University Program Linking Christians, Republicans to Nazis Granted DHS Funds Under ‘Anti-Terror’ Initiative
Aaron Kliegman, Fox News, May 25, 2023
The Biden administration is doling out taxpayer money through an anti-terrorism grant initiative to a university program that has explicitly lumped the Republican Party, as well as Christian and conservative groups, into the same category as Nazis, according to documents shared exclusively with Fox News Digital.
The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, obtained documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests showing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program meant to fight terrorism is funding a group whose work has explicitly targeted the American political right. The MRC outlined its findings in a report, arguing what the group found warrants criminal prosecution.
“This terrorism task force is engaged in an active effort to demonize and eliminate Christian, conservative, and Republican organizations using federal taxpayer dollars,” said Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center. “What we have uncovered calls for criminal prosecution. The American people need to know those who are abusing their positions in the federal government will be held accountable for their criminal behavior.”
DHS’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program (TVTP) provides funds to various public, private, and non-profit institutions — such as universities and county governments — “to establish or enhance capabilities to prevent targeted violence and terrorism.” Grant applicants must be based in the U.S. and implement a U.S.-based program.
The Biden administration has awarded 80 grants through the TVTP totaling just under $40 million. The lowest grant was for $85,000, the highest was over $1.1 million, and the median was about $442,000. TVTP grant recipients are prohibited from engaging in viewpoint discrimination, according to DHS.
Started by the Obama administration under a different name, the TVTP was broadened and revamped by the Biden administration with a new focus on violent extremism and white supremacy. DHS named one of its TVTP goals as “media literacy and online critical thinking initiatives,” which many grantees listed as the mission of their projects.
One such grantee was the University of Dayton for its PREVENTS-OH program, which DHS awarded $352,109 to “draw on the expertise of the University of Dayton faculty” to fight “domestic violence extremism and hate movements.”
The university’s grant application submitted to DHS linked in a footnote to a controversial Dayton conference where an academic researcher presented a chart titled the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization.”
The “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization,” as presented at the University of Dayton’s “Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity” seminar in 2021. (Screeshot from University of Dayton YouTube channel)
Among the organizations and movements displayed on the pyramid were the Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation, the American Conservative Union, Fox News, Breitbart News, the National Rifle Association, PragerUniversity, Tea Party Patriots, the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement, the pro-police Blue Lives Matter movement, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
The pyramid also included hate groups like The Base, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, and the Daily Stormer, a pro-Nazi publication, seemingly comparing them to mainstream organizations such as the GOP.
In 2021, the University of Dayton held a seminar called “Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity” featuring several experts on extremism who compared mainstream conservatives to genocidal extremists.
The university’s grant application to DHS linked to video of the conference, describing it as indicative of the university’s work “to assess regional needs and capacities for violent extremism prevention” and directing government evaluators to view it for more information.
One speaker at the conference, University of Cincinnati researcher Michael Loadenthal, presented the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization,” portraying it as an accurate depiction of the “modern far-right” and extremism in America.
The MRC report noted that at the same seminar, another speaker, Alexander Hinton, a member of the Rutgers University faculty who specializes in genocide, compared the Trump administration to the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia killed an estimated 1.5 million-2 million people from 1975-79.
A third speaker — Nicole Widdersheim, deputy Washington director for Human Rights Watch and former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Center — compared Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposing a volunteer civilian military force to assist the National Guard in emergencies such as hurricanes to the Nazis’ Holocaust during World War II.
A DHS official — Joseph Masztalics, a regional prevention coordinator at the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, of which TVTP is a part — was another speaker and appeared virtually in his official capacity at the event to deliver a short presentation about the center’s mission and resources.
“Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity” wasn’t the only controversial conference conducted by the University of Dayton. Indeed, at a separate seminar titled “White Natioanlism Workshop,” Loadenthal also spoke and explained how “antifascists” could “pressure” financial services, retailers, service providers, and various platforms to “kick people off,” promoting the “de-platforming” of alleged fascists who he compared to the mainstream political right.
“A lot of things we’re doing are illegal,” he said. “A lot of it involves breaking the law.”
Loadenthal also described hate speech as an act of war, calling it the “strategic deployment of organizational energy and power,” and called for shutting down forces deemed extremist.
“To deny people that, to shut down their websites, to close their meetings, [and] to physically prevent them from assembling in public — this is the belief,” he said, also displaying an infographic of how “antifascists” can “infiltrate,” “surveil,” and “disrupt” far-right forces.
Infographic presented by University of Cincinnati researcher Michael Loadenthal at University of Dayton seminar titled “White Nationalism Workshop.” (Screenshot from University of Dayton’s YouTube channel)
Loadenthal additionally noted that in his “younger years,” he engaged in “direct confrontation” with alleged white supremacists, seemingly describing himself as a member of Antifa.
“We organized largely through networks — today people would call Antifa, at the time it was known as anti-racist action — to follow white supremacists where they go, to outnumber them, and then to physically confront them and deny them the space to physically meet in public,” he said. “This is the idea of de-platforming. I worked in that realm for a long time.”
Loadenthal, who added that at the time he was also a medical worker who provided “abortion services,” has frequently retweeted Antifa accounts and appeared to defend left-wing violence on social media.
At the same event, University of Dayton Professor Paul Becker displayed images of anti-COVID lockdown and anti-vaccine mandate protesters, suggesting they were infiltrated by hate groups.