This past June, a group of 31 suspects was charged with conspiracy to riot at a Pride event in Idaho. Authorities concluded that those charged belonged to the white supremacist Patriot Front. The police were called to the scene after getting a call from someone at the event that provided a description of the scene in which the suspects entering a U-Haul were outfitted with tactical gear, such as shields, to aid their aim of rioting to disrupt the event. There is a need for relevant stakeholders to comprehend the group to ensure the security of their communities. Moreover, they also need to understand the more significant threat that the overall movement poses to the macro-level implications for the country.
Origins of the Patriot Front
The group emerged from the aftermath of the now infamous 2017 alt-right rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia. Around 2017, the organization splintered from the more prominent white nationalist Vanguard America, from which they derived much of their hateful ideology. Like their predecessor organization, their hateful vitriol is directed at marginalized groups who have historically been the target of neo-Nazis. Their ideology is much in line with previous far-right organizations; however, they differentiate themselves through one of their slogans which states that the United States was ‘conquered’ and not stolen. The mention of such a phrase has invoked discussions within civil society about the controversial history of how nations within the Americas came to be, bringing into question the legitimacy of the institutions that have played a fundamental role in the region’s political development. While their statement might be construed as unrelenting support for institutions that systemically benefit them, their extremist views stand in contrast to even this sentiment as they hope to overthrow the government of the United States to create an ethno-state predicated on citizenship solely in the hands of those of purely European descent.
Activities of the Front
Since the incident earlier this year, they have ramped up their activities in recent months and posted many hateful pieces of their propaganda. They have also become increasingly brazen in their attempts to intimidate minority communities within the United States. The latest incident has been the Patriot Front marching outside a Drag-Storytime event in Columbus, Ohio. Due to the presence of the far-right organization, the hosts of the event were forced to cancel the event in they cited the potential risks to the security of attendees. The group’s actions are not made within a vacuum but rather a deliberate attempt to minimize the visibility of a group that has just had the opportunity to gain acceptance within contemporary society through landmark cases such as Obergefell v. Hodges. However, policymakers must understand that they target many minorities, and their ideology is inherently undemocratic.
State of the Far-right and What Can Be Done
The human security of minority groups has come under fire from both the fringes of American politics and politicians who sympathize with similar views. Legislators across the country have drafted legislation that targets activities that are central to minority communities which have emboldened members of the far-right to become more active with their operations. Compounding this has been recent statements made by individuals with massive online followings, which have only incited more hateful acts. This rhetoric has coincided with an unprecedented onslaught of hate speech on social media platforms. When this is taken into account, it is clear that minority communities face many threats to their human security across several vectors: institutional (from far-right politicians through legislation), non-institutional (physical threats from far-right organizations), and within cyberspace (non-physical threats on social media).
Furthermore, the threat these groups pose to politicians remains high, as evidenced by the recent attack against the spouse of former U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. To combat these threats, there must exist an open and active dialogue between law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups that work on behalf of these communities. Advocacy groups often compile data on the rate of incidents that their community faces. Having honest conversations with law enforcement will allow them to drive home the magnitude of threats they face. The level of the threats can help to allocate the necessary resources to safeguard members of minority communities. Another way to combat these groups is to ardently pursue the furthest extent of the law when far-right individuals commit crimes to provide a deterrence to these organizations. Social media companies must also have more robust content moderation and consult counter-extremism organizations to help to understand the ever-evolving nature of the far-right threat.
Furthermore, the rights of marginalized groups must be enshrined in law by the legislative branch of the government. Without a meaningful commitment to them, the likelihood that extremist groups will commit attacks against them increases; thus, their threat to American democracy does as well. Without taking these proactive measures, the United States opens itself up to another scenario akin to January 6th.