“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
— Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed in the House back in September, would create new federal law enforcement units focused solely on domestic terrorism. Some politicians and law enforcement officials have said Congress should go further
"In U.S. law there is no list of domestic terrorism organizations the same way there is for foreign terrorist organizations," Wray said before the Senate.
"I don't know if we should have one or not," responded Senator Lindsey Grahm (R–S.C.). "But I think it's time to think about it."
Abrahms argues that such illiberal actions could actually serve to incite terrorism.
"One of the telltale signs of an illiberal government is when it makes no distinction between what it deems as political extremists and tactical extremists," Abrahms says.
Abrahms is concerned that a heavy-handed crackdown lumping the extreme beliefs of some on the right together with the extreme tactics of would-be terrorists will ultimately backfire, just as the war on terror swept up many innocent Muslims and spurred even greater radicalization.
"I'm really worried, frankly, about Timothy McVeigh 2.0. I think that the government needs to do everything possible not to create one," says Abrahms. "But I'm not confident that the government actually is doing that."
Abrahms believes that the government should prosecute those who commit terrorist acts of violence to the fullest extent of the law. However, he worries that there will be some crossover between who the government regards as a political extremist and an actual terrorist.
"We cannot crack down on people just because we don't like their ideology," Abrahms says. "Otherwise the government is going to turn into the thought police and that is going to spawn the next generation of terrorists."
This should be required reading for all of those who will not be inclined to read it. Although those who should read probably would not comprehend the subtle nuance of the tongue brushing the cheek, but not firmly embedded.
Grant’s approach relied on a combination of brute military force and a drastic curtailment of civil liberties, yet it nevertheless has relevance for the current moment and contains lessons for lawmakers who fear that January 6 might have been only the first of widespread attacks on the government and elected officials at all levels, across large swaths of the nation. Officials in our current era have many more legal tools at their disposal to combat such terrorism. But as Grant’s experience shows, it’s not just the tools that count; rather, it’s the willingness to persist in the fight that will likely decide whether these counter-terrorism efforts actually succeed.