The House Judiciary Committee is planning to hold a hearing early next month on the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. in the wake of last Friday’s mosque shootings in New Zealand, the Daily Beast and The Hill reported earlier this week.
The committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., plans to summon FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials for questioning on agency efforts to address white nationalism.
The FBI also is reportedly increasing collaboration with faith leaders on addressing domestic terror threats to houses of worship, such as the New Zealand attacks and the 2018 mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
And the agency is partnering with local law enforcement to develop methods of profiling people potentially motivated to carry out such attacks, according to the Daily Beast.
Such profiling can be done through examination of social-media activity. That is why, in addition to the FBI and DHS, we want to see House Judiciary call the top executives of Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube in for questioning.
The gunman in Christchurch, New Zealand, espoused white nationalist views in his published “manifesto” before killing 50 people in two Muslim mosques there.
In February, a “white nationalist” Coast Guard lieutenant in Maryland was accused of planning attacks on members of the media and left-leaning politicians, Vox.com reported. The attacks may have been stymied because of his web searches related to drugs and violent extremist acts.
The Coast Guard lieutenant was caught because of his online activity. The New Zealand gunman posted his manifesto online, but was not caught before he took 50 innocent lives.
White nationalism and white supremacism are diseases, as are all forms of hatred based on how people look, or their ethnicity, or their religion, or how other people see themselves.
On social media, that hatred takes the form of targeted harassment, including rallying one’s followers to harass others.
In the darkest corners of social media, those filled with hate for a particular group of people gather and incite each other to further hatred. Some of them collect weapons and formulate plans to turn hateful talk into hateful action.
Before the internet, before social media, hateful people would have to physically gather or use telephones or the mail to exchange hateful thoughts and ideas.
Social media has, unfortunately, allowed such people to exchange their hate without ever meeting in person, without even being on the same continent.
But this 21st-century exchange of hate takes place where others can see it happening. It takes place where people who work for Facebook, for Twitter, for YouTube could see it happening if they were dedicated to looking for it.
Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for collecting our data and selling it, or at least making it available, to all manner of businesses.
We want to see them show the same enthusiasm, in testimony before Congress and in action, for identifying those using their platforms to spread hate, and the same amount of enthusiasm for kicking hateful groups and individuals off their platforms.