Just days after signing an executive order to ban innocent people from entering the country on the basis of their ethnicity, the Trump administration is reportedly about to “revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies” to instead focus solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter reported to Reuters on Thursday. President Donald Trump, who wants you to believe the (imagined) War on Christians is the only form of legitimate religious persecution, is absolutely hellbent on demonizing Muslims to the point that he’s literally forgotten terrorist attacks by white supremacists and Christian extremists remain threats in the U.S., as well.
The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” sources told Reuters. Either way, both titles misleadingly equate Islam with acts of extremism that have nothing to do with and do not at all reflect the nature of the belief system. The sources also confirmed to Reuters that the program would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.
What Trump seems to forget is that terrorist attacks as a result of white supremacy are almost a part of American tradition. From the innumerable lynchings and murders of African Americans by the Ku Klux Klan post-Civil War, to the case of white supremacist Dylann Roof shooting and killing nine in a black church almost two years ago, to the attack on a mosque just up north in Quebec by an alleged white nationalist, there is no shortage of examples of racist white men’s capacity to behave violently and commit acts of terrorism.
Where the individual acts of people of color must sweepingly represent their race or ethnicity, white people have the privilege of being regarded and respected as individuals. They are judged by their individual acts and not those of their fellow white people; now more than ever under the Trump administration, this won’t be the case where non-Christian people of color are regarded.
Additionally, in an uncomfortable twist of irony, Trump’s crackdown solely on terrorism committed by extremists who have misinterpreted Islam comes at a time of increasing rates of violence and domestic terrorism against abortion clinics. Clinics are increasingly targeted and subjected to arson, intimidation, and less than two years ago in Colorado, a fatal shooting. The perpetrators are more often than not anti-choice, practicing Christians, who view fertilized eggs, but not women and abortion providers, as human beings whose lives must be defended at all cost.
Like Christianity and essentially all religion, Islam can be interpreted peacefully and, of course, not so peacefully. But unlike when terrorist attacks are performed by Christian extremists, Islam is sweepingly portrayed as a source of terrorism, where society instead accords Christianity the benefit of the doubt. (I’m sure this has nothing to do with the skin colors of the followers of these two religions.)
But it seems that to the Trump administration, acts of terror committed by white supremacists and extremist Christians should not be taken seriously. The fact that Trump is a white Christian male who has hardly been shy about his notions of the superiority of whiteness and Christianity speaks volumes about why his administration has made this awful decision. But it also stands to reason that Trump simply doesn’t want to alienate his base — that is, white supremacists who view him as a symbol of hope, and Christian abortion opponents who voted for him solely because of the conservative SCOTUS Justices Trump promised to nominate.