The many faces of far-right extremism
There is hardly any tangible effort from Washington to challenge the laws that enforce and continue this cycle of far-right nationalism in the country.
It has been more than two years since the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, and Washington is still in the process of passing convictions. It is a fantasy to interpret such sentencing as long-term pushback against the menace of far-right extremism in the U.S. Recent findings from the California State University San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reveal a 22-year pattern of rising hate crimes across the United States. It points to a particular rise in white nationalism.
This dangerous upward trajectory in violence and discrimination punctures the Biden administration’s rhetoric on ensuring peace in the United States. Any tall promise about supporting an atmosphere of inclusivity is a far cry as long as the end result empowers the far-right.
There has been a lot of noise in Capitol Hill around the sentencing of Ethan Nordean and Dominic Pezzola, two key figures of the extremist “Proud Boys” organization that emerged notorious for fueling riots. But it took the U.S. justice system over two years to deliver on such convictions, including against a far-right extremist that was the "undisputed leader on the ground”, according to prosecutor Jason McCullough.
In the same country where most large cities witnessed the second year of record-setting hate crimes (at nearly 1,889 cases), discrimination and harassment against American Muslims has also been a glaring reality. Together, Biden is very quick to deliver false assurances against the “ugly poisons” of “systemic racism and white supremacy” in the country, as evidenced during the early moments of his presidency. But it is his own administration that is failing to mobilize the same state machinery to address this ugly poison at the roots.
Make no mistake. There is hardly any tangible effort from Washington to challenge the laws that enforce and continue this cycle of far-right nationalism in the country. Much of the violence arrives at the expense of abiding minorities and their constitutional liberties. All this leaves it largely up to activism non-profits to expose the government’s own shortcomings on addressing social violence and brutality against Black Americans. There has been a lot of talk about clipping sweeping police powers in the U.S. as well, but government inaction leaves much to be desired.
Overseas, the Biden administration has been very quick to condemn diverse approaches to governance as an ‘authoritarianism’ threat. Washington wrongly polices entire countries on minority rights and civil liberties as well. But it refuses to answer for its resistance to taking down the far-right, not just by cheering-on the conviction of key leaders, but by actually challenging their underlying ideology. From individual to civil rights, Washington claims to stand by the ‘internationally recognized’ human rights standards in its controversial country reports on human rights practices. But there is no truth to judging select governments in Asia and the Middle East when violent white nationalism surges in the U.S. and doesn’t get half the attention it deserves in official circles.
Public outcry in wake of George Floyd’s murder was a reminder in itself that without coordinated protests and sustained public pressure, government defense for the oppressed is often hard to secure. The incident spurred widely acclaimed movements from city to city, informed by the view that an overfunded police and its penchant for brutality against Blacks deserved to be called out. In the broader context of far-right extremism in the U.S. today, lengthy reporting on hate crimes and white nationalism is a prerequisite to some form of government action. But even such forceful campaigning may hit a brick wall due to divergent leadership priorities at the center, a major weakness in Biden’s presidency to date.
The U.S. only has itself to blame. For instance, Biden has deliberately ignored important options to help address white supremacy and right-wing nationalism threats. Consider the need to transform America’s fractured and deeply divided society through sound economic performance at the top. Consistent failure has ended up empowering hard-right groups, including Proud Boys, who capitalize on political polarization and growing public discontent towards the economy and state leadership. "Hate will not prevail in America," the U.S. president recently told civil rights leaders and administration officials at the White House. "Now is the time for all Americans to speak up. History is being erased."
Let’s not pretend that selective sentencing on the riots case can transform a climate of right-wing violence against minorities, or make up for government negligence in dealing with a host of white nationalist threats. Members affiliated with neo-Nazi entities such as Order of the Black Sun, Aryan Freedom Network and the National Socialist Movement (the largest neo-Nazi group in the U.S) continue to penetrate public presence, and fuel hate against select minorities.
If it is business as usual in Washington, the greatest beneficiary of that attitude will be the very forces that the serving administration once vowed to counter in full.