Far right fringe groups are not a joke–they pose a legitimate national security risk to the United States.
That's the lesson Harvard professor and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem wants us to learn.
During an interview with CNN political commentator Anderson Cooper, Kayyem concurred with Cooper's observation that "white supremacists" and "violent anti-government extremists" are a major concern for law enforcement.
You can watch her interview in the video below.
Juliette Kayyem youtu.be
"We used to joke in our gallows humor...the radicalization of the right we used to call 'Vanilla ISIS' — in other words it was just about radicalization."
"What we have to remember is they're really focused on an image of America — that they don't like this America, the white supremacist groups and right-wing groups."
She noted that the America these groups hate is "this America," and clarified further, comparing them to the Taliban:
"It is this America, a diverse America, one in which women are equal one in which there is diversity... that sounds very similar to the Taliban."
"And so there is a nexus in terms of both the international sentiment of a radicalization or a sort of fascism that we see in the terrorist groups but that's then repeated by the members of Congress, who we've heard recently sort of radicalizing and talking about violence, and then of course, the right wing media machine."
"So this is not surprising, given what their sentiment is."
After Cooper asked her "what can be done" in response to these sentiments, Kayyem, who was born in Los Angeles to Lebanese parents, said the following:
"Well, people would often ask me what makes America safer, and I would say our capacity to integrate with an open heart."
"That actually in American history, our ability–not perfectly, I'm not denying our history–but over time our willingness to accept people who come here and to integrate them so that their mission is our mission and so that their dream is the American Dream, that they succeed, that their children are better than the next generation, the same thing that all Americans want."
"That's been so successful that if you just look at our demographics, we are now a country that's heading toward majority non-white citizenship, and that doesn't even include immigration in the next two or three decades."
She concluded that continuing to integrate despite this pushback is in the nation's best interest:
"So that's our success story: They view that, of course, as a harm, and we have to rememeber that is America's success, not just in terms of heart and morality, but actually in terms of our safety and security."
"And so what I would simply ask is that the more we can bring people in and make them feel that their dreams are actually our dreams and vice-versa, which they are, that is the American success story, and that also makes us more safe, more secure."
Many concurred with Kayyem's assessment, even evoking recent news stories about a restrictive Texas law that bans virtually all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the biggest terror threat facing the United States today comes from white supremacists.
Both Garland and Mayorkas said domestic terror threats have become more prevalent as a result of online communication, particularly encrypted apps.
The officials also noted that the availability of increasingly lethal weaponry has only amplified these threats.