Apr 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Lawmaker urges terrorist designation for foreign white supremacists

Photo of Elissa Slotkin speaking into a mic

Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool via Getty Images

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) is pushing the Biden administration to designate overseas white supremacist groups as foreign terrorists, Reuters reported Friday.

Why it matters: White supremacist propaganda nearly doubled in the U.S. last year. Social media and conferences have allowed different groups to draw inspiration from one another, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

  • The spike in propaganda was part of "an effort to normalize white supremacists' message and bolster recruitment efforts while targeting minority groups," the ADL wrote.

What she's saying: Placing white supremacists on the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) would give the government tools to "engage and flag the Americans who contact, support, train, and join" these groups, Slotkin wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Slotkin asked the State Department to consider the designation for more than a dozen organizations, including:

  • The Neo-Nazi Action Group, which was founded in Britain and promotes violence against politicians and minorities.
  • The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, an anti-Western transnational organization that has carried out violent attacks against Muslims and left-wing groups.

Worth noting: Slotkin brings an expert perspective as a former CIA analyst and senior Pentagon official. She currently chairs the House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism.

  • As a lawmaker, she has prioritized domestic extremism.
  • When a militia group attempted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in Slotkin's district last year, Slotkin emphasized that "they didn't hail from a war-torn region halfway around the world — they were Americans. They were white. And they were radicalized right here at home," per Reuters.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Kadia Goba: Slotkin is one of several lawmakers who have called for the federal government to label white supremacist groups as FTOs.

  • Former Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) led the charge a year ago, but the freshman lost his seat in 2020.
  • Now, more moderates are coalescing around the issue, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who urged the State Department to make the classification for the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers after the Capitol insurrection.

The big picture: If the Biden administration makes the designations, it would be unprecedented, Reuters writes.

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