The president of the United States may be the most powerful man in the world, but even an executive order cannot defy the immutable law of physics governing the relationship between having one's cake and eating it, too.
The administration's new 23-page strategy for countering violent extremism, released yesterday, seeks to preempt terrorist radicalization without specifically targeting Muslims, a "color blind" approach, so to speak. Let's look at some of the specific proposals, and see how they might work.
1) U.S. Attorneys will be tasked with outreach and engagement to communities at risk of radicalization. So to combat white supremacist recruitment and ideology, the U.S. Attorney in Texas, for instance, might hold roundtables with leaders of the local white community. Keep in mind that white people, of course, are the target audience for radical racist recruiters.
2) The Justice Department will produce brochures that explain steps white people can take if they feel they have been discriminated against.
3) White people will be engaged on issues other than white supremacist ideology, so that they don't feel that the government only sees them a national security threat.
4) Federal training programs will be scrutinized to make sure that the government is not including anti-white material in training programs for law enforcement officers.
5) The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center, will develop case studies on preoperational indicators, i.e., what are the behaviors of white people that might indicate they are about to commit an act of racist violence.
6) The government will seek to counter racist propaganda by stressing the inclusiveness of American values and our commitment to seeing white people obtain equal access to American democracy, freedoms, and opportunities.
7) The government will support efforts to communicate to the American public that not all white people are extremists and seek to discourage those who would cast suspicion on the entire white community.
I could go on, but you get the point. This is not a one-size-fits-all strategy no matter how much the president wishes it could be. At its heart, the document is condescending to Muslims, who are expected to be grateful for its tactful omissions, while simultaneously implying that homegrown terrorism stems in some quantifiable way from legitimate Muslim grievances rather than the intrusion of an alien ideology. Meanwhile, the power centers in American politics, both left and right, have grown increasingly counterproductive in their attitudes toward Muslim Americans.