Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) filed legislation last week to codify “conspiracy to commit white supremacy” in federal hate crime laws.
The Leading Against White Supremacy Act, introduced days after the beginning of the new Congress, would enable the Department of Justice to prevent “violent activity” in relation to white supremacy ideology. The bill does not define white supremacy. Nevertheless, it adds “white supremacy based motivation against any person” to existing statutes that already introduce penalties for crimes perpetrated against another person because of “race, color, religion, or national origin.”
The bill defines “conspiracy to engage in white supremacy inspired hate crime” as an activity “between two or more persons engaged in the planning, development, preparation, or perpetration of a white supremacy inspired hate crime.” At least one of the two or more conspirators must have published material advancing “white supremacist ideology,” “replacement theory,” or any “hate speech” directed against non-white groups on social media or other platforms where the content could be “viewed by persons who are predisposed to engaging in any action in furtherance of a white supremacy inspired hate crime.”
Lee cited testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said that “white supremacy” represents a “major domestic terrorist threat” during a social media exchange with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) about the legislation. Wray indeed told lawmakers two years ago that extremists who “advocate for the superiority of the white race” were the primary source of lethal attacks perpetrated by violent domestic extremists in 2018 and 2019.
Whistleblowers have detailed pressure from within the law enforcement agency to reclassify cases as “domestic violent extremism” when the circumstances do not merit such a distinction. A letter sent to Wray last year by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asserted that the FBI’s decision to manipulate domestic violent extremist data “cheapens actual examples of violent extremism.”
The Biden administration has ordered internal efforts to “root out white supremacy and extremism” within agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security. Left-wing activist organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center claim that entities such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes have successfully “infused once-marginalized, white supremacist ideas into mainstream Republican discourse and politics with the goal of maintaining a grip on power and silencing communities of color.”
Lee, who has served in the House of Representatives for nearly three decades, formerly supported a bill that would have launched a commission to study the possibility of slavery reparations. She later said that reparations for African-Americans “could have cut COVID-19 transmission and infection rates both among blacks and the population at large.”