Donald Trump is a leading driver of domestic extremism

Donald Trump is a leading driver of domestic extremism

Donell Harvin writes:

Federal intelligence and national security agencies — from the FBI to DHS — are in universal agreement that domestic extremism and terrorism is the leading threat to the U.S. homeland. But homeland security officials are also trained to be apolitical, so here’s what they can’t tell you: Donald J. Trump poses a significant threat to homeland security.

While generally highly decentralized and fractured, violent extremist groups have begun to mesh over a unifying figure: Trump. The former president has become a focal point of domestic extremism, and by not denouncing them — and sometimes courting them — he has been adopted by these groups as a de facto spiritual leader. In some ways, Trump has also co-opted these groups to boost his own support. This, in my assessment, makes the former president a leading driver of domestic extremism, and an unprecedented danger to our security. The indictment of Trump for his push to overturn the 2020 election puts that in stark relief.

I do not issue this assessment lightly. Such statements are considered blasphemy in domestic intelligence circles and will undoubtedly draw the ire of many both inside and outside of the profession. To name a political figure, or any prominent U.S. person, in a domestic intelligence assessment is taboo. Intelligence analysts and the agencies that oversee them are taught to not politicize threat assessments. To do so would potentially run afoul of civil rights and civil liberties and the First Amendment.

But times have drastically changed since the Trump presidency began. Even as the homeland security profession has resisted involving itself in politics, politically motivated violence has emerged as a major threat to our homeland. This has led to the rise of stochastic terrorism, which occurs when prominent figures demonize, marginalize or openly target a specific group or individual and violence ensues.

Trump’s affinity for violent extremists and conspiracy theorists is an unspoken concern for many homeland security professionals. Throughout his presidency, he consistently failed to condemn white supremacists and far-right militia groups and created an environment ripe for potential violence. More importantly, the legitimization of extremists and so-called “patriots” by Trump and other prominent Republicans has helped them win converts to their violent ideologies. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.