Today the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) held a briefing for Members of Congress and key congressional staff members to highlight the findings and policy recommendations of our recently released annual Year in Hate and Extremism report.
The briefing featured remarks from House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and from the Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV). After presentations about the report by SPLC’s Intelligence Project subject matter experts, Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center and Senior Fellow with SPLC, offered a response to the presentations and his own views on the threat our democracy faces.
Following the briefing, Margaret Huang, the organization’s President & CEO highlighted the urgent actions the Biden-Harris administration and Congress must take to address the dangers posed by violent extremists and other anti-democratic forces.
“For over three decades, we have tracked and monitored hate and extremist groups in the United States. During this time, we have attempted to sound the alarm about these groups, their growth and the dangers they pose.
“Today, it’s clearer than ever that our nation faces an increasingly dangerous threat from home-grown extremists ranging from anti-government militias to hate groups and white supremacists. To address these dangers, we are urging the Biden administration and Congress to take action now.
“First, it is clear that as a nation we need to enhance coordination and reporting on hate groups and violent extremists. This can be done through executive action and legislation (like the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act) to spark improvements in intelligence sharing, reporting, and coordination among the agencies fighting extremism and White Supremacy. And, because date should be driving the policy, executive action and legislation would also improve federal hate crime data collection, training, and prevention.
“Second, former President Donald Trump and those who helped incite the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol must be held accountable. The Senate should convict the former president, following his second House impeachment. And Congress should discipline, censure, or expel all of the 147 Senators and Representatives who supported the insurrection and baseless “Stop the Steal” lies that inspired the violence.
“Finally, the focus must be on Education, not Enforcement. The law is a blunt instrument to address violent hate and extremism – it is much better when used to prevent these criminal acts in the first place. To be more effective, Congress should shift funding away from punishment models and toward anti-bias education initiatives and prevention of violent extremism, focusing on programs that build resilient communities and empower both young people and adults.
“We can and must do better fighting extremism and preventing such events like last month’s deadly attack on the Capitol.”
For over three decades, the Southern Poverty Law Center has released an annual count of hate and extremist groups in the United States. The hate group count and analysis, and our recommendation for prevention strategies and policy responses, can be read online, along with an updated map showing the locations of hate groups nationwide, at www.splcenter.org.