The Plot Against Whitmer Won’t Be The Last White Supremacist ThreatRoundup
tags: far right, political violence, White Supremacy, militias
Kathleen Belew is author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America and is assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago.
FBI agents have disrupted and stopped what they say was a conspiracy by militia movement members to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.). They discussed arson of her vacation home and other targets and kidnapping her for “trial.”
This isn’t just a one-off event or the work of a few mad actors — it’s part of a rising tide of white power activity, one that poses an imminent danger to American democracy. The Department of Homeland Security’s threat assessment report, released earlier this week after a long wait, made that clear: White power movement violence and affiliated extremism is, by far, the greatest terrorist threat to our nation.
Not only does this kind of extremist violence outstrip any violence carried out by what President Trump has referred to as “antifa and the left,” but white power violence now also exceeds the threat of radical Islamist terror. The DHS assessment makes clear that “2019 was the most lethal year for extremism in the United States since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.”
That bombing, the largest deliberate mass casualty on mainland American soil between Pearl Harbor and 9/11, is still not well understood by Americans. People still think of it as the work of lone wolves or a few bad apples. But the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people — including 19 young children — was the work of the white power movement, a coordinated social network that brought together Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, militiamen, radical tax resisters, separatists and others in outright war on the federal government. The evidence of the bombing as part of this movement is extensive and irrefutable.
And it presaged the problem we face now. Twenty-five years later, the threat of white power domestic terrorism is inescapable. Experts agree. Watchdogs agree. Whistleblowers agree. Deradicalizers agree. Scholars agree. Everyone, it seems, but the upper echelons of the Trump administration, and the most unreachable corners of his base, agree: White power violence has been unleashed.
I studied the earlier white power movement for more than a decade. Now I'm very concerned that more violence is imminent, and that these ideologies pose an imminent threat to our democracy and to people going about their everyday lives.
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