It’s no secret that having Donald Trump in the Oval Office has emboldened and empowered white supremacists and ultra-nationalist groups around the country. With each day that passes under the Trump administration, America has felt less safe for people of color. Immediately following Trump’s victory, racists and bigots around the nation felt vindicated, and hate crimes skyrocketed across the country.
Instead of changing course to protect disadvantaged and oppressed Americans, however, Trump’s white house has just taken a step in the opposite direction by exempting white supremacist groups from federal efforts meant to prevent violent domestic terrorism.
This change comes in the form of removing groups like the KKK and neo-Nazi parties from surveillance by the Countering Violent Extremism program. The Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE program, was originally designed to stop ALL forms of terrorism in the United States, and protect ALL Americans. Instead of prioritizing the safety of the country, however, Trump is using CVE to push his own anti-Muslim agenda by renaming the agency to Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.
Trump’s obsession with the term “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout his campaign is starting to have real consequences, as he weakens and dismantles one of our country’s terrorist prevention programs to become a tool for oppression as opposed to protection.
As if further singling out and alienating the Muslim community in America isn’t bad enough, this change also serves to empower the racists and bigots in American society. Now that “alt-right” neo-Nazi and racist groups are no longer monitored by the CVE, they are free to spread hateful sentiments against people of color and LGBTQ Americans around the country.
By taking groups like these off of a terrorist watch list, Donald Trump is sending a clear message to his supporters, indicating that racist and xenophobic violence is now officially endorsed by the White House as somehow not as bad as other forms of terrorism.
Instead of using the Countering Violent Extremism initiative to surveil white supremacist hate groups and rehabilitate them in the past, he is now abusing the program to focus American attention on “radical Islamic terrorism”. This creates an “us-against-them” mentality among his supporters, spreading false notions of Islam as a violent religion when a staggering majority of Muslims are peaceful people.
Contrary to Donald Trump’s claims that he is a president with a desire to protect all Americans, he seems to be instead focused on spreading hate while ignoring the rapidly growing threat of homegrown white-power motivated hate groups.
This threat is indeed rapidly growing, with the number of national KKK chapters increasing from 72 to 190 over the past two years, and huge congregations of Trump supporters giving the Nazi salute on Election Day. Instead of tackling these huge and growing threats head on, Trump’s decision to take these groups off of the Countering Violent Extremism list indicates that his world view might be even more twisted than we thought: by naming his new program Countering Radical Islamic Terrorism, Trump is putting into policy that being a Muslim person is more dangerous than being a neo-Nazi.
It’s time to stand up to his racist, ineffective, and hateful policies, and tell the Trump administration that we won’t let him use tools like the Countering Violent Extremism program to further his own backwards agenda.
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