The Capitol attack was the tip of the iceberg. The Biden administration must confront the full threat of the US far right
“The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”
This sentence, in Joe Biden’s inauguration speech, was manna from heaven for anti-fascists, including me, and in many ways a direct refutation of President Donald Trump’s “American carnage” speech four years ago. After decades of presidents minimizing the white supremacist threat, and four years of emboldening and protecting it, finally there is a president who dares to call the threat by its real name: white supremacy.
My relief was somewhat short-lived, however. A few days later Biden both narrowed and broadened his focus. While there were still implicit references to the far right, most notably the storming of the Capitol on 6 January, the focus was now on “domestic violent extremism”. Why we needed yet another neologism, rather than the common term “domestic terrorism”, was not explained – nor was the fact that most definitions of extremism include the threat or use of violence, which makes the phrase “violent extremism” redundant.