The Biden Administration’s domestic terrorism strategy threatens to criminalize conservative speech and thought.
The Hunt for Dissidents
Summoning an imaginary specter of white supremacy, the Administration declares war on all who oppose the powerful.
On June 15, President Joe Biden unveiled his battle plan for the war on domestic terrorism. His pitchfork is aimed specifically at the scarecrow of white supremacy. “We cannot ignore this threat or wish it away,” Biden wrote in the strategy document. “Preventing domestic terrorism and reducing the factors that fuel it demand a multifaceted response across the federal government and beyond.”
Summarized by the sympathetic New York Times, Biden’s so-called “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” calls for “improving information sharing among law enforcement agencies, preventing recruitment by extremist groups, investigating such groups and confronting the longstanding drivers of domestic terrorism: racism and bigotry.” It entails swelling the ranks of an already bloated bureaucracy with more prosecutors and intelligence analysts—jobs that would naturally attract the pettiest of petty tyrants.
Moreover, only a very specific flavor of racism and bigotry is on the menu. The introductory paragraph of the document places all of our troubles on the shoulders of white Americans. And indeed, the definition of white supremacy preferred among our chattering classes is sufficiently elastic to make at least 26% of Americans into criminals—probably more. Whatever they don’t like, they can redefine as white supremacy and therefore terrorism. They have that power now.
In the background, as Biden declared war, those with ears to hear caught the sound of a shooting spree that stretched across Georgia and Alabama over the weekend.
On June 11, Justin Tyran Roberts, a black man, shot a white man as he exited his vehicle in Phenix City, Alabama. Roberts subsequently fled across the state line into Columbus, Georgia, and shot two more white males.
He selected his final victim on Saturday, June 12. Roberts shot several times at a white man as he entered his vehicle in a parking garage under the Oglethorpe Bridge at Fourth Street and Broadway. Recovered at the scene were six shell casings; one bullet found its mark in the man’s back, the other four had torn into the vehicle. “I had to have him,” Roberts would tell the police.
Fortunately, all of Roberts’s victims survived—some of them were even released from the hospital in time to hear Biden declare them public enemy number one. Prosecutor Nicholas Hud characterized the shootings as random in the aftermath. But Roberts told detectives he had carefully claimed his victims: he was gunning for white people. This was not an isolated incident: on Saturday, Othal Wallace was apprehended by the Daytona Beach Police Department on suspicion of shooting a cop in the name of black nationalism.
All groups are capable of interracial violence; in 21st-century America, some groups are perpetrating it more than others. The Roberts shootings came on the heels of other attacks on whites as well as rising interracial crime against Asians. As noted by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, the preponderance of the evidence shows that black assailants are predominantly fueling these increases in violence. But none of this fits the narrative of omnipresent white terrorism theorized in the apocalyptic lectures of academics, pandered to by corporations, popularized by the politico-media complex, and instrumentalized by the government. This socially constructed specter of a white supremacist threat justifies treating Americans as terrorists based on their political opinions.
Biden’s plan also calls for considering a new domestic extremism law—i.e., a Patriot Act directed at white males instead of jihadists. However, no such law is necessary, and the absence of one makes these stirrings in the machinery of bureaucracy all the more nefarious.
The Enforcement Arm
Launching a total war on domestic terrorism without creating a new domestic terror law means that there’s nothing to repeal; administrators will simply hardwire the “strategy” into the government. A new law would certainly spell trouble, but the absence of one means that this plan merely becomes a function of the bureaucracy. Moreover, the muscles of the anti-racist regime are already in place.
Biden’s strategy means the marriage of the Civil Rights Act and the security state. The former gives the government the power to infringe on every freedom you have in the name of anti-racism; the latter brings to bear the surveillance and enforcement apparatuses on domestic affairs. This fusion was well underway before June 15, and we have already seen glimpses of what is to come.
In January, Yahoo News ran a story about bitcoin payments to right-wing activists made a month before the Capitol Building incident. The transactions came from an account created in 2013 and linked to a computer programmer based in France. An apparent suicide note indicated the programmer believed the recipients were worthy of his fortune; they included the VDARE website and commentator Nick Fuentes, neither of which pose material threats to anyone—as Yahoo admitted. “While there’s no evidence that Fuentes directly participated in the Capitol riot, something he has so far denied,” wrote Jenna McLaughlin, “the financial resources of prominent right-wing actors are of growing interest to law enforcement.”
The point of this is to spook Americans into viewing decentralized currencies as existential threats to themselves when they are, instead, threats to the established order. In fact, the Pentagon conducted a war game in 2018 wherein masses of disenchanted Americans utilized “sophisticated malware to siphon funds from corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits that support ‘the establishment,’” The Intercept reported. In that scenario, the funds, deemed untraceable by law enforcement, were converted to Bitcoin and redistributed away from the wealthy to everyday people. Thus, things like Bitcoin undermine the security of the regime because they allow people to survive outside economic power structures that act as instruments of surveillance and coercion. Cryptocurrency is important because of the threat it reveals.
Bitcoin means banks cannot close your accounts, as they have done to Donald Trump, or show your personal information to the FBI, as Bank of America has done to Trump supporters. It’s no surprise, then, that Biden’s plan proposes to effectively criminalize opposition to the prevailing economic system and its institutions. Those opposing “capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions, which they perceive as harmful to society,” are flagged in the strategy document as latent extremists or extremists in full. Republicans mumble outdated complaints about “socialism,” but the surveillance state we face exists to enforce existing power structures, including by criminalizing opposition to its system of economic transactions and controls. The real extremists are the ones running the show.
On May 5, Revolver News published an exposé of Bishop Garrison, the Pentagon’s hatchet man in charge of heading the military’s “Countering Extremism” task force. His official title is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Diversity and Inclusion—and he is a dyed-in-the-wool anti-white militant.
Garrison links the concept of “white nationalist extremism,” which he intends to install in the Pentagon’s operating system, to the New York Times’s 1619 Project. The specter of white supremacy, he says, poses a clear and present “nation-ending” threat against which we must unleash “the totality of the national security apparatus.” The ideas underpinning Garrison’s approach were cooked up by revolutionary African-American activists in the late 1960s and are now being drawn from the most radical corners of academia for integration with the national security apparatus. Today they’ve most prominently manifested as “critical race theory,” and they place “whiteness” at the root of all evil.
A recent paper in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association characterized “whiteness” as a “parasitic-like condition” for which there is “not yet a permanent cure,” and whose “deformed appetites particularly target nonwhite peoples.” In April, psychiatrist Aruna Khilanani told students at the Yale School of Medicine she “had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any White person that got in my way, burying their body and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step.” This is the world from which Garrison has emerged a bloodthirsty ideologue, and his own musings are just as extreme. “The racism that threatens lives and security will not magically vanish,” he wrote to the national security community in Foreign Policy. “It will not draw back or resolve itself. It must be cut out like the cancer it has been for so long.”
Disagreement over anti-racism, diversity, immigration, and so on is no longer a matter of debate. As the federal government mainstreams these ideas into defense priorities, they become, Garrison says, “the right thing to do morally but also a matter of national security”—and this cuts only in one direction. As historian of ideas Pierre-André Taguieff explains, anti-racism is “but a symbolic weapon that reduces racism to white racism that is supposed to be inherent in ‘white society’ or ‘white domination,’ which is the only form of domination recognized and denounced by neo-anti-racists.” Therefore, anti-white racism cannot, by definition, exist in this scheme.
As the leader of the newly created Countering Extremism Working Group, Garrison’s job will be to “specifically define what constitutes extremist behavior.” In other words, to police opinions and cultivate ideological hygiene within the military. That’s not hyperbole; a memo shows his task force will address “‘gray areas,’ such as reading, following and liking extremist material and content in social media forums and platforms.” Taking cues from libertarians, the Pentagon intends to bypass First Amendment protections on monitoring troops’ personal lives by outsourcing to a private surveillance firm.
But why stop with military personnel? Civilians are up for scrutiny too: Tucker Carlson has already claimed the NSA is spying on him which, if true, means they have no scruples about keeping tabs on people merely out of political animus. Both Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have insisted that “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” of the white variety are the gravest domestic threats facing the country. To that end, a Homeland Security spokesperson told Politico the agency is increasingly “focused on the nexus between violence and extremist ideologies, as well as hateful and false narratives.” In the background of those comments are claims of election-rigging in 2020. “DHS is enhancing its ability to prevent acts of violence inspired by disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremist narratives spread through social media and other online platforms.”
Views commonly held by conservatives are now “extremist narratives” as valid questions of election integrity morph into “extremist” questioning of election integrity. Even the Postal Service is getting involved in these ideological gatekeeping efforts. In a hitherto covert surveillance program known as iCop run by the law enforcement arm of the Post Office, analysts cast a digital dragnet over social media in search of “inflammatory” posts, sharing what they find across government agencies. Offending content is flagged as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through Homeland Security’s fusion centers. A government bulletin obtained by Yahoo News notes analysts have taken a particular interest in “right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.” You may have once worried about the mailman reading your mail—now, he’s trawling your social media for red flags.
Power to the Powerful
This focus on the Right and on white supremacy, utilizing the Capitol Building incident as a pretense for this crackdown, is outrageous when framed against last year’s Black Lives Matter riots.
Property Claim Services, an internationally recognized authority on insured property losses, has estimated that arson, vandalism, and looting following George Floyd’s death cost $1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims. That makes them the most destructive in recent history—to say nothing of the lives lost. And unlike the Trump supporters currently rotting in D.C. jails, being “viciously and savagely” beaten by guards, hundreds of looters have had charges against them dropped in places like New York by friendly prosecutors.
There is no legitimate basis for the claims and methods of the Biden administration, and that is by design. The entire superstructure of academia, NGOs, deracinated capital, and the federal leviathan draw their legitimacy, wealth, prestige, and purpose from the anti-racist ideology embraced by the established political order. Tearing out the heart of this would spring the entire system into the air. But if white supremacy provides the pretext, why the broader focus on the Right?
Simply put, the key positions of the Right today—anti-interventionism, anti-globalism, and immigration restrictionism—are directly opposed to the United States regime’s interests. Some of these right-wing positions used to be shared by the Left, but no longer. Now, MSNBC host Joy Reid, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, Citigroup, and the Democratic Socialists of America have virtually identical policy preferences and, with one voice, denounce “white rage.” Indeed, Biden, who is regularly impugned as a socialist by conservatives, has made protecting the most powerful and corrupt financial institutions a national security priority. The Left has collapsed as a revolutionary movement; it is fundamentally an establishment faction and is striking back to consolidate its hegemony.
There is, however, good news. As the managerial regime presses the use of the “systemic racism” canard to conceal and justify its means and ends, new coalitions may become possible. Highlighting the regime’s contradictions, showing that its anti-racism and egalitarianism merely mask its political-industrial-financial interests, will accelerate the decline of traditional divisions of Left and Right. The conflict thus becomes one between beneficiaries and overseers of the established political order and those who refuse to be hunted and exploited in their own country.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.