This legislation is less about securing Americans from domestic terrorism, and more about propagandizing a dangerous narrative and enforcing a political bias in our counterterrorism efforts.
Moving swiftly on the wings of the violent disturbance on Capitol Hill on January 6, the newly sworn in Democratic-controlled 117th Congress is pushing a radical domestic terrorism bill that singles out “right-wing” terrorists and labels local law enforcement officials as potential terrorist threats.
Introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) S.894 “The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act” is a companion bill to House bill H.R. 1931 sponsored by Representative Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.). A version of that bill in the previous congress raised Republican ire after Democrats refused to accept any amendments that made reference to Antifa and left-wing terrorism.
The bill includes a long list of findings that reference terrorist acts allegedly committed by white supremacists or other “far-right” actors. It includes no reference to any other threats.
The legislation would create “domestic terrorism” units or offices in the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI as well as a domestic terrorism “executive committee” within the Department of Justice for coordination.
The legislation directs federal law enforcement and intelligence almost solely against perceived “far-right” threats, as the bill declares “far-right-wing extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States” and then directs law enforcement to use “limited resources” only against the most “significant domestic terrorism threats.”
Currently the FBI does not classify terrorism as “far-right” or “far-left” but has categories such as “racially-motivated violent extremist” which includes both white supremacist and black-identity or black separatist ideologies. Similarly, an “anti-government” classification technically includes both militia groups commonly considered far-right as well as Antifa or other left-wing anarcho-Communist threats.
This attempt to cement a partisan bias into U.S. government terrorism doctrine is deeply worrisome.
Common Cause With Antifa
Perhaps even more concerning however, is the way Durbin’s bill enshrines into law anti-police talking points that may as well be straight out of an Antifa or Black Lives Matter pamphlet.
The legislation treats law enforcement and the U.S. military as though they are riddled with white supremacists and neo-Nazis and demands an annual assessment of the “infiltration of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and the uniformed service,” and targeted training to prevent such “infiltration.”
The idea that U.S. law enforcement is systemically white supremacist or cooperates with neo-Nazis is central to Antifa ideology, and based on the movement’s deep roots in the radicalism of 1970s and 80s New Left violence,
the same ideology which drives Antifa today, was that at its core the United States was founded on white supremacy, and therefore needs to be destroyed. Their “Cops and Klan Go Hand in Hand” slogan suggests there is no distinction between neo-Nazis and America’s institutions.
We are already seeing efforts to conduct a purge of law enforcement who merely attended the January 6 “Save America” rally, even those who did not participate in any illegal activity. In some cases, Antifa has taken part in seeking to identify and dox police officers who attended.
In a political environment where an officer’s support for the sitting president is already being counted as evidence of extremism, instituting what is essentially a political commissariat to oversee law enforcement is likely to further accelerate a trend of officers retiring or leaving the force.
Local and state law enforcement are the primary first responders when it comes to all forms of terrorism. Proposing a bill that treats them as suspects suggests that this legislation is less about securing Americans from domestic terrorism, and more about propagandizing a dangerous narrative and enforcing a political bias in our counterterrorism efforts.