Trump Actually Slashed Funding to Fight White Supremacist Violence Prior to Florida School Shooting
A white supremacist group in Florida has claimed ties to the alleged shooter in this week's devastating shooting at a Florida school. As the investigation continues, the true motives of the shooter and ties to any ideology remain uncertain, but the group's willingness to tie itself to such an atrocity speaks to the appetite for violence inherent in the ideology.
According to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacists and other far-right groups made up the bulk of extremism-related deaths in 2017. Meanwhile, Muslim extremists were only responsible for 26 percent of these deaths.
But even as this kind of dangerous white supremacist bigotry persists in the United States, President Donald Trump's administration has slashed funding meant to combat white supremacist extremism.
The Department of Homeland Security pulled back a $400,000 grant allocated by the Obama administration to Life After Hate, a group that works to dissuade right-wing extremists from violent ideologies. A total of $10 million in funds similar to this were frozen as the administration aimed to focus more on domestic terrorism committed by Muslims and less on white supremacists. The administration's 2018 budget completely cut the program's funding of $50 million.
The department also reportedly changed the name of its Countering Violent Extremism program to Countering Islamic Extremism.
“These findings are a stark reminder that domestic extremism is a serious threat to our safety and security,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt of the report published in January. “We saw two car-ramming attacks in the U.S. last year—one from an Islamic terrorist and another from a white supremacist in Charlottesville—and the number of deaths attributed to white supremacists increased substantially. The bottom line is we cannot ignore one form of extremism over another. We must tackle them all.”
Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, agreed.
“It’s a disgrace that Trump is cutting out Countering Violent Extremism funds for white supremacists and neo-Nazis. We know that the domestic terror threat from them is as great as it from Islamic radicals. It’s a very serious situation,” she said in a statement to the Hill.