In people continuing to lose their shit mode: Watching WSJ, CNN, MSBNC, and people like Oliver Darcy, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Rep. Ellissa Slotkin calling for a war on domestic terror to end polarization. When people point out how the last war on terror went, I am seeing Democrats say, “But Bush’s terror targets were fake, this is real.” Missing, or perhaps even wanting, for the fact that the war on domestic terror is being framed as a war on extremists in general and on hyper-polarization.
Vox explains that the FBI is explicit, Wednesday may count as insurrection but does not rise to the legal definition of a coup, treason, or domestic terror act, but likely makes a defense of the history of its legal use:
On December 4, 2015, the FBI announced that it was officially investigating the San Bernardino shooting as “an act of terrorism.” However, that came only one day after the same FBI official, when asked whether the attack was terrorism, said, “It would be irresponsible and premature for me to call this terrorism. The FBI defines terrorism very specifically, and that is the big question for us, what is the motivation for this.”
So what gives? What’s the big deal with not wanting to call it “terrorism” when the FBI clearly was already thinking it was?
The answer has a lot to do with the fact that the FBI is a law enforcement organization and is part of the US Department of Justice. The FBI’s primary job is to investigate crimes with the goal of bringing the perpetrators to justice— in other words, to prosecute criminals in a court of law.
This means the FBI’s understanding of what constitutes “terrorism” has much less to do with how it views the circumstances of an attack and much more to do with whether the facts of the case meet the very specific legal criteria used to prosecute someone on terrorism charges.
Under federal law, “international terrorism” means activities that:
Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law
Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping
Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the US, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum
Whether you and I (or even individual law enforcement officers) personally think an attack is terrorism doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether the authorities in question think they can make a case for prosecuting the perpetrator for terrorism in a court of law.
Literally a month ago, lawyers related to the President were calling “Antifa” and BLM domestic terror organizations and activating DHS to act against them in Portland, even though they knew that those events didn’t rise to the standard of ANY terror. Although given government buildings were attacked, insurrection laws could have been invoked, and thank god they were not.
Even normally neutral outlets like ProPublica are pointing out that War on Terror laws are weaker in the US for US citizens. Yet even the LA Times calls this domestic terrorism and that the police shouldn’t have responded to it as a crime per usual. Mother Jones advocates for the following: “DOJ prioritize the aggressive prosecution of hate crimes and direct the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center to focus on the extremist right-wing movements that have come out of the woodwork and into the mainstream these past four years.”
Now, the first part of this sentence is long overdue, but surveillance of these movements was not the problem. Most of it was stated in public or in platforms easily monitored. Most of it was. The Department of Defense had already been activated and DOJ stopped it. You need a change in the law for most of this to be actionable as terrorism. And no, there is no way they are stopping with right-wing domestic terror.
This is not to say there was not domestic terror attempted, but that it wasn’t the storming of the Capitol. It was the bombs found in the Capitol, as well as RNC and DNC headquarters. They were safely donated.
Remember Obama’s DOJ did not stop the Bush era’s persecution of Green anarchist groups either. Same rhetoric as the last war on terror. Same kind of threat. The same ignoring that things like planning bombs, vandalizing, and insurrection are ALREADY crimes, but you can’t preemptively punish them.
In addition, Oliver Darcy was calling for holding cable networks legally accountable for misinformation and removing OAN, NewsMax, and Fox News from the air by corporate fiat.
Yes, the algorithm empowered a lot of radicalization to the right and, yes, it spread conspiracy theories. Tech platforms will do what they need to do, which is c.y.a.
I realize that bourgeois freedom of speech was always lax, but you are about to lose it because the public sphere is effectively privatized…and it will coincide with political repressions.
Before you say I am soft on the right, instead of seeing this for what it is, they are complaining about how it isn’t being used on Antifa and BLM. So, no, most of them are no help either. You have a gaggle of a few leftists–Marxists and otherwise–and a few libertarians–a smaller and smaller coterie these days—who see the instrumentalization of this as dangerous. But with CNN calling the Freedumb Freikorp “anarchists” and Rep. Ellissa Slotkin talking about hyper-polarization, you should be able to see how this is going.
Also, unless you think the Democrats can rule a one-party state in a country where they do not control most governorships or state houses, imagine how this is going to be used by the opposing party in the future.
When I have said this in other platforms, Democratic friends of mine, including ones that protested the Patriot Act with me when I was not on the left, have said I am stopping accountability. There are federal charges, including of insurrection. There will be an increased domestic terrorist threat as well. We had the laws to handle this though and we’re trusting one Joe Biden, one of the authors of 1995 precursor to the Patriot Act, the Counterterrorism Bill, a continued supporter of the Patriot Act, and of the 1990s crimes bills, to expand our currently existing laws to do that. That is not great.
My Democratic friends have also said I have pretended that the Freedumb Freikorps are the same as BLM. BLM was a protest for minority rights. Wednesday, January 6, was an insurrectionary carnival for minority rule. A mixture of para-military seriousness with comic frenzy.
However, what we are seeing is this: talk of truth, justice, and reconciliation have little to do with this. It is about power. The Democrats already need GOP turncoats to stop their right flank from kyboshing additional non-means tested stimulus payments to people who have fallen into massive debt. If you can’t deliver on Medicare for All, or significant A.C.A. reform, and you have a real threat to exaggerate, then great. Cover for not delivering the domestic agenda that we know Biden had no intention of delivering anyway; he has said as much. People addicted to guillotine memes think that the state won’t also see them as threat; they must believe that Democratic Party as currently constituted actually represents them.
May most of us never be so foolish.