A Persistent & Lethal Threat: White Supremacy in the United States
February 19, 2021
On January 6th, 2021, the nation watched as a violent mob attacked The Capitol, trying to halt the certification of the vote for the President of the United States. These seditious acts were inspired by months of disinformation and heated rhetoric in a polarized political environment. But in order to confront what happened, it is necessary to take a closer look at the insurrectionists themselves. These were not political protesters arguing for their rights, but rather people who were seeking to use violence and threats to overturn an election. Many of the mostly white insurrectionists spoke in apocalyptic terms of saving their country while rallying around symbols of hate: from the confederate battle flag, to neo-nazi imagery. The Department of Homeland Security now considers white supremacists to be the most “persistent and lethal threat” to the United States of America. This dialogue explored the ideologies of white supremacy, the groups that champion these beliefs, and the forums that enable these individuals to connect and grow their movements.
This event was produced in partnership with The Brennan Center for Justice and New York University's John Brademas Center.
Hannah Allam is a Washington-based national security correspondent for NPR, focusing on homegrown extremism. Before joining NPR, she was a national correspondent at BuzzFeed News, covering U.S. Muslims and other issues of race, religion and culture. Allam previously reported for McClatchy, spending a decade overseas as bureau chief in Baghdad during the Iraq war and in Cairo during the Arab Spring rebellions.
She moved to Washington in 2012 to cover foreign policy, then in 2015 began a yearlong series documenting rising hostility toward Islam in America. Her coverage of Islam in the United States won three national religion reporting awards in 2018 and 2019. Allam was part of McClatchy teams that won an Overseas Press Club award for exposing death squads in Iraq and a Polk Award for reporting on the Syrian conflict. She was a 2009 Nieman fellow at Harvard and currently serves on the board of the International Women's Media Foundation.
Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Executive Director of The Soufan Center
Naureen Chowdhury Fink is the Executive Director of The Soufan Center. Previously, she served as the Senior Policy Adviser on Counterterrorism and Sanctions at the United Kingdom’s Mission to the United Nations, leading representation and negotiations in the Security Council and General Assembly. Previously, she was a policy specialist with UN Women and the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), with a focus on integrating gender into the full spectrum of counter-terrorism issues.
Before joining the United Nations, she was head of research and analysis for the Global Center on Cooperative Security, leading on the multilateral security portfolio focused on international response to terrorism and violent extremism, armed conflict, and political instability, and the role of international and regional actors. In doing so, she built on earlier work at the International Peace Institute, where she developed the counterterrorism portfolio.
She has developed and implemented CT and CVE projects across the globe, in regions as diverse as West Africa and South Asia, and published widely on counterterrorism, gender, the UN and deradicalization efforts. She has been a regular panelist at high level and expert events and brings to her roles the experiences of living and working in diverse regions and dynamic multicultural environments.
Michael German, Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program
Michael German is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, which seeks to ensure that the U.S. government respects human rights and fundamental freedoms in conducting the fight against terrorism. A former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, his work focuses on law enforcement and intelligence oversight and reform. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, German served as the policy counsel for national security and privacy for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office.
Vida Johnson, Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown Law
Vida Johnson, prior to joining Georgetown University Law Center, was a supervising attorney in the Trial Division at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she worked for eight years. At PDS Ms. Johnson was assigned to the most serious cases at the “Felony One” level, and her experience included numerous trials in D.C. Superior Court representing indigent clients facing charges including homicide, sexual assault, and armed offenses. Ms. Johnson’s responsibilities at PDS also included supervising other trial attorneys and serving as one of the agency’s two representatives to the D.C. Superior Court Sentencing Guidelines Commission. In 2009, Ms. Johnson was a Visiting Associate Professor in the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. Before joining PDS, Professor Johnson was an E. Barrett Prettyman fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. As a fellow she represented indigent adults in the D.C. Superior Court and supervised students in the Criminal Justice Clinic. Ms. Johnson earned her law degree from New York University Law School in 2000 and she earned her B.A. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995.
David E. Kirkland, Executive Director, NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools
Dr. David E. Kirkland is the Executive Director of The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools. He has also been described as an activist and educator, cultural critic and author. A leading national scholar and advocate for educational justice, Dr. Kirkland's transdisciplinary scholarship explores a variety of equity related topics: school climate and discipline; school integration and choice; culture and education; vulnerable learners; and intersections among race, gender, and education. With many groundbreaking publications to his credit, he has analyzed the cultures, languages, and texts of urban youth, using quantitative, critical literary, ethnographic, and sociolinguistic research methods to answer complex questions at the center of equity and social justice in education. Dr. Kirkland taught middle and high school for several years in Michigan. He’s also organized youth empowerment and youth mentoring programs for over a decade in major U.S. cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New York. He currently leads efforts to enhance education options for vulnerable youth throughout New York City, and beyond. Dr. Kirkland has received many awards for his research and educational advocacy work, including the 2016 AERA Division G Mid-Career Scholars Award, the 2008 AERA Division G Outstanding Dissertation Award. He was a 2009-10 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a 2011-12 NAEd/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, and is a former fellow of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Research Foundation's “Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color” program. In addition to several other boards, he currently serves as a trustee for the Research Foundation of the National Council of Teachers of English. A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Black Males, the fifth book that Dr. Kirkland has authored, is a TC Press bestseller and winner of the 2015 Daniel E. Griffiths Research Award, the 2014 AESA Critics Choice Award, and the 2014 NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. He is also co-editor of the newly released Students Right to Their Own Language, a critical sourcebook published by Bedford/St. Martins Press. Named by Ebony magazine as one of the most brilliant scholars in the U.S., Dr. Kirkland has been a pivotal intellectual voice promoting educational justice in the U.S. and abroad.