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Title: Right-Wing, Wrong Answers: Legislative Responses to Right-Wing Terrorism in the United States
Authors: Ramadani, Enver
Advisors: Kurtzer, Daniel
Department: Princeton School of Public and International Affairs
Class Year: 2021
Abstract: Right-wing extremist ideology and terrorism have had a place in American history since the inception of the nation. Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the threat of right-wing terrorism has only intensified, usurping Islamic terrorism as the deadliest threat to American national security. The size and capabilities of the American counterterrorism enterprise have similarly grown over the course of the same time period. The difficulty in squaring these two trends can be accounted for by the fact that legislators have not yet figured out how to adequately address right-wing terrorism. This reality begs the question that this thesis aims to examine: what are the factors that have limited Congress’s ability to effectively respond to domestic right-wing terrorism? In my exploration of this question, I evaluate legislative responses to two key instances of right-wing terrorism in the United States: the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and the Charlottesville car attack in 2017. These analyses are informed by an evaluation of the relevant academic literature, news reports, congressional hearings, proposed and passed legislation, and other government documents. Following the findings from both case studies, I argue that Congress has been continually limited in its ability to pursue effective responses to right-wing terrorism by three factors: the incompatibility of traditional counterterrorism frameworks with the demands of domestic counterterrorism, the organizational weakness of the counterterrorism enterprise, and the politicization of right-wing extremist ideology. I conclude this thesis with recommendations for the United States Congress informed by the lessons learned.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2021

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