The Department of Homeland Security has a very specific mission: to ensure the safety of the United States. That means implementing cybersecurity measures, protecting our borders from unlawful entry, and eliminating domestic threats like Arby’s. OK, maybe not eliminating Arby’s, but for the first time since its inception, its list of priorities includes an obvious threat that’s been wreaking havoc on black bodies for centuries: white supremacy.
According to the Washington Post, in a revised counterterrorism strategy unveiled on Friday, the DHS finally called a thing a thing during a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington.
“The continuing menace of racially-based violent extremism, particularly white supremacist extremism, is an abhorrent affront to our nation, the struggle and unity of its diverse population, and the core values of both our society and our department,” Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Secretary, said.
He added that it “has no place in the United States of America, and it never will.”
There are those of us who would argue that America has been racist as hell since it’s inception, but McAleenan asserts that the DHS has “targeted violence” in its crosshairs. Targeted violence meaning incidents in which a racist-ass racist carries out a premeditated attack on a group or individual in order to satisfy their own hatred.
With mass shootings becoming a recurring theme in this country, we’ve seen hatred-fueled attacks on synagogues, black churches, and other public locations populated by marginalized groups. One such incident was the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in which 22 people lost their lives.
McAleenan revealed that six of the victims in that shooting were related to DHS employees.
“The majority of our El Paso team, working to protect our nation, uphold the rule of law, and care for vulnerable migrants arriving at our border is Hispanic,” he said, noting that recent mass shootings have “galvanized the Department of Homeland Security to expand its counterterrorism mission focus beyond terrorists operating abroad, to include those radicalized to violence within our borders by violent extremists of any ideology.”
DHS has overhauled its strategy to “better analyze the nature and extent of the domestic terror threat and share information with local law enforcement to help prevent attacks,” according to NBC News. This also includes dissuading tech companies from hosting websites and content that provides a platform for radicalized hate and initiating counter-messaging campaigns to deter violence.
Essentially, the DHS is putting a premium on prevention methods and curtailing extremist messaging.
“This strategic framework is our formal recognition of the emerging threat of targeted violence in the United States,” McAleenan said. “At the same time, this framework is a vision—a vision for how our nation will respond to the evolving threats we face.”