The storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 crystallized for national security officials that violent extremism is not a threat exclusively imported from foreign shores; it is made in America.
These conspiracy-minded, far-right potential threats are police officers and firefighters, Realtors and bartenders, even public officials from across the country, emboldened by the affirmation of President Donald Trump and each other to publicly espouse racist views or commit violence against the government, analysts say.
President Biden’s administration will be challenged to deter domestic extremists — and investigate and prosecute them when their rhetoric spills over into violence. Law enforcement and security officials, experts say, will face significant legal, political and cultural hurdles to battle a disease that seems to have taken hold in the nation’s nervous system.
In his inaugural address Wednesday, Biden invoked fresh memories of the riot that saw a pro-Trump mob overrun the very spot where he took the oath of office and pointed to “a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”