FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Domestic Terrorism in the Age of Trump

by

Harassment, intimidation, and physical violence against religious and ethnic minorities is on the rise. And some experts worry the Trump administration is making things worse.

The attack on a Portland commuter train by a knife-wielding white nationalist who was screaming anti-Muslim insults overshadowed other recent crimes apparently motivated by bigotry — including a machete attack against a black man in California and the killing of a Native American man by the driver of a pickup truck who was terrorizing a group of picnicking friends.

Just outside Washington, D.C. recently, an African American student on the verge of graduating from college was murdered by a white student who was reportedly a member of an online “alt-Reich” group. Nooses have been placed in a number of prominent locations, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Southern Poverty Law Center documented almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election. “Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults,” the SPLC reported, “making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017. There’s also been a surge in violent attacks on Indian Americans and Sikhs, sometimes by people mistakenly identifying them as Muslims or Arabs.

What’s going on?

Violence motivated by bigotry obviously didn’t begin with Trump. But there’s no question that Trump’s rise has inflamed racial resentments and unleashed something dangerous. His campaign excited white nationalists, beginning with his first speech vilifying Mexican immigrants and continuing with his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Trump’s suggestion that the Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel couldn’t rule fairly because of his family’s Mexican origins sent a signal: Real, trustworthy Americans are white. Trump’s close alliance with some conservative Christian leaders sends another signal: Real Americans are Christians.

Some hateful people take these signals as permission to openly express and act on bigotries that were previously understood to be unacceptable.

Indeed, by putting Steve Bannon in senior campaign and White House positions, Trump made it clear that promoting bigotry is no bar to service in his administration. Bannon’s leadership of a right-wing website was praised by a prominent neo-Nazi leader for making the site “hardcore.”

These signals were amplified by the appointment of Jeff Sessions, a Voting Rights Act critic and promoter of anti-immigrant policies, to be U.S. attorney general.

In the face of a growing bipartisan consensus on criminal justice reform, Sessions is trying to take the country in the opposite direction, pushing aggressively for mass incarceration and undermining previous Justice Department efforts to hold police accountable for racially motivated violence.

Arlie Perliger, a Massachusetts professor who works with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, argues that right-wing violence grounded in white supremacist ideology should be treated as domestic terrorism.

But the Trump budget proposal released in May zeroes out funding for a Homeland Security program that gives grants to communities to counter violent extremism. Reuters reported that the administration has also frozen $10 million in grants that had already been allocated.

Generations of Americans have struggled and continue to struggle to make liberty and justice for all a reality in our increasingly diverse society. But with Trump as their leader, opponents of pluralism are demanding a return to some undefined period when America was “great.”

They’re at war with what America has been becoming. And while the Trump administration may give proof to the axiom that truth is the first casualty of war, it’s sadly not the last.

Peter Montgomery is a senior fellow at People For the American Way.

Distributed by OtherWords.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine


bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

August 22, 2017
Edward Hunt
The U.S. is Fanning the Flames of Violence in Mexico
James Bovard
My Antiwar Awakening From a Boozing Baltimore Vet
Richard Greeman
Racism: North and South
Gregory Barrett
The Karma of Terror
Robert Fisk
Pig’s Blood Bullets: Trump’s Big Lie About the Philippines
Howard Lisnoff
The Streets: the Only Place Where Democracy Lives
Michael J. Sainato
Police Have Made No Arrests Over Charlottesville Assault of 20 Year-Old Deandre Harris
Dan Bacher
Winnemem Wintu, Fishing Groups Sue to Block Ecosystem-Killing Delta Tunnels
Monica Bond
A Wildlife Hero Lost, But His Legacy Lives On
Binoy Kampmark
Target Finding for the Empire: the NSA and the Pine Gap Facility
Dana Cook
Encounters With Dick Gregory: From Malcolm X to Howard Zinn
Tom Gill
Italy’s Water Crisis is a Private Affair
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Another Palestinian-American Deported: the Case of Rasmea Odeh
Vern Loomis
Blood and Soil: Hey Joe, Where You Goin?
August 21, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
A Plea for Nonviolence: Fighting Fascism in Trump’s America
Robert Hunziker
The National Climate Assessment and National Park Neglect
Matthew Hoh
The Lies on Afghanistan 
Kenneth Surin
Narratives of Decline Among the US and UK Elites
Timothy B. Tyson
The History We Leave Out of Our Public Spaces
John Laforge
“We Burned Down Every Town in North Korea”
Gary Leupp
Trump and the Impending Statue Battles
Dave Lindorff
The Virtues of Tearing Down Statues Depends on Where They are Standing
Susan Babbitt
Why the Surprise About North Korea’s Resistance?
Uri Avnery
The Egg of Columbus 
Andre Vltchek
The World Remembers 64th Anniversary of the West-Sponsored Coup in Iran
Jimmy Centeno
The Gentrification of LA: Fight on Boyle Heights
Raouf Halaby
To Remove or Not to Remove?
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Collapsing World
Victor Grossman
Charlottesville and Thuringia
Lydia Howell
Racist Masks Ripped Off in Charlottesville
Nyla Ali Khan
The Woman Question in South Asia
Weekend Edition
August 18, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Why Trump Could Be Gone Before 2020
John Steppling
America Asleep
Jeffrey St. Clair
To See or to Nazi: Trump’s Moral Blindspot is America’s
Vincent Emanuele
The Fetishization of Violence: Reflections on Charlottesville, WWII and Activism
Peter A. Coclanis
Why Trump Isn’t a Populist
Rob Urie
Imperial Death Spiral
Sam Husseini
How “Both Sides” Forge U.S. Supremacy: the Nationalistic Hypocrisies of “Violence” and “Free Speech”
David Rosen
Permanent War, Permanent Failure
Patrick Cockburn
Endtimes in Mosul
Dave Lindorff
Discovering Racism and Then Discovering It Anew
Richard Hardigan
Israel Continues Its Attack on Palestinian Freedom of Expression
Alexander Cockburn
Two Sides to Every Issue: the Tedium Twins Debate the Crucifixion, Slavery and Cannibalism
Pete Dolack
Life Under Capitalism: Early Deaths a ‘Silver Lining’ for Corporations
John Laforge
Peace Camp and War Games at Harvest Time
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail