The violence of the recent Charlottesville rally has brought the threat of white supremacy and neo-Nazism to the forefront of everyone’s minds. However, the threat of white supremacy has always been with us and the government had even taken some steps to combat it. One example was a $400,000 grant to the organization Life After Hate. This group is dedicated to helping de-radicalize neo-Nazis and help them build a life free of white supremacy. Unfortunately, shortly after taking office, the Trump administration pulled the funding for that grant and allocated to the fight against Islamic terrorist groups.
The aide was pulled due to the work of Katharine Gorka, a pro-Trump national security analyst known for hardline anti-Muslim views. In December of last year, while part of a Trump’s transition team, Gorka met with the leader of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism program. This program was responsible for handling the grants such as the one giving to Life After Hate. Gorka told the program’s leader, George Selim, that she didn’t agree with the Obama administration’s handling of extremism. In particular, she was frustrated with Obama’s refusal to avoid terms like “radical Islam.”
After Trump’s inauguration, Gorka said that “I predict with absolute certitude, the jettisoning of concepts such as CVE.”
The CVE wasn’t completely dismantled upon Trump taking office, but then-DHS Secretary John Kelly did conduct a review of the program and the various grant recipients. Upon completion of the review, it was determined that Life After Hate would be one of the groups whose funding would be cut. Life After Hate, along with several other groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, were told that the department wanted to work more closely with law-enforcement. Their grant money would instead be used for groups that work with law-enforcement.
The ironic thing about this statement is that despite their talk of law enforcement, Trump’s DHS actually ignored the advice of law-enforcement when it came to the threat posed by white supremacist organizations. While the DHS was conducting its review of the CVE, the FBI and the DHS released an internal memo discussing the threat posed by white supremacist groups. This memo warned that Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacy groups were the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat in the United States. According to the report, white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”
Unfortunately, the Trump administration has done little to combat the growing threat of white supremacy. In fact, according to reformed Neo-Nazi, and co-founder of Life After Hate, Christian Piccolini, the White House’s rhetoric may be emboldening white supremacists.
‘We’ve also seen that underground this has been growing, but it’s also been shape shifting. It’s gone from what we would have considered very open neo-Nazis and skinheads and KKK marching, to now people that look like our neighbors, our doctors, our teachers, our mechanics. And it’s certainly starting to embolden them because a lot of the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House today is so similar to what we preached … but in a slightly more palatable way.’
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