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Tennessee Lawmakers Kill Resolution Denouncing Neo-Nazis as Domestic Terrorists

A member of the National Socialist Movement holds a shield before a white supremacist rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Oct. 27, 2017. (Emily Molli/NurPhoto/Sipa via AP Images)

The Tennessee House’s State Government Subcommittee refused to advance a resolution denouncing white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups and calling on law enforcement to treat their criminal actions as domestic terrorism.

According to the Tennessean, a Democratic member on Wednesday made a motion to proceed to discussing the resolution sponsored by Dem Rep. John Ray Clemmons, but the committee’s four Republicans — Reps. Bill Sanderson, Bud Hulsey, Mary Littleton and Bob Ramsey — responded with silence. When Clemmons tried to discuss his resolution anyway, he was cut off by chairman Sanderson.

Clemmons said after the meeting that he was in “utter disbelief at what just happened.”

“I didn’t think there was anything controversial about this resolution,” the lawmaker said.

Republican lawmakers did not comment to the Tennessean about killing the resolution, which notes that “recent tragic events have proven that white nationalism and neo-Nazism remain very real threats to social and racial progress” and acknowledges that “throughout the course of our nation’s history, white nationalism has promoted intimidation and violent repression of individuals solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, and immigration status.”

Over the weekend, white nationalist group Identity Evropa held a national conference in the Nashville area and about five dozen members rallied outside the Parthenon in Nashville on Sunday.

“Today, white nationalism has attempted to reinvent itself, self-identifying as the ‘Alt-Right,’ yet their present-day rhetoric and terrorism conjure painful memories of our nation’s past,” the resolution continues. “While free speech and assembly are bedrock values for Americans, white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups promote agendas that are in irreconcilable conflict with our nation’s foundational principles of liberty and justice for all.”

“White nationalism and neo-Nazism are continuing to grow as menaces to societal order that seek to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide the nation, and foment hatred, classism, anti-Semitism, and ethnic eradication… the white nationalist and neo-Nazi message of racial and social intolerance has led to senseless acts of violence that continue to terrorize members of ethnic, racial, and religious minority communities.”

The resolution states that the Tennessee General Assembly agrees to “strongly denounce and oppose the totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.”

“We urge law enforcement to recognize these white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations and to pursue the criminal elements of these domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner and with the same fervor used to protect the United States from other manifestations of terrorism,” it continues, adding that the state and its people “will not tolerate discrimination or hate in any form or manifestation” and “stand united with resolve to promote and ensure equality for all Tennesseans.”

The FBI recognizes white supremacists as domestic extremists, noting they “are motivated by a hatred of other races and religions” and “some try to achieve their political and social goals through violence.”

“White supremacy violent extremists target the federal government and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Their methods have included murder, threats, and bombings,” the FBI adds.

 

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found white supremacists and other far-right extremists perpetrated 59 percent of all extremist-related killings in 2017, a sharp increase from 20 percent in 2016.