why

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12: Rescue workers and medics tend to people who were injured as a car with the license plate GODKPME that was hit after another car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The car plowed through the crowed following the shutdown of the "Unite the Right" rally by police after white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" and counter-protesters clashed near Emancipation Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If you want a quick rundown of some of the ways Donald Trump’s team of hard-right conservatives has sought not just to downplay far-right domestic terrorism threats but to weaken the ability of government to investigate them in the first place, the Los Angeles Times’ Molly O’Toole has you covered.

From the beginning moments of Trump’s administration, his appointees moved to shift government resources away from investigating white nationalist and other far-right threats to focus near-exclusively on foreign-based, and specifically Islamic, terrorism. Trump’s team shifted Homeland Security grants to combat extremist radicalization so that nearly all—85%—were aimed at Muslim and non-white groups. Trump himself was blunt about the intent, originally seeking to rename the program itself from “Countering Violent Extremism” to “Countering Islamic Extremism.”

In subsequent years, Trump’s team has all but shuttered a Homeland Security office devoted to domestic terrorism prevention, slashing the budget from $24 million to $3 million.

This did not happen either in a vacuum or coincidentally. An Obama-era counterterrorism report that identified right-wing extremism, i.e., white nationalism, as a breeding ground for domestic terrorism was met with such fury on the right that the counterterrorism expert responsible was hounded out of government. According to conservatives (and Fox News hosts), the report on the far-right racist fringes of the nation was an attempt to demonize conservatism itself and could not be stomached; why those conservatives identified so strongly with those radical extremists was, of course, not considered a polite question to ask.

That outrage lodged in the heads of the Fox News crowd as yet another of the hundreds of conspiracy theories that the movement is now premised on, and when Trump surrounded himself with those same conspiracy theorists, one of their first acts was to take steps to ensure that law enforcement officials did not monitor far-right extremists with the same urgency as they did foreign far-right groups. The far-right was, after all, now Trump’s “base.”

Leave a Comment