It seemed obvious that we were going to be seeing some changes after the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill. One of the immediate results could be seen among progressive activists and 99% of the mainstream media. After years of ignoring riots and mayhem growing out of left-wing activism, arguably dating back to even before the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, liberals and their media enablers had finally found a target they could agree on. A riot perpetrated by a group of Trump supporters who believed the election was stolen was quickly reformatted into a massive attack by white supremacists and domestic terrorists. Personally, I’m fine with calling the attack an act of domestic terrorism since it fits the conventional description. It would just be nice if some of these critics had applied the same definitions when the looting and destruction were being fomented by groups they support.
But what’s to be done about it in the aftermath? Calls for greater scrutiny of alleged “hate groups” are being bandied about, including the possibility of law enforcement and intelligence agencies looking into their activities. Preventing all of these white people from engaging in any more acts of terror must be a priority, at least for some people engaging in the debate. But some of the same activists from civil rights groups making these demands are simultaneously waving the caution flag because they fear any expansion of police powers might wind up being used against them. If you think that sounds crazy, check out the descriptions used in this article from the Associated Press about the “cautious” way civil rights groups are approaching the subject.
As federal officials grapple with how to confront the national security threat from domestic extremists after the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol, civil rights groups and communities of color are watching warily for any moves to expand law enforcement power or authority.
They say their communities have felt the brunt of security scrutiny over the last two decades and fear new tools meant to target right-wing extremism or white nationalists risk harming Muslims, Black Americans and other groups, even if unintentionally.
Their position underscores the complexity of the national debate surrounding how to balance First Amendment expression protections with law enforcement’s need to prevent extremist violence before it occurs.
I would first note that the members of Congress – including Democrats – who were understandably cowering in the Capitol Building during the attack certainly seemed pretty grateful to the Capitol Hill Police for holding back the rioters and keeping them safe. One of them died in the effort and others were injured. But now that the smoke has cleared, are they going to go back to talking about how terrible the police are and how they need to be “reformed?”
You have to love the phrase “tools meant to target right-wing extremism or white nationalists” used in the linked article above. This is where all of these arguments made by progressives fall off the beam and generally lead me to stop listening. We don’t have law enforcement tools and resources that are intended to target one political ideology or race-based extremism. We have laws that apply to everyone equally. If you form a mob to go smash up a building, it doesn’t matter whether you did it because you wanted to start a race war or because you were angry over someone who died in police custody or because your gang leader said he wanted a new flat screen. You broke the same laws and law enforcement should be using the same tools to make sure you don’t do it again.
The current freak-out unfolding this year involves the question of whether or not law enforcement agencies including the FBI need new surveillance tools to keep tabs on people planning to commit organized acts of violence. The overwhelming attitude coming from the groups who commented for the AP article above seems to be that they would be fine with that if those tools were only used against white people, but they fear the law might be applied equally to everyone. Check out this example.
“White violence is consistently perpetuated and then used as justification for increased surveillance or increased state power against communities of color,” said 26-year-old Iranian American activist Hoda Katebi, who is Muslim, wears a headscarf and grew up defending herself against harassment and being called a terrorist in the years after Sept. 11, 2001.
The sole reason for the existence of law enforcement at every level is to find the bad guys and keep law-abiding citizens safe. If some of the bad guys turn out to be people you are sympathetic to, that doesn’t change the formula one iota.
As I was writing this article, the local news was covering the memorial service at the Capitol for Officer Brian Sicknick, who died defending that building during the riot. Before you spend too much time fretting over what “tools” law enforcement and the military might use against extremists of any gender, religion or color, perhaps you might remember who is keeping you alive and safe from those who would do you harm. And in this case, the ones who lay down their lives so you might keep yours.