Technology companies, too, appear unwilling to treat white nationalist terror online the way they have dealt with the online spread of radical Islamic terror groups, such as the Islamic State. Companies like Facebook and Twitter took bold action to remove tens of millions of pieces of ISIS and Al Qaeda propaganda and accounts between 2014 and 2018. Similar standards have not been applied to white nationalists, perhaps because, as a 2018 report from researcher J.M. Berger, who specializes in online extremism, notes, “The task of crafting a response to the alt-right is considerably more complex and fraught with land mines, largely as a result of the movement’s inherently political nature and its proximity to political power.”
While its modern roots predate the Trump administration by many decades, white nationalism has attained a new mainstream legitimacy during Mr. Trump’s time in office.
Discussions of Americans being “replaced” by immigrants, for instance, are a recurring feature on some programs on Fox News. Fox hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, for example, return to these themes frequently. Democrats, Ms. Ingraham told viewers last year, “want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever-increasing number of chain migrants.”
“You will not replace us,” white nationalists proudly chanted at Charlottesville in 2017. (Mr. Trump himself proclaimed that there were “fine people” on both sides of that deadly event.)
In May, bemoaning an “invasion” of immigrants, Mr. Trump asked how immigrants could be stopped during a rally in Florida. “Shoot them,” someone in the crowd yelled. Mr. Trump gave a smirk and said, “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff,” as the crowd exploded in ghoulish laughter.
Far more Americans have died at the hands of domestic terrorists than at the hands of Islamic extremists since 2001, according to the F.B.I. The agency’s resources, however, are still overwhelmingly weighted toward thwarting international terrorism.
The nation owed a debt to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, to take action against the vile infrastructure that allowed the terrorists to achieve their goals that horrible Tuesday. We owe no less of a debt to the victims in El Paso and to the hundreds of other victims of white nationalist terrorism around the nation.