Is DHS correct that white supremacy is the "most lethal" US threat?


Fact Box

  • White supremacy describes a belief system of White privilege, meaning they should have dominance over diverse peoples and are superior in culture and genetic makeup. 
  • According to recent reports by the Department of Homeland Security, White supremacists will pose the “most lethal threat’’ through early 2021. 
  • In the US, between 1994 and 2020, there were 893 terrorist attacks and plots. Right-wing terrorists made up the majority at 57 percent, compared to 25 percent committed by left-wing terrorists.
  • White supremacy dates back to 19th-century literature. British writers Rudyard Kipling, Charles Kingsley, and Thomas Carlyle believed it was the “white man’s burden” to bring civilization to diverse peoples. 
  • A 2019 PNAS study revealed “white officers are no more likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot black civilians. It is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer.”

Kevin (Yes) 

An FBI report from 2017 shows white supremacist terrorism producing 'more fatalities than any other category of domestic terrorists since 2000.' This report is backed up by Reveal's database the same year, which tracked a broader range of data. According to the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division, in May of 2019, there were 850 domestic terrorism cases under investigation, 40% of which were 'racially motivated extremists.' The Center for Strategic & International Studies has recently issued a report that warns that 'Right-wing attacks and plots account for most terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of right-wing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years.'

As if that information isn't troubling enough, the FBI has also issued warnings about 'active links' to law enforcement. Former special agent Michael German says it is 'widely acknowledged' this problem exists, but 'little is being done to identify or punish' those involved. There is recent evidence to back this up as well. Leaked documents also show police knew ahead of time that 'far-right extremists were the real threat' at the recent protests, but did not act accordingly. When you consider these things together, that white supremacist violence is not only the greater threat but also that it is being enabled and even assisted by members of law enforcement, it is easy to see how white supremacy could indeed be the 'most lethal' threat to the US.

Stephanie (No)

While white supremacy indeed exists sometimes, it is a wild exaggeration to call the issue the nation's 'most lethal' threat, as the Department of Homeland Security recently did. Opponents often point to George Floyd's death and others as claims of racism being lethal. Yet despite Floyd's death being a horrific occurrence, it remains in the minority of deadly race relations, particularly involving police.

Conversely, movements that strive to fight white supremacy, such as Black Lives Matter, have created an undeniable race war. Even worse, BLM 'advocates' have posed actual lethal threats during protests, resulting in the literal burning down of American communities. Unsurprisingly, President Trump labeled those involved, including Antifa, 'domestic terrorists.' Regardless of one's opinion on racism in the nation, there is no way white supremacy comes close to being the greatest threat while COVID-19, sex trafficking, terrorism, illegal immigration, wildfires, foreign threats, and any other disturbance that threatens life or liberty exists. Any issue with white supremacy remains a societal one.

Suggesting white supremacy is a significant threat also ignores the fact that racism can occur on behalf of or towards ANY race. Those who deny this are part of the problem in that they place those of various races in elevated categories that further perpetuate prejudice. Likewise, the continuous need to harp on supposed white supremacy is racist in itself, making it easier to condemn anyone proud of their white ethnicity. For example, the phrase 'white lives matter' has even been called 'a white supremacist phrase' and a symbol of hate. Though racism exists in all forms, 'white supremacy' should not be our chief concern.

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