WASHINGTON – Only days before the Orlando massacre by a radical Islamic terrorist that left 49 dead and another 53 wounded, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its Interim Report and Recommendations by its Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Subcommittee.
The subcommittee and report is the result of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s direction in November 2015 for CVE to act as an “incubator of ideas for the new Office for Community Partnerships (DHS/OCP)” and to “leverage outside expertise and new thinking to support and enhance as well as assist in reframing and re-envisioning, where necessary the department’s CVE efforts.”
The subcommittee’s findings claim the nation requires the “full engagement of our whole community” to “effectively address and conquer the challenge of violent extremism.”
The report states, “Today, more than ever, we must harness the power of American ingenuity, creativity and resilience. We must engage, activate and align the private and non-governmental and academic sectors to address violent extremism, and the threat that it poses – in all its forms, across all communities.”
Topping the list of recommendations, the subcommittee unanimously recommended a significant increase to staffing funding by as much as $100 million for both grants and program administration for the DHS/OCP, the new agency charged with implementing CVE efforts, claiming the current funding level of $10 million for grant programs in 2016 is insufficient to effectively counter the spread of violent extremist ideology in the United States.
According to the subcommittee, the $10 million in grants “does not in itself offer the chance to level – much less gain advantage against – increasing aggressive efforts to recruit and radicalize our youth by violent extremist organizations at home and abroad.”
While stating a need to “recognize the cultural and technological trends shaping identities of Millennials and to directly engage them in efforts,” the subcommittee cautioned the government to avoid “stigmatizing specific communities or those seeking mental health services and ensure adherence to the privacy restrictions inherent in the Privacy Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).”
Although the subcommittee recommends that the government “take all forms of violent extremism and radicalization seriously, prioritizing those forms that pose the greatest threats to safety and security, most urgently,” it does not specify what those “forms of violent extremism and radicalization” may consist of.
However, it recommends prioritizing attention on the Millennial generation, those under 30 years old, whom it considers most at risk of online radicalization and recruitment and, by far, the largest demographic being targeted by extremists.
It does not specify what groups or organizations would be most likely to target this broad demographic for radicalization and recruitment but, as one of its key recommendations, it states, “Prioritize attention on efforts to counter the recruitment of youth to violent ideologies across race, religion, ethnicity, location, socioeconomic levels and gender.”
The subcommittee report becomes a lesson in political correctness and despite “disagreement among scholars, government officials and activists about the right lexicon to use around the issues of violent extremism,” it claims “report after report has recommended that the U.S. Government be consistent in its language and its meaning, highlighting that tone and word choice matter.”
It goes on to say, “Under no circumstances should we be using language that will alienate or be disrespectful of fellow Americans. Thus we need to be clearer in what we mean and how we say it.”
The subcommittee report emphasizes how “tone and word choice matter” because “we are at a particular moment on the world stage with global events driving fear, political and cultural rhetoric leaning on sharp and divisive language, and deep polarization and distrust across communities.”
The report claims we have unknowingly constructed an “us and them” narrative of division.
It then discusses DHS’s 2008 guidance about lexicon within the context of the “War on Terror” and states it is “important to review as it has bearing on groups like ISIL. It instructs the Department to ensure terminology is ‘properly calibrated to diminish the recruitment efforts of extremists who argue that the West is at war with Islam.’”
Condemning violent extremism “in all forms” the subcommittee says we must be better at communicating with the public and within government because “more people know we need to fight the spread of extremist ideologies but many do not know what we mean when we say we want to do that through CVE programs.”
Many do not know what they mean because they have scrapped the term “radical Islamic extremism,” when tone and word choice should actually matter.
Recommendations include rejecting “religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.”
To combat “us v. them” it recommends using “American Muslim” instead of “Muslim American” and “Muslim communities” instead of Muslim world.”
It implores the use of American English rather than religious, legal and cultural terms like “jihad,” “sharia,” “takfir” or “umma.”
However, the subcommittee provides no English examples for substitutes.
Noting there are new aspects to the threat emerging, such as women radicalizing, but, compared to what is known about foreign populations and radicalization, it claims there is limited data on American youth and their vulnerabilities.
With a desire to implement its politically correct agenda via the new DHS/OCP across all 50 states, the subcommittee again laments that the $10 million in funding for 2016 to expand locally led efforts to implement CVE programming, there is no guarantee from Congress that these “woefully low” funds will continue to grow in the 2017 budget request, leaving them with a segmented and insufficient domestic approach.
Claiming the new era of threats requires a proliferation of local programs across the nation in a wide variety of ways to “protect our nation’s children,” as there are over 120 million youth in America under the age of 30, the subcommittee says Americans must be made aware of the need for non-governmental money to achieve their goal of expanding government-funded programs that deal specifically with stopping the appeal of groups like ISIL.
Because there are less than five small regional government-funded programs, only “a handful of experimental initiatives in the pipeline” and limited private donations to this cause, the subcommittee concluded, “Things must change.”
Pointing out 44.2 percent of the Millennial Generation is made up of a minority race or ethnic group and the population currently under 5 years of age is a majority-minority generation, the subcommittee goes on about how the American Freedom Party, a political party that promotes white nationalism, has recently established a youth wing and states, “they are not alone in doing so.”
It claims youth-focused wings of extremist organizations allow young people to draw in their peers and to facilitate marketing strategies that work.
The report provides no footnote on its assertion: “In the last few years, we have watched as youth in our country and globally are being radicalized at a concerning rate, crossing lines of race, nationality, socio-economic status, ideology, education and gender,” it seems to imply white supremacist radicalization is the biggest problem.
It states afterward, with a footnote, “Researchers confirm that the median age for those recruited and radicalized to become foreign fighters for ISIL is 26 years old.”
The subcommittee recommends taking action to develop a curriculum in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, education experts and nonprofit organizations to teach children appropriate online etiquette to mitigate online hate.
It also recommends creating and implementing a “cohesive redesign of discussion around American history to puncture incorrect understanding of American history through partners such as the Smithsonian, the Department of state’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Education and the Public Broadcasting Service, and other organizations and experts, to normalize cross-community conversation to eradicate ideas that any community is an ‘other’”
The Subcommittee also calls for focusing on gender diversity of youth through “careful attention to the range of push and pull factors that attracts individuals of differing genders,” and creation of a “Virtual Department of Homeland Security made up of university students modeled after the Department of State’s Virtual Foreign Service.”