Who Is A “Terrorist” In Biden’s America?

Far from being a war against “white supremacy,” the Biden administration’s new “domestic terror” strategy clearly targets primarily those who oppose US government overreach and those who oppose capitalism and/or globalization.

In the latest sign that the US government’s War on Domestic Terror is growing in scope and scale, the White House on Tuesday revealed the nation’s first ever government-wide strategy for confronting domestic terrorism. While cloaked in language about stemming racially motivated violence, the strategy places those deemed “anti-government” or “anti-authority” on a par with racist extremists and charts out policies that could easily be abused to silence or even criminalize online criticism of the government.

Even more disturbing is the call to essentially fuse intelligence agencies, law enforcement, Silicon Valley, and “community” and “faith-based” organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, as well as unspecified foreign governments, as partners in this “war,” which the strategy makes clear will rely heavily on a pre-crime orientation focused largely on what is said on social media and encrypted platforms. Though the strategy claims that the government will “shield free speech and civil liberties” in implementing this policy, its contents reveal that it is poised to gut both.

Indeed, while framed publicly as chiefly targeting “right-wing white supremacists,” the strategy itself makes it clear that the government does not plan to focus on the Right but instead will pursue “domestic terrorists” in “an ideologically neutral, threat-driven manner,” as the law “makes no distinction based on political view—left, right or center.” It also states that a key goal of this strategic framework is to ensure “that there is simply no governmental tolerance . . . of violence as an acceptable mode of seeking political or social change,” regardless of a perpetrator’s political affiliation. 

Considering that the main cheerleaders for the War on Domestic Terror exist mainly in establishment left circles, such individuals should rethink their support for this new policy given that the above statements could easily come to encompass Black Lives Matter–related protests, such as those that transpired last summer, depending on which political party is in power. 

Once the new infrastructure is in place, it will remain there and will be open to the same abuses perpetrated by both political parties in the US during the lengthy War on Terror following September 11, 2001. The history of this new “domestic terror” policy, including its origins in the Trump administration, makes this clear.

It’s Never Been Easier to Be a “Terrorist”

In introducing the strategy, the Biden administration cites “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” as a key reason for the new policy and a main justification for the War on Domestic Terror in general. This was most recently demonstrated Tuesday in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s statement announcing this new strategy. However, the document itself puts “anti-government” or “anti-authority” “extremists” in the same category as violent white supremacists in terms of being a threat to the homeland. The strategy’s characterization of such individuals is unsettling.

For instance, those who “violently oppose” “all forms of capitalism” or “corporate globalization” are listed under this less-discussed category of “domestic terrorist.” This highlights how people on the left, many of whom have called for capitalism to be dismantled or replaced in the US in recent years, could easily be targeted in this new “war” that many self-proclaimed leftists are currently supporting. Similarly, “environmentally-motivated extremists,” a category in which groups such as Extinction Rebellion could easily fall, are also included. 

In addition, the phrasing indicates that it could easily include as “terrorists” those who oppose the World Economic Forum’s vision for global “stakeholder capitalism,” as that form of “capitalism” involves corporations and their main “stakeholders” creating a new global economic and governance system. The WEF’s stakeholder capitalism thus involves both “capitalism” and “corporate globalization.” 

The strategy also includes those who “take steps to violently resist government authority . . . based on perceived overreach.” This, of course, creates a dangerous situation in which the government could, purposely or otherwise, implement a policy that is an obvious overreach and/or blatantly unconstitutional and then label those who resist it “domestic terrorists” and deal with them as such—well before the overreach can be challenged in court.

Another telling addition to this group of potential “terrorists” is “any other individual or group who engages in violence—or incites imminent violence—in opposition to legislative, regulatory or other actions taken by the government.” Thus, if the government implements a policy that a large swath of the population finds abhorrent, such as launching a new, unpopular war abroad, those deemed to be “inciting” resistance to the action online could be considered domestic terrorists. 

Such scenarios are not unrealistic, given the loose way in which the government and the media have defined things like “incitement” and even “violence” (e. g., “hate speech” is a form of violence) in the recent past. The situation is ripe for manipulation and abuse. To think the federal government (including the Biden administration and subsequent administrations) would not abuse such power reflects an ignorance of US political history, particularly when the main forces behind most terrorist incidents in the nation are actually US government institutions like the FBI (more FBI examples hereherehere, and here).

Furthermore, the original plans for the detention of American dissidents in the event of a national emergency, drawn up during the Reagan era as part of its “continuity of government” contingency, cited popular nonviolent opposition to US intervention in Latin America as a potential “emergency” that could trigger the activation of those plans. Many of those “continuity of government” protocols remain on the books today and can be triggered, depending on the whims of those in power. It is unlikely that this new domestic terror framework will be any different regarding nonviolent protest and demonstrations.

Yet another passage in this section of the strategy states that “domestic terrorists” can, “in some instances, connect and intersect with conspiracy theories and other forms of disinformation and misinformation.” It adds that the proliferation of such “dangerous” information “on Internet-based communications platforms such as social media, file-upload sites and end-to-end encrypted platforms, all of these elements can combine and amplify threats to public safety.” 

Thus, the presence of “conspiracy theories” and information deemed by the government to be “misinformation” online is itself framed as threatening public safety, a claim made more than once in this policy document. Given that a major “pillar” of the strategy involves eliminating online material that promotes “domestic terrorist” ideologies, it seems inevitable that such efforts will also “connect and intersect” with the censorship of “conspiracy theories” and narratives that the establishment finds inconvenient or threatening for any reason. 

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