The knock-on effects of consciously avoiding ideology include limiting what the government can legitimately investigate. That approach is an invitation to be attacked: The terrorist is never a terrorist until the government has gotten around to designating him as such, and the threat of violence is never certain until after the violence happens.

Let’s not do that again. In fact, let’s bear in mind that, if Joe Biden is elected, we will be doing it again — instead of confronting enemy ideology, we’ll be back to “countering violent extremism.”

Chris Wray is right. He is not saying that the FBI is making no cases on violent insurrectionists who are driven by Antifa’s anti-American ideology. He is saying that if we’re confronted by a movement, and we want to protect the country, we can’t afford to delude ourselves into thinking we can beat it by taking out any particular organization. It’s bigger and more insidious than that.

Let’s remember one more thing, a lesson we never learned with sharia supremacism. The FBI is a law enforcement agency. It does not, and must not, get involved with ideological threats in the United States until they’ve ripened into crimes — or, at least, into concrete preparation for crimes and conspiracies. That is the end stage. A confident, free society best takes on ideological threats at the early stage: talking about them, examining their ideas, doing real investigative journalism about how they operate, and calling them out and discrediting them. If we’re waiting for the FBI to confront the challenge of anti-American anarchism, then we’re waiting way too long.