In February, a Coast Guard lieutenant was arrested after authorities learned of his plot to kill politicians and journalists as a first step toward creating a “white homeland.” He had already piled up 15 weapons, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and materials for making bombs. Among others, he intended to kill Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Maxine Waters. And the would-be mass murderer had on his list a slate of journalists from CNN and NBC—specifically the journalists that Donald Trump had attacked in his Twitter account. In fact, everyone on his list could be found in a comment from Trump.
The Coast Guard terrorist’s arrest followed the October shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which eleven people died and seven others were wounded. The synagogue shooter targeted the Jewish community specifically because he believed they were involved in a scheme to bring more immigrants into America, “polluting” its white population. The shooter’s social media posts show that he began as a right-wing Trump supporter and became an adamant white nationalist and a supporter of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories spread on Gab and right-wing social media sites.
Right before that came a shooting in which seven people were shot in a Tallahassee yoga studio by a man who was a member of We Are Conservatives and who made YouTube posts ranting about blacks, immigrants, and how disgusted he was about white women in interracial relationships. Right before that was a shooting in a Kentucky Kroger in which the shooter, who had been frustrated when he found the neighboring black church where he had intended to murder people closed, instead went into Kroger and shot black customers.
Right before that, a Jewish student at the University of Pennsylvania was murdered by a former classmate who declared himself a member of the neo-Nazi group “Atomwaffen Division.” And right before that, came the mail bomber who sent sixteen pipe bombs to those he viewed as critics of Donald Trump. That included President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Maxine Waters. The terrorist drove a van covered in stickers and signs signalling his support for Trump and his hatred of Trump’s enemies.
Despite all this, and despite the fact that he was being asked the question in the shadow of a shooting in New Zealand that left 50 dead and 50 others injured, Donald Trump stated that he didn’t think white nationalism was a serious concern. “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.” It wasn’t the first time Trump had said something that seemed shockingly off about these “very fine people.”
But Trump hasn’t just belittled the threat of white nationalism in his statements. He has also taken action—action that directly aids those promoting a violent white nationalist agenda. That includes closing down the unit at the Department of Homeland Security devoted to analyzing domestic terrorism.
As the Daily Beast reports, Trump’s new head of intelligence and analysis, David Glawe, has reorganized his office in DHS. In the process, he eliminated the group dedicated to domestic terrorism and reassigned analysts to other areas. As a result, police departments across the nation have seen a sharp decrease in the material needed to track and investigate white nationalism and related sources of crime and hate.
DHS has pushed back against the reporting, saying that the steps were taken to avoid “redundancy” with the FBI. However, that seems a poor reason to remove an office investigating what is clearly a rising threat—especially when it seems likely the agents were reassigned to threats much less likely than domestic terrorism.
Rather than targeting more people at this area, Trump is targeting fewer. Which seems perfectly fitting with the ease he displays in dismissing the threat—and the bumper stickers on the cars of shooters.