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GARFIELD – How do you stop domestic terrorism caused by white supremacy? There really isn’t an easy answer to that, but the topic brought Gov. Phil Murphy, Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr, and Jeh Johnson, the former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, together Tuesday for a panel discussion in the local VFW hall.
About 100 or so people attended, including a number of local officials.
This may not be a political topic in itself, but politics is not something you can avoid these days.
As he has done previously, Murphy spoke of those on the fringes receiving – at least indirectly – a “permission slip from the top.”
Murphy’s obvious reference to President Trump is something he’s done before. He is not alone.
Many critics of the president seize on his comments after a 2017 march by white supremacists in Virginia that there were “good people” on both sides.
Johnson, who held his post in the Obama administration, refrained from overly-partisan comments. He said that the government’s focus has changed – or at least should change – to concentrating on domestic, home-grown terrorism as opposed to foreign terrorism.
That’s no easy chore. Johnson acknowledged that domestic terrorism is harder to stop.
Pascrell said the public must help. Reminding the crowd of an attack last year on a synagogue in Pittsburgh and this year’s immigrant-targeted shooting in El Paso, Texas, the congressman said the public must do what it can to keep authorities abreast of distressed people capable of violence
On a different topic, Pascrell said before the session that there finally is some hope in the House for a compromise on the $10,000 deduction camp for state and local taxes. He said the tentative plan would gradually lift the camp over two or three years, but not eliminate it. All New Jersey representatives in Congress, including Chris Smith, the lone Republican, support doing away or raising the $10,000 so-called SALT cap on federal income tax deductions.
Of course, whatever happens in the House has to pass the Senate, a questionable premise to be sure.
“They’re inept,” Pascrell said, adding that he can’t do much about that.