House Hearing on White Nationalism Missed the Boat on Christian Nationalism

Since taking over the House, Democrats have rightfully begun to focus on the rise of hate crimes during the Trump era (and white backlash to the Obama presidency).

However, Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearingwhich erupted into a clownshow and featured some not-so-expert witnesses called by Republicansalso missed a key opportunity to interrogate white nationalism’s overlooked twin: Christian nationalism.

Indeed, as I’ve written, white Christian nationalism must be looked atand addressedas a whole in order for the West to stem hate crimes and terror attacks. Just as national security experts have tied Islamism and the rise of “lone wolf” jihadis to factors such as fear, grievance, and a sense of belonging to an ideology, white Christian nationalism must be similarly interrogated.

As the Hindu American Foundation and other groups noted this week in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, the federal government cannot attack the scourge of hate without understanding the role Christian supremacy plays in white nationalism behavior.

“It is important for lawmakers to examine how these ideologies feed off of each other, and inspire intolerance and acts of aggression towards religious and racial minorities in our country,” wrote Jay Kansara, HAF’s director of government relations. HAF was responding to a January hate crime in Kentucky, in which a 17-year-old broke into a Hindu temple, defaced the shrine, and spray painted “Jesus is the only Lord.”

Ironically, neither the larger issue of Christian nationalism nor the Kentucky incident was raised by the committee’s lone Hindu member, Pramila Jayapal, during the hearing.

The House Judiciary Committee has an opportunity to reverse the past 8 years of GOP-led obliviousness on the ties between white nationalism and Christian supremacy. The Democratic-led House cannot let another opportunity go to waste. It’s not just politics; if we fail to understand and acknowledge the underlying ideology we will be ill-prepared for and ill-equipped to deal with the next terror attack committed by a white Christian nationalist.