It seems like almost any story I write these days can begin with the phrase “COVID-19 has sparked worries throughout the nation,” only to touch on whatever specifically the story is about. I can write it like that because it’s generally true. Most of the Second Amendment news out there has some bearing on COVID-19.
Hell, most news these days is related to COVID-19.
That’s not really surprising as it has dominated the news cycle long enough that people are looking to find fresh spins on the impact of the disease.
However, it’s also not entirely unlikely that some see the disease as an opportunity. I’m not talking about those who jack up the prices on goods to take advantage of the fear. I’m talking about those who see this as a chance to really create chaos.
Now, Congress wants answers as to what’s being done to combat those extremists.
A Congressional committee on Tuesday asked the Homeland Security Department to explain what is being done to prevent violent extremists here and abroad from exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to terrorize Americans.
The letter from the House Homeland Security Committee, sent to the chief of threat prevention and security policy, comes on the heels of two federal assessments distributed to state and local authorities that radical white extremists were encouraging those infected with the virus to spread it to police and Jewish population centers.
“Extremists have, of course, long made calls to violence against vulnerable groups,” the letter states. “However, as the uncertainty, fears, and anxiety engendered by this pandemic strain our social fabric in many ways, we must renew our efforts to guard against vulnerabilities that bad actors may exploit.”
The letter also noted the desire by ISIS to leverage European preoccupation with the virus to gain the release of some of their members from prison.
Of course, that’s international terrorism and since they don’t really fear dying in the first place, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them act now in an effort to take advantage of the crisis.
However, some home-grown extremists argue that they’d never think of doing something during a time like this.
Extremist activists in Georgia dismissed the warnings by the FBI as either fantasy or a hoax perpetrated by federal authorities or planted by left-wing activists.
“I think that is absolutely hogwash,” said Michael Weaver, a “pro-white” blogger northwest of Atlanta. “I’ve been a white nationalist for 26 years. I wouldn’t conceive of anything like that. It’s despicable.”
Weaver said he believes the idea was planted by the FBI, an agency he calls “domestic terrorists.” He also has theories on the virus itself.
Of course, Weaver believes the virus is a bioweapon the Chinese lost control of. If so, it’s the lamest bioweapon out there.
Now, is Weaver right? Are groups like white nationalists unable to conceive of extremist acts at a time like this?
Probably not, but do you really think Weaver would admit publicly that someone was planning something? I sure wouldn’t.
However, one good thing going for us is how few places there are that would make inviting targets for any kind of extremism. There aren’t many gatherings of people anymore, after all, so there’s not really anywhere to rack up a big body count with their violence.
Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities. We still have to get groceries, after all, and that may well become the target for anyone wanting to get froggy at a time like this. Of course, that makes it easier for law enforcement to harden a given location, but I wouldn’t trust that they’ll know beforehand.
Remember, also, that domestic extremism comes in all stripes. Anyone can be a target for an extremist, so it’s vital that you carry whenever and wherever you can during these tense times. Anyone regardless of race, religion, or gender can find themselves in a bad place at a time like this, so be ready.