For the last month, the White House has desperately tried to convince hundreds of members of Congress and millions of American voters that President Donald Trump’s long desired border wall is necessary for “national security”. We’ve already been going to great lengths to debunk Trump’s “alternative facts”, but we also want to take this strange moment in American history to shed some light on some real national security threats. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently released a new report on one of these real threats, so let’s dig deeper into the report and take a closer look at the threat that no wall can solve.
Here’s a real threat to national security: Far-right extremist violence
Right-wing extremists committed nearly every extremist murder in 2018.
— ADL (@ADL) January 23, 2019
According to ADL’s new report on far-right extremism, at least 50 Americans were killed in acts of far-right extremist violence last year. While that’s below the record-setting death toll of 72 from far-right extremist violence acts committed in 2016, this still makes 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record. And for the record, the second-deadliest year was 2015.
So what happened last year? For one, there was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting in Parkland, Florida, last February, when 17 people were shot dead by someone with known sympathies to the white supremacist movement. Ten months later outside Louisville, Kentucky, a gunman shot two people dead outside a Kroger supermarket, and the suspect who’s now awaiting trial is accused of deliberately pursuing African-American victims to kill. Around the same time in Pittsburgh, the Tree of Life Synagogue was targeted for attack by someone who long had an affinity for “killing Jews” and and networking with fellow white supremacists online. And just days later, a self-proclaimed “incel” who had previously posted multiple YouTube videos boasting of his misogyny opened fire at a Tallahassee, Florida, yoga studio and killed two people while injuring four others before killing himself.
These are just a few of the bigotry-motivated murders of 2018, and the very forces behind those murders continue to make news in 2019. Just last week, police in Greece, New York, arrested four people who have since been charged with an attempted attack on Islamberg, a secluded and peaceful community of African-American Muslims about 200 miles away. Also last week, a member of the Proud Boys hate group posted a Facebook video threatening the Mayor of Portland, Oregon, and local anti-fascist (or “antifa”) activists. And in Kansas, three members of the anti-Muslim “Crusaders” were sentenced to 30, 26, and 25 years in federal prison (respectively) for their attempts to kill Somalis and Muslims living in Garden City in 2016.
Why do these headlines feel so eerily familiar?
When white people have been asked to share resources and power, they have not responded “by leveling the field; instead, they have expanded the scope of who is considered white, allowing the racial hierarchy to remain more firmly in place.” https://t.co/WyQLzXr7bW
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) January 27, 2019
Here in Nevada, we are no strangers to this kind of far-right extremist activity. This April will mark the five-year anniversary of the Bundy family’s armed standoff with federal agents near Bunkerville. This June will mark the five-year anniversary of two former Bundy acolytes assassinating two Las Vegas Metro Police officers and a third person who tried to stop their attempted “revolution” in East Las Vegas. Less than 18 months ago, a University of Nevada Reno student participated in the “Unite the Right” riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent with the murder of Heather Heyer. And less than eight months ago, a man stopped traffic at the Tillman-O’Callaghan Bridge near Hoover Dam in his attempt to send a message to President Donald Trump about the conspiracy theories peddled by QAnon.
Speaking of Trump, he’s regularly gone easy on these extremists. When he’s not speaking their ideological language, he soft-pedals his already reluctant criticism with “both sides” false equivalency. Just this month, Trump kept quiet over his Republican Party’s internal battle over Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) waxing poetic over “white nationalist language” while he got very loud in advancing their ideological agenda in using the (partial federal) government shutdown to try to force Congress to “keep certain people out”. Though Trump didn’t succeed this time, that isn’t stopping him from continuing to use non-white immigrant communities as scapegoats to rally his base and distract everyone else from inconvenient truths he’d rather not be held accountable to.
As much as Trump proclaims “crime will fall” if we build and pay for his wall, the fact of the matter is that his border wall would do nothing to combat the violent extremism that he himself has helped foment on this side of the border. And if anything, the very concept of “The Wall” is yet another “dog whistle” and symbol for the larger white supremacist agenda that these extremists are hoping Trump’s larger anti-immigrant deportation regime will advance. Perhaps this right here can help us understand why Trump continues to conflate 3rd century barrier “technology” with “border security” while he ignores the very real threats to our national security that can’t be solved by building a wall.