Erin Banco and Sam Stein, Daily Beast, March 18, 2019
The House Judiciary Committee is planning on hosting a hearing in the coming weeks addressing the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and the hate crime and hate speech surrounding the movement, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the committee’s schedule.
The hearing comes on the heels of two mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 50 people. According to local law enforcement, the man charged with those attacks wrote a manifesto outlining his white nationalistic ideology as well as his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.
Though plans are still being finalized, the committee expects to bring in officials from within DHS and the FBI for questioning on the rise of white nationalism in the U.S and the efforts the agencies are currently adopting to combat it. One lawmaker said the goal is to “have a hearing in early April.”
Addressing the rise of white nationalism and related movements has been a tricky proposition for government officials in the past. When the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a warning in 2009 about the rise of right-wing extremism, the political backlash was so intense that then Secretary Janet Napolitano had to issue a formal apology. During the last few years, Republican committee chairs resisted calls to hold hearings on the rise of white supremacy even as Congress passed pro forma votes condemning it.
According to FBI data reviewed by The Daily Beast, out of about 5,000 open terrorism investigations, 900 are categorized as domestic terrorism probes or probes focused on individuals without connections to international extremist organizations. “Domestic terrorism” is an umbrella category that includes far more than just far-right terrorism but functions as the most granular data available to indicate how federal law enforcement targets white supremacist violence.
DHS is still actively looking at the issue of domestic terrorism, according to sources inside the department, but former officials told The Daily Beast that focus has waned since the days of the Obama administration. And, they say, it’s unclear how much emphasis DHS is putting on domestic terrorism threats that emanate from individuals affiliated with white nationalist groups. At the same time, DHS has increasingly focused on the threats facing the southern border and the national security threats posed by the so-called caravan.