The Department of Justice has come under fire for circulating a memo that suggested parents could be considered domestic terrorists for exercising their constitutionally protected right to protest against the decisions of local school boards.
Now, unearthed internal documents from the FBI indicate that federal authorities are using otherwise innocuous terms and phrases used extensively online to determine whether a person might be a violent extremist.
According to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, the bureau has been monitoring certain words in hopes of finding individuals involved in “involuntary celebate violent extremism” as well as “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism.”
As for the first category, the FBI reportedly believes that individuals commonly referred to as “incels” — short for “involuntarily celebate” — could be using certain slang terms to signal a desire to “commit violence in support of their beliefs that society unjustly denies them sexual or romantic attention, to which they believe they are entitled.”
Of course, many of the terms listed under the agency’s “threat overview” are frequently used by online commentators of various backgrounds.
— Oversight Project (@OversightPR) April 3, 2023
The internal documents acknowledge that “most incels do not engage in violence,” but cited “at least five lethal attacks” in the U.S. and Canada by individuals identified as incels.
FBI documents also include several other phrases that could land users on a list of potential extremists with racist motivations.
Using “red pill,” which dates back to an option presented in the 1999 film “The Matrix” to allow a person to see the truth, is seen by the FBI as evidence of “a belief … that society is corrupt, and that the believer is a victim of this corruption.”
Furthermore, the bureau asserts that “taking the red pill or becoming ‘red-pilled’ indicates the adoption of racist, anti-Semitic, or fascist beliefs.”
Another common term included in the list is “based,” which the FBI defines as a way to “refer to someone who has been converted to racist ideology, or as a way of indicating ideological agreement.”
“This is all part and parcel of what we have seen over the past several years, of weaponizing government to attack the First Amendment,” said former Assistant Treasury Secretary Monica Crowley.