A Vacuous and Potentially Dangerous Response to Domestic Terrorism

On June 15, the White House issued a "Fact Sheet: National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism."  This fact sheet is strangely devoid of facts and is vacuous in the extreme, but it communicates that the present administration sees a connection between defeating terrorism and having a government-controlled economy.

Is it not true that vacuous thoughts presented as though they were serious and careful are almost always dangerous?  Based upon this principle of understanding, the "national strategy" is one of the most dangerous documents I have read in my lifelong study of U.S. history.

The shift from domestic terrorism to much greater control by the federal government of our economy on the last page of the document is the product of a sleight of hand or a verbal shell game.  The reader thinks he is reading about one thing but finds that the Fact Sheet finishes with conclusions about matters not even remotely implied by the title of the report.

"Countering domestic terrorism" is more of a buzz term than a specific goal.  It implies a complete takeover of vast areas of our lives by the federal government, but since this will be done under the slogan of countering domestic terrorism, that takeover is supposed to make us feel more safe.  After all, who in his right mind wants his rear end shot up by some terrorists?

The Fact Sheet includes the definition of domestic terrorism in federal law: "intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."  Not one example of domestic terrorism is provided.

That means no mention of the Fort Hood mass shooting, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the San Bernardino Christmas massacre, the Las Vegas massacre, the D.C. sniper, the aggressions against the Capitol of Jan. 6, 2021, the Boston Marathon bombing, the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and other congressmen in Florida, the riots, murders, burning of buildings, and lootings in cities nationwide during the past year, and of course 9/11.  The point to be seen here is that not one of these events is included in the so-called Fact Sheet on domestic terrorism.  Again, no facts.

Then, on page three, still without providing one example, the document boldly proclaims that the two most disturbing areas of domestic violence are those "who advocate for the superiority of the white race" and "anti-authority violent extremists, such as militia violent extremists."  What could be more "anti-authority" than all the riots and aggressive, name-calling protests and Molotov cocktail–throwing "protests" against the police?  What about domestic terrorism by those who advocate for the inherent badness of the white race or the abolition of capitalism?  Yet, instead, the document surprisingly points its ignorant finger at "militias."

Suddenly on page 6, we find our first example, our first real-world example, of a practical connection to fighting terrorism.  The document states, "The United States also recently joined the 'Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online,' an international partnership between governments and technology companies that works to develop new multilateral solutions to eliminating terrorist content online[.]"  This Christchurch Call to Action was an initiative begun by president of France Emmanuel Macron and the prime minister of New Zealand in 2019 after an attack of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand killed 51 people.  Their program is to enlist countries to partner with leading internet platforms to prevent the uploading of extreme and violent content.

Instead of governments regulating these private entities that control Big Tech, they are "partnering" with them to provide surveillance and censorship.  The companies are not accountable to citizens or to the governments but are working as partners.  This format is dangerous because of the inherent lack of control over the participants.  Thus, New Zealand, France, and other countries along with the Mark Zuckerbergs and Tim Cooks of this world will be deciding in some ways what information can and cannot be transmitted to the people of the USA.  The Call was adopted at its start-up meeting by France, New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Norway, Senegal, the U.K., and the European Commission as well as Amazon, Facebook, Dailymotion, Google, Microsoft, Qwant, Twitter, and YouTube.  Other countries who have adopted the Call but were not at the meeting are Australia, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.  Now Mr. Biden and the Democoms want to get on board.

What kind of an ex officio arrangement is this?  Is it an agreement?  A treaty needing Senate approval?  What laws and rules will regulate this "cooperative" and its representatives when they meet?  What oversight is in place to ensure the First Amendment rights of American citizens on the internet and off?  How is it that Amazon, where I buy some vitamins or toothpaste, is now "helping" protect the world from terrorism?  Most importantly, why is it that the one reference to a terrorist event in this document is not domestic, but took place in a distant country?  This international cabal is the only specific, institutional, practical response mentioned in this Fact Sheet about American domestic terrorism.  Why is that?

U.S. participation in an extra-governmental consortium is experienced by this writer as a threatening and inappropriate development and should be understood this way by every thinking person in our country.  Where is the outcry by our elected leaders?  What kind of stupid, gutless people have we elected who are failing to understand and speak up when a document as devoid of logic and examples, and with a potentially sinister insertion, is presented to the public?

By the last page of the document, after repeating ad nauseam the dangers of domestic terrorism without specific facts, plans, logical inferences, or historical references except for our participation in the France–New Zealand initiative (not resulting from U.S. domestic terrorism), the domestic terrorism fact sheet suddenly reminds the public of the supposed "relief and opportunity" provided by three of the administration's legislative economic initiatives.  Thus, for the occupant of the White House, the expansion of the government's direction of the economy is part and parcel of our quest for safety from domestic terrorism.  Vast new governmental expenditures plus vast new strategies of domestic surveillance will together bring more security to our land.  This is Big Brother thinking on steroids.

Inserting this claim at the end of the Fact Sheet is just another example of the incoherence and lack of persuasiveness of this document.  Although poorly conceived and written, the Fact Sheet reveals the administration's intention to tighten government's grip on the lives of the people, and exposes a dangerous development — namely, our participation in a shadowy entity created by "the Call." 

Image: Tom Hilton via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.