FBI chief Wray warns of danger of White Supremacy. Photo: CNN screenshot.
[Speaking Truth To Empower]
FBI Director Christopher Wray’s recent comments to Congress about the dangerously “persistent, pervasive threat” of White supremacists to the public safety, should be taken seriously in light of President Donald Trump’s blatant appeals to White bigotry.
Responsible elected leaders, civil rights organizations, police monitoring groups, activists and serious media outlets –sadly there are too few– must also pressure police departments to weed out KKK members and other White supremacists who may have infiltrated their forces.
This observation is based on a series of incidents in recent years involving White supremacists police officers, a topic I will return to shortly.
We live in dangerous times. The president of the United States’ main policy platform is prejudice against all non-Whites.
Trump launched his presidential campaign fanning the rising flames of right-wing racist resentment against President Barack Obama. He then pushed and promoted bigotry against Muslims and Mexicans. Isn’t “building the wall” a rallying cry for White American racists?
In this period of “make America great again,” overt racism has becoming fashionable again. Unfortunately, this means we’re about to experience more deadly outrages. The tragic mass murders at Pittsburg’s Tree of Life Synagogue, and in Christchurch New Zealand, are harbingers of our now increasingly intolerant reality.
Last Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress’ House Appropriations committee about the FBI’s 2020 budget. During the hearing he was asked about the threat posed by domestic terrorism—even as the Department of Homeland Security terminated its domestic terrorism unit.
“How would you define the danger to public safety that is posed by White supremacist extremism?” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) asked. “The danger, I think, of White supremacists, violent extremism, or any other kind of violent extremism is, of course, significant,” Wray said. “It’s a persistent, pervasive threat. We tackle it both through our joint terrorism task forces on the domestic side as well as the civil rights program on the criminal side through hate crime enforcement.”
When asked what the FBI was doing to fight hate crimes, Wray said the FBI was “determined not to tolerate hate-filled violence in our communities, so we’re going to aggressively investigate those cases.” He added “the reporting of hate crimes” has increased. “Violent extremism” is indeed on the rise. But let’s be clear this really means violence by right-wing White Americans. Yes, there are extremists of all racial stripes in America. However, the vast majority—and most violent ones—are usually White American males who are aggrieved by the darkening demographics of America.
In another twenty years, Whites will cease to be America’s racial majority. This biological certainty is causing misery in the minds of many White Americans. White America’s numerical majority has allowed them, for centuries, to oppress other minorities, especially African-Americans.
Director Wray’s comments are important for many reasons, including the fact that President Donald Trump has emboldened the most racist elements in White America. Much has been made about how Wray’s assessment differs with Trump’s. After the New Zealand mosque murders, Trump downplayed the growing White supremacist violence worldwide.
He claimed these incidents were committed by a “small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.” Should we be surprised since Trump already said there “were very fine people” among the murderous racists in Charlottesville, Virginia?
Trump is now a beloved champion of White bigots around the world, not just in America. Brenton Tarrant who murdered 50 Muslims at the Al Noor Mosque, and the Linwood Mosque, in the Christchurch area of New Zealand, called Trump “a symbol of renewed White identity.” This is the same reason why right-wing racist Republicans love Trump.
Mr. Wray’s comments to Congress should motivate all Americans to fight violent racists.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media has largely ignored the troubling assessment coming from the head of the FBI. The media gate-keepers have never been very comfortable doing deep-dive investigations into White American racism.
This prompted the 1967 Kerner Commission to say “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward…the press has too long basked in a White world looking out of it, if at all, with White men’s eyes and White perspective. That is no longer good enough. The painful process of readjustment that is required of the American news media must begin now.”
Fifty-one years later, the mainstream media is still “shockingly backward,” especially as it relates to matters of race. Race, when dealt with in media, is usually done in a shallow superficial manner. While we hear a lot of bloviating bull about “objective journalism,” the media still dispenses news through “White men’s eyes and White perspective.”
Disturbingly, Mr. Wray’s stark statements only scratch the surface of the real dangers of White supremacy in America. Many Americans are comfortable perceiving of White racists as drunken southern hillbilly rednecks. The profile they hardly envision is of the racist who uses his official capacity, as a government official, to further their racism.
In this regard, one neglected story media should be fully addressing is the FBI’s reports regarding the infiltration of police departments by White supremacists, and KKK groups.
In October 2006, an FBI report—updated in 2015—warned of White supremacists “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The FBI labeled these individuals “Ghost Skins,” a term signifying their covert nature as “undercover White power warriors.” How many “Ghost Skins” Klan cops do we now have policing Black communities?
Here’s a few cases to consider for those who think this irresponsible conjecture.
On April 29, 2017, 15-year-old African-American scholar athlete Jordan Edwards was killed by officer Roy Oliver of the Balch Spring Police Department, in Texas. Edwards was killed as he was riding with his brother who was driving away from a reportedly rowdy party. The important point not stressed by news reports is officer Oliver was a high school member of a racist group named “Caucasians in Effect.” Oliver made it clear he “hated anyone who was not Caucasian.”
In September 2015, Louisiana Detective Raymond Mott was fired by the Lake Arthur Town Council after a picture revealed him to be a KKK member. In the picture, Mott is shown wearing KKK regalia and giving the Nazi salute, at an anti-immigration rally. By 2014, three officers from the Fruitland Park Police Department, in Florida, were forced to leave their policing duties—after their connection to the KKK were exposed. The officers were: Deputy Chief David Borst, Cpl. George Hunnewell and officer James Elkins. Elkins was the first to come under scrutiny after a photo from his secret Klan initiation ceremony surfaced—with him surrounded by white hooded KKK members.
Recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said the dropping of all charges against Empire actor Jessie Smollett was a “whitewash of justice.” Hypocritically, Emanuel never apologized to Black Chicagoans who were subjected to the cruelties of former Chicago Police commander Jon Burge with his torture devices like the electric shock “nigger box.” Burge, a reportedly KKK member, tortured an unknown number of Black Chicagoans.
These are but a few cases of police officers who’ve been connected to KKK and Nazi elements. Another harrowing reality revolves around racist police gangs that are known to exist in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. These racist police gangs have names like the Lynwood Vikings, Grim Reapers, Jump Out Boys, 3000 Boys and the Little Devils.
The FBI report on “Ghost Skins” warns “The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is notable among White supremacist groups for historically having found support in many communities, which often translated into ties to local law enforcement.” Unfortunately, the FBI has decided to redact the names of police involved as “Ghost Skins.”
The current climate of resurgent racism is not at all accidental. The Presidential Election of 2008 gave us America’s first Black President Barack Obama—and provoked prejudice among a significant segment of White America. It is that political constituency Donald Trump targeted with his bigoted Birther attacks.
The domestic terrorism unit’s dismantling, by the Department of Homeland Security, fits perfectly with Donald Trump’s downplaying of White supremacist terrorism. Why would he want to investigate and uprooted the “the very fine people” who elected him to the White House?
Troublingly, the “persistent, pervasive threat” of White supremacy will increase as Trump’s right-wing racists attempt to “take our country back.”