FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 2, 2021, about the Jan. 6 Insurrection, domestic terrorism and other threats. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)
Republicans are determined to blame Black Lives Matter and antifa for the Capitol Hill riot. But after Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the insurrection, there’s no doubt that white supremacy was the real culprit.
FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed what many of us already knew — that white supremacy is thriving in America. The sentiment that has been brewing for several years reached a pinnacle when an angry mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Though its prominence rises and declines with the political climate, it has always been there waiting for the right moment to explode. And there is one thing we know for sure — the scourge of the white superiority ideology will never go away.
But it will continue to flourish until law enforcement officials and politicians from Washington and every little town in America decide it’s time to stop allowing it to wreak havoc. The Senate hearing showed no indication that will happen anytime soon.
Many Republican lawmakers have chosen to ignore the facts about the insurrection. Politicians and conservative pundits continue to perpetuate the lie that Black Lives Matter and antifa were responsible for the insurrection.
They refuse to admit that many of the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol were white supremacists who support Donald Trump. The former president spent four years cultivating this large constituency within his base.
The white nationalists who took over the Capitol didn’t try to hide their identity any more than the neo-Nazis who rallied around the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. The insurrectionists boldly carried Confederate battleflags through the hallways and wore T-shirts that said, “Camp Auschwitz.”
Republicans are the only ones attempting to minimize their involvement.
The FBI director, who is leading the investigation into the Capitol Hill riot, made it clear that Republicans are off base when they try to deny that white supremacy was one of the root causes of the insurrection.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons asked Wray outright, “Has there so far been any evidence that the Jan. 6 riot, the insurrection, was organized by people simply posing as supporters of President Trump?”
Wray answered, “We have not seen any evidence of that.”
Coons asked, “Is there any evidence at all that it was organized or planned or carried out by groups like antifa and Black Lives Matter?”
Wray answered, “We have not seen any evidence of that.”
Coons asked, “Is there any doubt the people who stormed the Capitol included white supremacists and other far-right extremist organizations?”
Wray answered, “There is no doubt that it included individuals that we would call militia violent extremists and, in some instances, individuals that were racially motivated violent extremists.”
That doesn’t let the FBI off the hook, though. The nation’s top policing agency should not have been caught off-guard. Everyone involved in monitoring white supremacy should have seen the Jan. 6 attack coming.
The evidence of the potential for violence did not come from last summer’s social unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd, as some Republicans would have people believe. There were many other indications that racially motivated extremism had reached terrorist levels.
Charlottesville was a warning. Kyle Rittenhouse also gave fair warning when he killed two men and injured a third during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha. A gunman massacred dozens of people, most of them Mexican immigrants, in El Paso, Texas. The deadly attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was another clear sign.
No one paid attention to the signs, in part, because in each case, the alleged perpetrators were white. There was no reason for alarm.
Wray reiterated that racially motivated violence not only makes up the biggest chunk of FBI’s domestic terrorism caseload, but over the past decade, such cases have been the deadliest.
Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade. In 2019, there were 51 hate crime murders, the highest number since the FBI began collecting data in the 1990s.
No one can scientifically explain the rise, but Wray offered a look into the mindset of the perpetrators.
“It’s more and more the ideologies that are motivating some of the extremists, and they are less and less coherent, less and less linear, less easy to pin down,” he said. “In some cases, people are coming up with customized belief systems, a little bit of this and a little bit of that … combined with some personal grievance in their lives.”
That sentiment most likely is what drew many people to Washington to try to overturn the presidential election.
According to Wray, two criminal groups were operating on Jan. 6.
There were people who got swept up in their emotions and engaged in low-level criminal behavior such as trespassing on the Capitol grounds. Make no mistake, though, these folks need to be prosecuted.
The other was by far the most dangerous — the group that breached Capitol grounds and attempted to disrupt Congress. Among them were people who clearly came to Washington with plans to engage in domestic terrorism.
There’s no doubt, Wray said, that this dangerous group included “racially motivated violent extremists who advocate for the superiority of the white race.”
The insurgence on Capitol Hill is the most obvious signal yet that white supremacy is an attack on democracy. It is as vibrant today as it was a century ago.
Republicans are helping white supremacists reach their goal by diverting attention elsewhere.