There has been a lot of talk lately about “going back to normal” as the country begins to reemerge at what is hopefully the tailend of the pandemic. Unfortunately, normal in this country includes frequent incidents of mass violence, and a new Homeland Security bulletin warns that domestic extremists may be plotting to take advantage of the easing restrictions on mass gatherings.
According to ABC News, the bulletin states that “violent extremists might seek to exploit easing COVID-19 restrictions, increased access to mass gatherings, and possible changes in levels of violence during the summer months to conduct attacks against a range of potential targets with little or no warning.” As the fourth of July holiday approaches, at least 34 states will see their State of Emergency orders expire, meaning that restrictions on mass gatherings and social distancing will more or less be completely lifted.
“In recent weeks, domestic violent extremists (DVEs) motivated by various violent ideologies have continued to advocate violence and plan attacks,” the bulletin said. “As of 16 June, racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists (RMVE-WSs) were sharing downloadable links to a publication [that discusses] targeting mass gatherings, critical infrastructure, and law enforcement officers.”
It’s become increasingly apparent that domestic extremism fueled by white nationalism is one of the biggest threats facing this country. It’s not just me saying it either, as the FBI has repeatedly said the same as well. Violent extremism was already a problem before the pandemic, and the bulletin adds that the isolation that came as a result of COVID restrictions probably didn’t help things.
“Sociopolitical factors that possibly contributed to violent acts in 2020, including social isolation and other pandemic-related stressors and divisive political climates, continue to exist,” the bulletin states.
On one hand, it fucking sucks that as we try to get back into the swing of life we have to do so looking over our shoulder. On the other hand, though, isn’t that how we were already living? Simply speaking for myself, I generally keep my head on a swivel whenever in a crowded area, a movie theater, or even the store. Folks are wilding these days, and the vitriol being spread by right-wing news outlets, social media, and even elected officials ain’t helping things.
As we go into the holiday weekend, officials have said that the public shouldn’t panic but should stay alert and report any suspicious activity they may see. I don’t know about y’all, but I think I’m gonna spend the weekend playing games and kicking it with the fam, as that seems like the safest bet. Literally.