Black Identity Extremists Who Don’t Exist

Resisting the FBI’s new racial targeting

Dr. Maulana Karenga | 12/12/2017, 11:50 a.m.
It is the wisdom of the ancestors that “if you know the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.” ...
Dr. Maulana Karenga

It is the wisdom of the ancestors that “if you know the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.” Therefore, when we receive news that the FBI released a so-called “intelligence assessment” pretending a threat from a group of “black identity extremists” that doesn’t exist, we need not be shocked, shaken or even surprised.

For throughout history, it has been the devious way of oppressors to deny and divert attention from their own brutal oppression by constantly indicting and dehumanizing the oppressed. It is also their way to justify practices of repression already in place and to signal and drum up support for policies to be intensified and expanded to deal with black dissent, defiance and resistance.

The FBI report, issued Aug. 3, is titled “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Police Officers.” It claims to be a report alerting the country to an emerging threat from “black identity extremists” who are ideologically motivated to retaliate for “perceived police brutality” against black people.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., however, did a masterful job in questioning U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about it at a House Judiciary Committee hearing and read it into the record.

She gave him no quarter as he hemmed, hawed and hedged, dissembled, pretended and demonstrated ignorance, and sought sanctuary in feigned confusion and mercy requests to be allowed to review and submit answers in writing later. She forced him to admit there is no evidence of any black identity extremist group which has targeted police; that there are white groups who do this and that the government has written no similar report on “white identity extremists”; and that “activists around the country are very concerned that we are getting ready to repeat a very sad chapter in our history where people, who are rightfully protesting” injustice, are unjustly labeled as extremists and subjected to surveillance and harassment. And she requested that he “essentially roll back what is listed in this report. Because it’s not accurate.”

The “sad chapter of our history” reference is from the Counter-intelligence program (Cointelpro) of the 1960s and 70s. Initiated in the 50s, it became especially focused on us as a people in the 1960’s when J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, established it as a program to crush black resistance.

Hoover listed as his essential aims “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize black nationalist organizations.” And to “neutralize” still carries with it an open-ended range of means to achieve its end. Above all, he wanted to prevent our unity, he said, because “in unity there is strength.”

Black nationalist groups were identified, targeted and subjected to various forms of assault; infiltration and disruption; invasive surveillance; legal and extra-legal harassment and violence; media myth-making, attacks and disinformation.

As a result of this classification, targeting and attacks, we suffered police suppression, political imprisonment on trumped up charges, and were forced underground and in exile in other countries as other groups.

Surely, this new FBI report is a beginning variation on the Cointelpro, revived with greater technological capacity for disruption and disinformation, and in a climate of seeded and cultivated racialized fear and hatred, conducted by a man at the top of the heap addicted to name calling, dog whistles to racists and early morning twiddling and tweeting.