Democrats need to believe in ‘white supremacist’ terrorism the same way Republicans needed ‘Islamofascism’

It’s about political identity, not safety.

At least ten people were shot and killed in Monterey Park, California on Saturday night, a predominantly Asian area.

Who was the shooter? Left-leaning super sleuths on Twitter instantly knew: It was a white supremacist.

Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff didn’t use the term “white supremacist” but teased, based on exactly zero evidence, that the shooting might be racially motivated.

Then we found out the suspect was Asian.

But even if he was Asian, the problem still has to be white supremacy.

After the January 6, 2021 riot on Capitol Hill by Donald Trump supporters, Democrats have consistently stoked fear that rightwing mobs, white supremacists in particular, pose a daily threat to Americans’ personal and national security.

Whether this is actually true or not is beside the point. Democrats need a foe. An “other.” They are the good people. The Republicans are the bad people, encouraging white supremacist violence.

These kinds of feel-good delusions are not new.

After 9/11 and throughout the Bush and Obama eras, a conservative staple was that “Islamofascism” lurked around every corner, where Muslim citizens and immigrants were crafting their next terrorist plot or even organizing to impose Sharia law on America.

If that sounds farfetched in 2023, it’s because it was.

But what has reality ever had to do with fear mongering?

Frequent Sean Hannity guest and Ted Cruz adviser Frank Gaffney warned of the constant Muslim terrorist threat in America. “It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] or a derivative organization,” declared Gaffney’s intentionally named ‘Center for Security Policy’ in 2011. “Consequently, most of the Muslim American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.”

This was around the time many conservatives were searching for Obama’s “real” birth certificate and insisting the president was part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Gaffney wrote a whole book about it.


Conservative activist Pamela Gellar vowed to stop the ”Islamisation of America” and “creeping Sharia.” Neoconservative John Bolton was an ally of Gellar’s and other anti-Arab bigots for many years likely because it helped continue support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, the primary neocon mission.

The “Islamofascist” threat business had so much cache on the Right at the time, that even Louisiana Governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, of Indian descent, said we might need “no-go zones” for American Muslims, similar to Europe.

This paranoia still lingers on the Right.

9/11 was the worst domestic attack in American history and understandably terrified the country. But was there any serious constant domestic threat by the Muslim community? Was Sharia Law ever imminent? Was Barack Obama leading the Islamofascist charge?

All of this sounds even more absurd today. But it was central to so many Republicans’ identities for years.

Today, Democrats imagine “white supremacist” terrorism as a much bigger threat than it is.

The January 6 riot rightly disturbed many. It disturbed me. But does that event—that horrible spectacle—represent a constant domestic threat by rightwingers or white supremacists? Should we be on the lookout every day? Are American towns nationwide on verge of turning into 2017 Charlottesville? Is Donald Trump leading this white supremacist takeover?

Obviously, this sounds silly—but it’s current Democrat orthodoxy.

In 2020, independent journalist Glenn Greenwald summarized this phenomenon and how it is used to justify censoring conservatives. In an interview reported by the Washington Examiner, “Greenwald said by making Trump and his supporters a permanent ‘existential threat’ to the country, media outlets and social media companies have wrestled power from anyone who disagrees while directing and moderating conversations about politics and culture on the internet.”

“Obviously, after 9/11, that was the strategy of the Bush-Cheney administration, it’s the way they consolidated a lot of power by elevating people’s perceptions way beyond what was real of the threat of Islamic terrorism to allow them to do essentially everything they did,” Greenwald added. “The same exact thing is happening now.”

When an alleged Asian gunman goes on a shooting spree against other Asians, progressives need that shooter to be a white man, in the same way conservatives a decade ago itched for any opportunity to prove how serious the supposed Muslim threat was.


There were attempted attacks in the US by those of Arab descent after 9/11. A Muslim man’s failed attempt to blow up his shoes on a plane in 2001. The 2009 Fort Hood shooting. A Muslim tried to blow up his underwear on a plane in 2009. There were other incidents. But nothing that rose to the level of 9/11, and certainly no logical pattern that could indict the 3 million Muslims living in America or 70 million who supported Obama.

Still, many conservatives believed Democrats shamefully harbored these supposed Muslim terrorists with Obama steering the ship. Leaders and others throughout the Republican Party would say things like this.

There have been violent attacks in recent years by white supremacists. The massacre at a black church by a white supremacist in Charleston, SC in 2015. A woman murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottesville in 2017. If you Google “white supremacy domestic terrorism” you will find endless links from both government and private websites telling you there is a domestic terrorist threat coming primarily from the Right. The subtext to these narratives is that the 74 million people who supported Trump pose a danger.

Hell, “subtext” is being too kind.

Many progressives think Republicans shamefully harbor white supremacists with Trump steering the ship. Leaders and others throughout the Democratic Party say things like this today.

But the “Islamofascist” fear mongers of yesterday and “white supremacist” terrorism fear mongers of today are not polar opposites. They are mirror images.

The supposed specters of Islamofascism and white racist terrorism speak more to Republican and Democrat political identities during certain eras than any practical concern about safety and security.

But you can’t tell that to zealous partisans who already have their mind made up. An Islamofascist is an Islamofascist, dammit, even if he’s not. A white supremacist is a white supremacist.

Even if he’s Asian.

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Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the former politics editor for