The Heritage Foundation has taken legal action against the Biden administration for allegedly withholding answers about an anti-terrorism grant program that funded a group ostensibly hellbent on demonizing conservatives.
The Media Research Center published documents in May
revealing the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program, used by the previous two administrations to combat actual terrorism, has been “revamped under the Biden administration and renamed to provide funding for localities to combat ‘all forms of terrorism and targeted violence.'”
The watchdog report revealed that one grant recipient ran a seminar wherein the Heritage Foundation and other conservative outfits were branded as extremist and depicted as a stepping stones to Neo-Nazism.
The University of Dayton reportedly received $352,109 in fiscal year 2022 to establish the
Preventing Radicalization to Extremist Violence through Education, Network-Building and Training in Southwest Ohio project.
“PREVENT-OH” received the grant after holding a seminar called “Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity,” where
Michael Loadenthal, a University of Cincinnati researcher and self-described Antifa member, shared a chart entitled, “The Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization,” which branded the Christian Broadcasting Network, the GOP, the Tea Party, the National Rifle Association, PragerU, Quillette, Turning Point USA, and other conservative outfits as extremist.
Besides this designation, the chart suggested the logical progression for some persons attracted to these groups would be toward becoming Neo-Nazis.
Extra to the pyramid, the MRC noted that at the seminar
Alexander Hinton, an anthropology professor from Rutgers University, compared former President Donald Trump’s administration to Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, and Nicole Widdersheim suggested that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis might kick off a second Holocaust.
The New York Post
reported that a DHS employee participated in the seminar.
The conservative-bashing seminar was ultimately
referenced in the Dayton researchers’ successful grant proposal for the TVTP.
A spokesman for the DHS told the Post the “seminar was not funded, organized, or hosted by the Department of Homeland Security.”
“Similarly, the presented chart was not developed, presented, or endorsed by the Department of Homeland Security, and was not part of any successful grant application to the Department of Homeland Security,” continued the spokesman. “DHS does not profile, target, or discriminate against any individual for exercising their constitutional rights protected by the First Amendment.”
Dan Schneider, vice president at the MRC, said, “DHS is lying through its teeth once again. … Laughably, the DHS Ohio grantee quickly scrubbed its website following this report, something innocent groups don’t do. But it is too late; we have already copied it. We also have proof that ‘PREVENTS-OH’ actually hosted the conference and that DHS was an active participant, including featuring a senior DHS official at the conference.”
Heritage filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking to compel the DHS to comply with its FOIA requests for all records pertaining to the conservative organization. In its
complaint, Heritage noted it filed a FOIA request seeking what DHS had on it in late May, but despite some back and forth, has yet to receive anything.
The complaint accuses the DHS of two counts of violating FOIA having “repeatedly failed to respond to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request,” suggesting that “[p]laintiffs are thus left with no remedy but this lawsuit to determine if DHS in fact believes Heritage, Fox News, and others to be worthy of being lumped in the same group as Nazis.”
Furthermore, Heritage wants “to determine to what extent Heritage has been targeted by DHS and labeled an ‘extrem[e]’ or ‘radical’ group when it awarded a grant to a program asserting that conservative organizations are the ‘base’ of a pyramid supporting some of the most foul and noxious organizations in the United States.”
Mike Howell, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project,
said in a statement, “We’ve had enough. We’re taking the weaponized Department of Homeland Security to court. They can try explaining to a federal judge why they believe themselves to be above the law and Constitution.”
“It’s a sad day in America when patriotic citizens have to sue their own government for targeting them,” continued Howell. “The subversive element that has taken over the Department of Homeland Security gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to fellow travelers at a university program that labeled us as extremists but illegally refused to comply with the law and turn over documents related to their ridiculous targeting of conservatives.”
MRC indicated that as of May 2023, 80 grants totaling just under $40 million had been awarded under the TVTP program to teach “media literacy and online critical thinking initiatives.”
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