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We Have a White Nationalist Terrorist Problem

Mass shootings like the one in El Paso should be condemned by America’s leaders as terrorism.

If one of the perpetrators of this weekend’s two mass shootings had adhered to the ideology of radical Islam, the resources of the American government and its international allies would mobilize without delay.

The awesome power of the state would work tirelessly to deny future terrorists access to weaponry, money and forums to spread their ideology. The movement would be infiltrated by spies and informants. Its financiers would face sanctions. Places of congregation would be surveilled. Those who gave aid or comfort to terrorists would be prosecuted. Programs would be established to de-radicalize former adherents.

No American would settle for “thoughts and prayers” as a counterterrorism strategy. No American would accept laying the blame for such an attack on video games, like the Texas lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, did in an interview on Sunday when discussing the mass shooting in El Paso that took 20 lives and left 27 people wounded.

In predictable corners, moderate Muslims would be excoriated for not speaking out more forcefully against the extremists in their midst. Foreign nations would be hit with sanctions for not doing enough to help the cause. Politicians might go so far as to call for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Even a casual observer today can figure out what is going on. The world, and the West in particular, has a serious white nationalist terrorist problem that has been ignored or excused for far too long. As President George W. Bush declared in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we must be a country “awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution.”

There are serious questions about how the United States has approached Islamic extremism, but if even a degree of that vigilance and unity of effort was put toward white nationalism, we’d be safer.
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While its modern roots predate the Trump administration by many decades, white nationalism has attained a new mainstream legitimacy during Mr. Trump’s time in office.
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Those who sympathize with the white nationalist ideology but who deplore the violence should work closely with law enforcement to see that fellow travelers who may be prone to violence do not have access to firearms like semiautomatic assault-style weapons that are massively destructive.

Most importantly, American law enforcement needs to target white nationalists with the same zeal that they have targeted radical Islamic terrorists. Ensuring the security of the homeland demands it.

There can be no middle ground when it comes to white nationalism and the terrorism it inspires. You’re either for it or against it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/04/opinion/mass-shootings-domestic-terrorism.html?emc=rss&partner=rss
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