Truthout, April 7, 2021
Mainstream Democrats are in a hawkish mood when it comes to “domestic terrorism.” That is bad news for the left.
Immediately upon taking office, President Biden “tasked the director of national intelligence, in coordination with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, with compiling a comprehensive threat assessment on violent domestic extremism,“ according to The Washington Post. This request was prompted by the right-wing attack on the Capitol on January 6.
The resulting report, “Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat in 2021,” was submitted on March 1, and its executive summary was released publicly a few days later. While its list of findings include some obvious observations — for example, that extremists are “motivated by a range of ideologies” and use the internet “to recruit, plan and rally support for in-person actions” — the final page of the executive summary, listing “Categories of Domestic Violent Extremists,” reveals a concerning typology. It identifies five classifications: “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists,” “Animal Rights / Environmental Violent Extremists,” “Abortion-Related Violent Extremists,” “Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Violent Extremists” and “All Other Domestic Terrorism Threats” (“including a combination of personal grievances and beliefs with potential bias related to religion, gender, or sexual orientation”).
The most striking thing about this classification system — which seems to have been developed by the FBI during the Trump years — is its perverse refusal to divide between left and right, instead grouping opposing sides together under other categories. Right-wing militias, sovereign citizens and anarchists, for example, are all listed under “Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Violent Extremists.” Racist and anti-racist violence is compressed into “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists.”