The Biden Administration’s domestic terrorism strategy threatens to criminalize conservative speech and thought.
The Biden Administration's Domestic Terrorism Strategy is an announcement that they're coming for you.
The Biden Administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism is, by its own admission, the first of its kind. The authors call it “America’s first government-wide national Strategy” to eradicate internal opponents of the regime—that is, not only to deter “violent extremism,” but even, in the words of Biden’s opening memo, “to root out the hatreds that can too often drive violence.”
This unprecedented state intervention into every level of American life is justified, the Administration claims, by the unrest that occurred at the Capitol on January 6. That event, while regrettable and ill-judged, has also been thoroughly mythologized into a veritable Reichstag Fire by Democrat politicians, Republican enablers, and a chorus of willing journalists.
A few buffoonish and overzealous protestors have been narrativized into a cabal of organized insurrectionists who brought us, in the words of Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the brink of “a martial state.” One must admire the sinister rhetorical economy of a Party that can invent a threat of martial law while working steadily, and quite in the open, to impose it themselves.
At the heart of this assault on Americans by their government is a lie: the lie that Trump supporters killed Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick on January 6. As Northeastern Political Science Professor Max Abrahms notes in this feature, “Even after the official medical examiner concluded in April that Sicknick died from natural causes, President Biden, MSNBC, and CNN have continued to promote the politically self-serving fiction that he was killed in a terrorist attack.” Now, in the Administration’s new document, this invented murder is presented as the disastrous climax of an equally dishonest story about a supposed plague of right-wing terrorism in America.
“Domestic terrorism is not a new threat in the United States,” the Strategy explains. “It has, over centuries, taken many American lives and spilled much American blood—especially in communities deliberately and viciously targeted on the basis of hatred and bigotry.” What this means in practice is spelled out by a list of gunmen and bombers, all of them inheritors of a line tracing back to the Ku Klux Klan. There is Santino William Legan, who killed three shoppers in northern California, and Patrick Crusius, the suspect in the deadly El Paso shooting. There is Timothy McVeigh, an ex-Army man who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City. And there is a general reference to “violence and xenophobia directed against Asian Americans; the surge in anti–Semitism; and more.”
Nowhere in this sordid tale do we find mentioned the scores of young men, almost all of them Muslim, who were arrested throughout the 2010s under suspicion of collaborating with ISIS. There is not a word about the BLM- and Antifa-led guerilla campaigns that claimed the lives of police officers like David Dorn and ravaged the property of American workers—to the tune, as Pedro Gonzalez notes, of “$1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims.”
Naturally it is not noted that these homegrown terrorists are being not only absolved of criminal charges but egged on by fantastically powerful oligarchs—among them now-Vice President Kamala Harris. None of this is germane as far as the Strategy is concerned: the one great story, the only permissible story, is about white Americans ruthlessly executing minorities.
Many of the cited cases fit uncomfortably within this narrative mold: as Kyle Shideler observes, “the Biden Administration feels obliged to pad its account of domestic threats with a Dallas Black Lives Matter supporter or a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer and SPLC enthusiast.” But mere facts do not deter the report’s authors. They insist: “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (principally those who promote the superiority of the white race) and militia violent extremists are assessed as presenting the most persistent and lethal threats.” Or, to use the words of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (mouthing words prepared for him by countless radical theorists): the problem is “white rage.”
Buried deeper in the Strategy are a few dismissive gestures toward the possibility that other motivations besides conservatism or Trumpism might inspire radicals to take lives: we read, for example, that “other domestic terrorists may be motivated to violence by single-issue ideologies related to abortion-, animal rights-, environmental-, or involuntary celibate-violent extremism, as well as other grievances—or a combination of ideological influences.”
And of course, as Airforce veteran and author John Robb notes, the Strategy can potentially weaponize American government against all Americans, which is one reason why all Americans should be concerned: “As a tool of tribal political warfare, we could see a very different set of targets…and speech limitations…if political power changes hands.” Like “a Patriot Act on steroids,” this Strategy is a blank check for anyone in power to hound, indoctrinate, and arrest American citizens purely on the basis of immediate political interests.
But in this administration, and in the Strategy itself, we know where the focus is and will remain: squarely on those 80-some million Americans who will not stand to see their country overrun by a sadistic Monoparty. If you do not want to see the American way of life twisted into an enforced racial hierarchy and the apparatus of the state aimed squarely against the natural family, the Biden Administration has now announced that it has its eyes on you.
They do not really mind, in the end, if you realize this. In its most frank passages, the Strategy practically dares readers to notice its naked assertions of power. “Today’s domestic terrorists espouse a range of violent ideological motivations, including racial or ethnic bigotry and hatred as well as anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.” Dissent is terrorism and will be prosecuted as such: they know what they sound like. They know you can hear them. They just don’t think you can do anything about it.
It is thus not paranoia to suggest, as many are already doing in private, that this Strategy carries with it not merely the threat, but the express intention, of delegitimizing all kinds of speech and political action on the part of half the country. Empowered by rapidly improving AI and digital technology, this kind of thinking stands to form the basis of a nightmarish and ruthlessly powerful social credit system. When those in power says they want to “root out” those sentiments they characterize as “hatreds,” they have every intention of following through.
Pillar Two of the Strategy is to “PREVENT DOMESTIC TERRORISM RECRUITMENT AND MOBILIZATION TO VIOLENCE.” This means “developing a mechanism by which veterans can report recruitment attempts by violent extremist actors.” It means “Pre-employment background checks and re-investigations for government employees,” i.e., purging the government apparatus of dissenters. And it means “tackling racism in America…ensuring that Americans receive the type of civics education that promotes tolerance and respect for all…acknowledging when racism and bigotry have meant that the country fell short of living up to its founding principles.” Oh yes: they know that parents and school boards across the country are standing up to drive their nasty racialist creed out of local schools. They know, and they intend to put a stop to it.
It is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes to define political action by the opposition as inherently violent and morally unconscionable. When one side can riot, loot, and murder with official sanction, while the other cannot so much as organize without risking a summary imprisonment of indefinite duration, there are not really two sides anymore at all.
These are developments which need attention, and vigorous opposition, now. Tomorrow is too late; today is already getting there. That is why we are focusing attention on this Strategy, and why we have invited a number of contributors to describe the threat and what can be done about it.
There is, running somewhat unwittingly through the Strategy itself, a thread of reasoning which may provide a major key to counteracting it. Again and again the authors stress that the Administration will do its best to force cooperation with its plan at every level of government. “We will…build a community to address domestic terrorism that extends not only across the Federal Government but also to critical partners.” This is a repeated refrain: the federal government will recruit “state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as foreign allies and partners, civil society, the technology sector, academia, and more.”
This is because “the U.S. Government often is not best placed to identify or address issues that will first emerge at the local level.” They need “individuals, families, and local communities” to enlist in the war against Americans.
Very well then: wherever and however we hold any sort of political power, we must not comply. State Governors and legislatures with red majorities must refuse to acquiesce to federally imposed indoctrination or unconstitutional imprisonment of citizens. Constituents must demand this posture of any politician who claims to be a Republican. No one should be allowed to bear that designation who is not expressly committed to fighting against the Biden Administration’s fraudulent and Orwellian scheme at every available opportunity.
And those “individuals, families, and local communities”—upon whom this Administration’s enforcers claim to rely, but whom in fact they are determined to break—must be given the tools to recognize what is being done and the language to denounce it for the abomination it is. We hope this feature will help with that endeavor.