On his first day in office, President Biden initiated an unprecedented review of U.S. government efforts to counter domestic terrorism. This review has now resulted in the first-ever national strategy to combat domestic terrorism.
The National Security Council document, entitled the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, notes that “domestic terrorism can take many forms, inspired by a wide range of violent ideologies.” It emphasizes that “the definition of domestic terrorism in our law makes no distinction based on political views—left, right, or center—and neither should we.” And the document thus pledges “to confront domestic terrorism regardless of the particular ideology that motivates individuals to violence.”
Despite these assurances, nobody on the political Right genuinely believes that the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism will be implemented in an “ideologically neutral manner” as the Biden administration promises.
When it comes to political neutrality, the National Strategy has already gotten off to an inauspicious start. As everyone knows, the immediate impetus for the counterterrorism review was the January 6 unrest at the Capitol. Democrats have been smart to draw maximum attention to this tragic day and interpret it through the prism of “terrorism,” because we know from the political science literature on terrorism that terrorist activity tends to backfire politically on the perpetrators by eroding popular support and strengthening the executive to crush dissent.