National law enforcement experts say that white nationalists and the alt-right should be treated the same way we treat ISIS radicals. Their comments came in an exposé published in the New York Times Magazine. The magazine asserts that federal, state and local governments aren’t prepared to deal with increasing violence from right-wing groups.
The majority of Americans will point to Islamic extremism as the biggest concern for terrorism in the United States. Statistics tell another story.
Statistics from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported that white supremacists and other far-right extremists killed more people since September 11,2001 than any other domestic extremist group. Between 2008 and 2017, 71 percent of extremist-related fatalities in the United States were committed by members of the far-right movement or a white supremacist group. In contrast, 26 percent of the fatalities were caused by Islamic extremists.
However, most law enforcement organizations aren’t working to combat this kind of domestic terrorism. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice notes that, “while thousands of FBI agents have been devoted to counterterrorism, the number of field agents assigned to domestic terrorism has averaged less than 330 in the most recent years for which data is available.”
The report adds, “[E]ven when the FBI looks to counter domestic terrorism, it often minimizes far-right violence while aggressively targeting minority activists and environmentalist movements that have presented a much lower danger.”
Brian Levin is a former New York City police officer and the current head of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, believes law enforcement is ignoring the problem. He told the NYT Magazine about the increase in threats by right-wing extremists over the past two years. He stated:
“There was an unending stream of violent themed chatter and an almost choreographed exchange of web threats between antagonists across wide geographic expanses. This is what public demonstration looks like in an era when white nationalism isn’t on the fringes, but on the inside of the political mainstream.”
Levin noted that the issue isn’t how we deal with Islamic extremists like ISIS, but rather how we don’t deal with right-wing extremists. He explained that we must not ignore “domestic white nationalists or those on their fringes who also represent a violent threat.”
Unfortunately, Levin expects more attacks before law enforcement changes its way of handling these groups. He explained, “What we need to worry about is the guy who is rile up by [the White House’s] rhetoric and decides to go out and do something on his own. We have people who are ticking time bombs.”