Opinion: There are some kinds of terrorism Trump doesn’t mind

 

What comes to mind when you hear the word “terrorist”? In the pop­ular mindset, terrorism is associated with Islam. However, terrorist attacks are not limited to any specific ideol­ogy. Environmentalists, Japanese cult members, governments, and oppo­nents of abortion have all committed acts that could be labeled as terrorism.

According to a report by the Tri­angle Center on Terrorism and Home­land Security, most terrorist attacks are committed by white supremacists and other “alt-right” organizations, which are an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. However, Trump has cho­sen to ignore this problem. In a move that would promote Islamophobia and embolden white nationalists, he plans to change the mission of Countering Violent Extremism — a program de­signed to prevent terrorism — to focus entirely on Islam.

This is already making Muslims respond in a perfectly predictable and justified manner. At least four Muslim nonprofits are refusing to accept mon­ey from CVE grants, because they did not want to align themselves with an administration that they felt did not support them. “It all came down to principle,” said Mohamed Farah, ex­ecutive director of Ka Joog, a non­profit that supports Somali youth. “We work with immigrants, we work with refugees, we work with Muslims. And we believe that this new administra­tion is against everything that we stand for.”

Journalist Adam Ragusea points out in an article for Slate that the word “terrorist” has become so loaded that journalists should avoid it entirely, as many Americans see terrorism as a worse offense than other acts of vio­lence. By categorizing violent Islamic extremism as terrorism, but not cat­egorizing violent extremism tied to other ideologies as terrorism, this country would further legitimize a bias against Muslims in the justice system.

American society has continu­ously minimized white supremacist violence, often jumping to the conclu­sion that such attacks are motivated by other causes. For example, when white supremacist Dylann Roof shot nine people in a black church, his at­torneys and the media blamed his ac­tions on mental illness. Also, when far-right nationalist Alexandre Bisson­nette killed six people and wounded 19 at a mosque in Quebec, the shoot­ing was quickly blamed on the Moroc­can Muslim at the scene who called 911.

By changing the CVE program to ignore white supremacists, Trump is further minimizing the dangers they pose to the United States. He’s also made them happy. “Donald Trump is setting us free,” said the editor of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer in response to the change. “This is absolutely a signal of favor to us.”

It’s debatable whether the CVE is even effective. The American Civil Liberties Union says CVE programs are “based on discredited and unsci­entific theories,” and “threaten funda­mental rights, divide communities, and cast suspicion on law-abiding Americans.” Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed cites a variety of stud­ies and scientific reviews, such as a UN report calling CVE “simplistic,” and a 2006 review that found a mere three percent of peer-reviewed articles on terrorism “appeared to be based on some form of empirical analysis,” to argue that the science behind CVE is “astonishingly crap.”

Whether CVE worked in its orig­inal form or not, the change sends a message that violent extremism is okay, as long as it’s done by the right people. If they must keep the CVE program, they need to make sure it counters all violent extremism equally.

COURTESY OF VOICE OF AMERICA

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