By Alex Hernandez-Zavala
The riot in Capitol Hill was a pathetic display of how America handles domestic unrest. Now that Canada got the ball rolling by labeling the Proud Boys group as a domestic terrorist group, America can use this momentum to add more domestic terrorist groups to their list. They can start by taking a zero-tolerance approach to domestic terrorist groups.
The government needs to bring the hammer down on domestic terrorist groups instead of circumventing and pretending that they’re no threat. Their acknowledgment and current action on these terrorist groups will lead to a more civil nation.
By its most current definition, the FBI acknowledges domestic terrorism as “[v]iolent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”
NPR reports that the political extremist group, the Proud Boys, was declared a terrorist group in Canada. In the report, Public Safety Canada describes the group as “a neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence.”
Yet, America hasn’t even batted an eye at this group.
When looking at a list of all the domestic terrorist groups, Proud Boys isn’t on the list. Instead, you’ll find The Animal Liberation Front, The Army of God, Ku Klux Klan and many others. The latest addition of a domestic terrorist group that was deemed a serious threat was back in the early 2000s.
If the description of the Proud Boys fits well within the FBI’s definition of terrorism, why are they not labeled a terrorist group by the United States?
The U.S. still hasn’t taken real action against groups like the Proud Boys due to tumultuous political conflict and their focus on overseas terrorist organizations. The Proud Boys have been around since 2016 and have been wreaking havoc since then, along with groups like ANTIFA where a strong history of clashing has taken place between them. A classic tale of right extremists against left extremists—-a present issue America has been too tolerant of.
Although Canada declared Proud Boys, and other organizations like it, a terrorist group, they seem to be handling the situation carelessly.
A New York Times report says that “Officials stressed that the designations were unlikely to lead to arrests in the near term.” America should take this chance to show the rest of the world how we handle domestic terrorism by cracking down and sentencing these groups to avoid events like the capital riot.
If America doesn’t act now, we’ll have to ask ourselves how many more events like the capital riot will have to happen for our government to action?
By terminating these domestic terrorist groups, there will be less civil unrest. People will have more faith in the government actually protecting and serving the people’s well-being.
Of course, some may argue that labeling third wing political groups domestic terrorists may set a dangerous precedent for the U.S. to deem any political group as a national threat.
To that, I propose moderation and accountability. By keeping our government accountable for their actions, in this context labeling certain groups domestic terrorists, we can moderate the extent of their power to label such groups national threats. We, the people, will work in tandem with our government in the interest of protecting the nation.
CBC reports, “Every two years the government undergoes a statutory review of the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities to confirm whether those listed continue to meet the legal threshold for listing.” This is something the U.S. should consider implementing to monitor possible and current foreign and domestic threats on a more consistent basis.
We’ve beat around the bush too long; enough people have died, enough damage has been done, our unity has fragmented. Now is time for our government and the new administration to take action and restore the nation built upon unity and justice.
Alex Hernandez-Zavala is a first-year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. He was born in the Central Valley and raised in Salinas, California.
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