The Trump Administration Is Pulling a Grant From a Group That Combats Neo-Nazis

An Obama-era program will shift its focus and dollars to groups combating Al Qaeda and ISIS.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The Department of Homeland Security announced today that it is restarting a $10 million grant program for “Countering Violent Extremism” but will no longer fund Life After Hate, a group dedicated to countering neo-Nazis and white extremism.

In January, before President Barack Obama left office, DHS announced it would be giving grants to Life After Hate and 30 other anti-extremist groups and law enforcement agencies, but the Trump administration suspended them before the money had been awarded. The new list of grantees announced today by Trump’s DHS includes groups that combat Al Qaeda and ISIS and leaves out organizations primarily focused on countering white supremacists and other far-right hate groups. Perhaps this should come as no surprise because, as Reuters reported in February, Trump transition officials as far back as December were debating changing the focus and name of the program from “Countering Violent Extremism” to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” President Trump has also made it a habit to largely ignore attacks committed by anyone who doesn’t qualify as a “radical Islamic terrorist.”

“Obviously we are disappointed in that decision,” Life After Hate co-founder and board member Tony McAlver told Mother Jones. Comprised of 50 former members of right-wing hate groups, Life After Hate has received 10 times more requests for help in the past year than in the previous five years combined, McAlver says. The organization was hoping to secure a $400,000 grant from DHS, which would have allowed Life After Hate to expand its efforts with an in-house tech team to identify and counter neo-Nazi recruitment online. “It was not to pay salaries and stuff,” McAlver says. “It was for a specific online campaign.”

McAlver was not told by DHS why it was pulling the grant, though he speculates that “they are only going to fund things targeting ISIS and Al Qaeda.” DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Excluding the Pulse nightclub shooting last year, far-right militants have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. Between 2002 and 2016, according to New America, Islamists launched nine attacks that killed 45 people, while right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead. Just this month, a white supremacist stabbed two people to death on a Portland commuter train after they tried to prevent him from attacking a group of women whom he believed to be Muslim.

“It is not something to ignore,” McAlver says. “We think the need for our services is greater than ever.” 

Update: Responding to questions from Mother Jones, DHS denied that Life After Hate was excluded because of its focus on far-right extremism. “DHS used its discretion to include other factors and information when reviewing each applicant” such as whether the applicants “were viable to continue after the award period,” said DHS spokeswoman Lucy Martinez. “The program has not been altered to focus on any one type of violent extremism,” she added, maintaining that 16 projects funded by DHS “are equipped to handle all types of violent extremism, including white supremacist violent extremism.”

 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate