In the last days of the Obama presidency, the Department of Homeland Security awarded a $400,000 grant to Life After Hate, a nonprofit dedicated to helping right-wing extremists move away from radical ideas. Five months later, the organization learned that the Trump administration had rescinded its funding. In light of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this decision appears tragically shortsighted. It also underlines the indifference of President Donald Trump and his administration toward the problem of far-right violence.

Life After Hate’s grant was part of a program on “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE — an effort to combat terrorism by building community partnerships to help at-risk youths move away from radical ideas. The department has now pulled funding from both Life After Hate and a project by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to counter propaganda from both militant Islamists and the far right.

The reallocation of grant funding away from organizations countering far-right violence suggests that the White House is making good on its intention to focus CVE only on Muslims. And the absence of any CVE funding in the administration’s proposed 2018 budget, along with the recent resignation of George Selim, the widely respected official heading the CVE task force, raises questions about the administration’s seriousness in taking on even that limited task.

The murder of Heather Heyer, who was mowed down in the aftermath of the far-right gathering in Charlottesville, was a brutal reminder that militant Islamists are not the only violent group in the United States. A recent report by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security emphasized that white-supremacist organizations were responsible for more homicides between 2000 and 2016 than “any other domestic extremist movement.”

CVE is far from perfect. And even under President Barack Obama, it gave little attention beyond lip service to countering ideologies other than militant Islamism. But the choice to exclude the far right from CVE, together with Trump’s reluctance to condemn white supremacy following Heyer’s death, makes a powerful statement about which violence this administration finds worthy of attention and condemnation and which violence it does not.

Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., along with 23 other senators, has requested information from Homeland Security on its handling of the grant program and its monitoring of far-right violence. Members of the House have made similar calls for both data and hearings on the matter. The department should provide the information they ask for — and the legislative branch should continue to pursue strong oversight of this issue in the absence of moral leadership from the president.

Editorial by The Washington Post

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