Congressman Introduces Bill Designed to Monitor White Supremacist Groups

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Rose’s “Transnational White Supremacist Extremism Review Act” was sent to the House of Representatives on February 12, 2020.

As white nationalism is a growing issue worldwide, Congressman Max Rose (D-NY) introduced a new bill to combat its spread. 

On January 29, 2020, Max Rose, Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, introduced a new bill titled the “Transnational White Supremacist Extremism Review Act,” which would call for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create threat assessments on white supremacist extremism groups. These assessments would then be used by local, state, and federal law enforcement to minimize the threat of attack and help to monitor groups’ behavior more effectively. 

The act would be enforced by limiting the travel of extremist group members, criminalizing the support of violent organizations, monitoring or blocking the movement of their assets, and having the Department of Justice (DOJ) be able to prosecute individuals who supply material support.

According to a report from The Soufan Center, white extremist strategies are similar to jihadist recruitment tactics. Both utilize the internet, glorify violence at the hands of their organization, use propaganda, constantly recruit followers, and create transnational following. 

The report continues by saying white supremacy extremism is also progressing in a way similar to early jihadism under the Islamic State. Both utilize an ideology centered around the prediction and acceleration of a conflict expected to destroy the world. This doomsday ideology often drives people into these groups out of fear. The only outstanding difference between the two groups is that while the Islamic State had strong leadership, the white supremacist movement does not.

Recently, there has been a rapid spread of white supremacist ideals, mainly over social media. This spread has been accompanied by the amplification and glorification of WSE attacks. These groups utilize social media to create global connections and spread their ideology efficiently. 

White supremacist groups are able to reach a young, malleable audience through the use of “memes” which frequently possess racist and sexist undertones that gradually desensitize a younger audience to an extremist mindset. These images are constantly being shared online, and they normalize bigotry to younger generations with an online presence.

Though DHS has recognized white supremacy as a domestic terror threat since 2019, there is still a demand for more regulation in regards to monitoring these groups, many of which are still able to cloak their intentions with patriotism, and raise no alarms. Since 2018, when President Trump cut funding for grants and programs designed to counter-violent domestic terrorism, the fight against white extremist groups has taken a slower pace. 

John Horgan, a psychologist at Georgia State University, told The Washington Post that “white supremacy is a far more dispersed and deeply ingrained ideology in Western society,” so “it will be far harder to defeat than jihadism” in the long run. 

On February 12, 2020, Rose’s bill was unanimously advanced by the House Committee of Homeland Security and has been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.