Hours after a white male opened fire on members of Congress, Senate Republicans hosted a hearing on violent extremism. Aside from a perfunctory mention of James T. Hodgkinson’s violent extremist act that very morning, GOP members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs called on a number of Islamophobic “experts” to sidestep the one fact—a fact that numbers, researchers and every law-enforcement agency agree on—about who represent the most immediate terrorist threat in the U.S.: white males.
Entitled Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tool, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism, the Wednesday hearing opened with a statement by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) explaining that the mission of the meeting was “to enhance the economic and national security of America.” Johnson added that the meeting’s purpose was to address border security, cybersecurity and infrastructure and countering extremism.
Johnson ironically noted that “the only way you can solve a problem is to admit you have one,” then proceeded to ignore what the New America Foundation’s Homeland Security program has called the United States’ “biggest threat.”
Because of their Senate and House majority, Republicans were allowed to choose three of the four witnesses who testified in front of the committee. According to the New Republic, despite objections from Democratic members on the panel, GOP leaders selected the following:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: A vocal critic of Islam whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled an “anti-Muslim extremist,” Ali has wrongly stated that Islam is responsible for 70 percent of the violence in the world, and believes that “there is no moderate Islam.”
Asra Nomani: An ardent supporter of President Donald Trump’s travel ban (hey, I didn’t call it that—he did), Nomani refuses to believe FBI statistics that show an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Trump’s election.
John Lenczowski: He blames all of this on Barack Obama’s refusal to say the words “radical Islamic extremists” as president.
Ranking member Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) insisted that the panel was overlooking the fact that the real danger comes “from people who are Americans, or who are legally in this country, who have been radicalized. We face threats from a range of sources, including white supremacists, eco-terrorists, ISIS sympathizers—there is a long list,” but the panel concentrated on Islam; ISIS, or the Islamic State group; and the impending threat of Shariah law—which, again, has never been proposed or instituted by any state, county or municipality in the United States.
The senators, who swore an oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” conveniently forgot the “domestic” part, along with the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion. They also managed to avoid the following:
- The research by the Cato Institute that shows that the chance of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist is 1 in 3.6 million (pdf);
- The nationwide review by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness that found that attacks by race-based extremists have more than doubled, with most attributed to white supremacists;
- The deadly 2017 attacks by Jeremy Christian, James Hodgkinson, Sean Urbanski, James Jackson and Adam Purinton—all white men;
- The arrest of neo-Nazi Brandon Russell, who was found with bomb-making materials, and who witnesses say was planning to “bomb infrastructure”;
- Congress’ own Government Accountability Office (pdf), which reported, “Fatalities resulting from attacks by far-right wing violent extremists have exceeded those caused by radical Islamist violent extremists in 10 of the 15 years, and were the same in 3 of the years since September 12, 2001.”
Maybe this has nothing to do with racism or Islamophobia. Perhaps Republican senators don’t want to upset their base by providing actual solutions. They might be afraid that their “alt-right” constituency will dismiss this as another attack on the white male. Maybe the reason the committee doesn’t want to address the reality that this country is endangered by white males willing to hurt Americans because of their political ideology stems from one simple fact:
Every Republican member of the homeland-security committee is a white man willing to hurt America because of his political ideology.
Isn’t that ironic?
Watch the entire hearing here.