Do you oppose mask and vaccine mandates?
Do you have any lingering questions about the integrity of the 2020 election?
Are you concerned that Afghan refugees who are being relocated to communities across America may not have been screened thoroughly?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, the Biden administration thinks you may be a “domestic violent extremist.”
On Feb. 7, 2022, Biden’s Department of Homeland Security issued a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” warning of a “heightened threat environment.” The DHS message sensibly contained alerts about foreign terrorists who may act alone or in cells to attack large gatherings, which are becoming more commonplace as COVID-19 restrictions loosen in some states. It noted the January assault on the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, as an example of an attack motivated by religious animosity that supporters of foreign terrorist organizations may seek to emulate.
Those are legitimate concerns and worthy of noting. But the bulletin also ominously cautioned that “threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence.”
Among the topics cited as methods to “exacerbate societal friction” were COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates, questions about election integrity, and the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan nationals. So, the message from the Biden administration is that if you have the “wrong” opinions on these issues, you might be a terrorist.
This follows the October 2021 memorandum from Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, which characterized parents upset with their local school boards as terrorist threats. So, this recent DHS bulletin isn’t a one-off kind of thing — the Biden administration views those who disagree with them as genuinely dangerous.
Based on these criteria, Biden must see a whole lot of suspected terrorists in Pennsylvania.
Parents have been frustrated that their children have been forced to wear masks in school all day long, and they sometimes take their complaints to the school board, as they should. (It should be noted that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who will be the Democratic candidate for governor, went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to keep the school mask mandate in place.)
Millions of Pennsylvanians still have problems with how the 2020 election was conducted and have serious questions about the security of our elections moving forward.
Heck, even Biden himself cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 elections to come. Does that put him on a terrorist watch list?
And many of our citizens are concerned that Afghan nationals have been relocated to our communities, so I raised the question of whether they could possibly have undergone the proper screening required to determine exactly who they are. Am I a terrorist now as well?
These are all legitimate disagreements with or questions about policies issued by our government — expressions of free speech protected under the First Amendment.
We should not tolerate threats of violence, intimidation, or harassment. But what the Biden administration is doing goes well beyond vigilance against those problems. They are seeking to categorize their political opponents as potentially violent criminals.
It’s not America if you can’t express your opposition to government policies. But this is the administration that Gov. Tom Wolf and Shapiro align themselves with. They stifle dissent and want to criminalize political discourse. It’s disgusting, and Pennsylvanians won’t stand for it.
Weaponizing the federal government to attack those with different political beliefs is fundamentally un-American — a tactic seen only in totalitarian regimes like Communist China. Never in a million years did I think we would adopt these communist practices here in America. What is happening to our country?
As someone who wants to be the next governor, Shapiro needs to quit playing partisan politics and stand up to his own party when it egregiously oversteps its bounds like it is doing today. This is wrong and should not be accepted as the new normal.
When I’m the governor of Pennsylvania, we will restore the freedoms our residents are born with. People want to return to normal life, and telling everyone to shut up or be called a terrorist is not the way to get there.
Former Mayor and Rep. Lou Barletta is a Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.