DHS anti-terror grant fuels anti-white-supremacy program at Missouri State University, citing ‘radicalization’ due to mostly white population

The city of Springfield and the Missouri State University it hosts are so white that a Department of Homeland Security grant was necessary to combat “White Supremacy Extremists” there, according to a student-led project.

“Research has shown that individuals are less tolerant of racial differences and more likely to be radicalized when originating from areas that lack diversity,” says the 2021 grant application from Missouri State University’s “Fuse” program, which includes a podcast on the topic. “Faculty and staff are largely unfamiliar with the radicalization process, risk factors, warning signs, and paths to deradicalization.”

A $645,776 DHS “Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention” grant announced by MSU last year funds the Fuse project, which encourages students “to engage in meaningful conversations on difficult topics and form connections with peers.” The grant continues the Fuse program started a year prior as part of a student marketing competition.

The grant application argues that MSU is a “Primarily White Institution (PWI)” with an undergraduate enrollment that is 81.4% white, and that Springfield is 87% white – and seems to posit that, therefore, they are ripe for white supremacy and the radicalization of white students.

“A consistently significant portion of these students come from surrounding rural areas that are similarly mono-cultural,” the application says.

The white majority at MSU and in Springfield, the application seems to say, is enough to justify a Department of Homeland Security anti-terrorism grant.

The wider public might not know about the Fuse program were it not for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s official request to know more about it. Schmitt earlier this year filed a lawsuit over alleged collusion between the Biden administration and social media companies, and wants to know if censorship is also at play in the MSU program.

A Fuse podcast in April 2021 was titled “Misinformation, Conspiracies and Digital Literacy.” A guest on the podcast talks about the problem of “people who are uncomfortable” with societal changes falling for online misinformation – confirming their existing beliefs, “whatever prejudiced or potentially racist beliefs those might be.”

“We were certainly surprised to see that DHS gave a Missouri university a grant that also apparently sought to censor ‘misinformation,’ similar to what the federal government is allegedly doing with social media companies,” AG spokesperson Chris Nuelle told a Springfield media outlet.

The Fuse program, the grant says, uses a “train the trainer model to educate individuals on the radicalization process, risk factors, and warning signs while enhancing digital literacy to counter online White Supremacy Extremist (WSE) narratives.”

In its narrative to obtain the DHS grant, the Fuse application relied on “hate group” statistics from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which surmised the presence of 24 statewide hate groups in Missouri, six of them being “white nationalist.”

“As radicalization continues to spread hate-based ideologies across the country, individuals in Missouri have been impacted,” the application says.

The grant application doesn’t explain what that impact is, merely adding that, “In the local Springfield community, lack of diversity, mixed with radicalization could be a combination for dangerous territory” – appearing to equate a largely white enclave with a susceptibility to white supremacy and radicalization.

Springfield’s mere whiteness, the application argues, “shows a desperate need for community engagement with activities that protect against radicalization to violence.”

The SPLC – upon which the MSU application relies for justifying the grant to combat white supremacy – appears to have a history of creating its own hate: In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C., with plans for what became an averted mass shooting – and later told the FBI he was inspired to do so by the FRC’s status as a “hate group” on the SPLC website.

Corkins planned to kill multiple people and then smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches on them, owing to the restaurant chain’s published views on traditional marriage.

“FRC is among many Christian organizations targeted by the SPLC for pro-family stances,” the Washington Times writes, noting that a number of law-abiding conservative entities have lost funding and support from the SPLC’s subjective labeling.

In 2019, the SPLC was rocked by its own internal “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism” that employees said threatened the organization’s moral authority and integrity. Its co-founder was fired, and its longtime president resigned.

Nonetheless, DHS approved the $645,776 grant for MSU’s Fuse program based in part on the SPLC’s unsubstantiated and possibly unverifiable allegations.

“We are grateful to receive funding at such a high level to be shared by the Reynolds College of Arts and Letters, International Programs and Center for Community Engagement,” MSU assistant professor of communication Dr. Stephen Spates said in a statement heralding the grant, which he helped students apply for. “This will provide us the resources we need to continue fostering opportunities for healthy conversations in the local community.”

But is it really a healthy conversation? The grant application specifically ties “the lack of diversity at Missouri State University and in Springfield, Missouri” to “the need for education and awareness of risk factors to radicalization, and the importance of enhancing digital literacy to counter [White Supremacy Extremist] narratives.”

Asked if the grant application implies that largely white cities or campuses are inherently problematic and ripe for “radicalization,” an MSU spokesperson says absolutely not.

“The grant application does not imply that our city or campus are ‘inherently problematic’ nor ‘ripe for radicalization’,” Samantha Francka, coordinator of marketing and communications wrote in an email to The Heartlander. “It does provide basic demographic data of our community. This is not the view of MSU nor Fuse, and any interpretation of the grant application that implies such is incorrect.”

On whether the podcast guest’s generalizations were fair about people confirming their “prejudiced or potentially racist beliefs” online, Francka said, “I think it’s a fair and accurate generalization to say that people enjoy hearing perspectives that confirm our existing beliefs – no one wants to be told they’re wrong and it feels great to hear that others have similar views, regardless of what those views may be.”

Asked to cite examples of white supremacy extremism in Springfield or at MSU, Francka said the grant is issued through the DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, and that Fuse “is a prevention-focused program.”

The Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, she said, uses “a public health approach to prevent targeted violence and extremism.”

As for Spates’ contention that Fuse fosters “opportunities for healthy conversations in the local community,” The Heartlander asked Francka whether it’s healthy to brand a community or campus too white and therefore ripe for radicalization.

“I believe the content of the Fuse program encourages healthy conversations within our community and allows participants to make positive connections with classmates, peers, and colleagues through our workshops, podcasts, and my personal favorite aspect, the Fuse card game,” she wrote. “This conversation-based game encourages players to share their personal experiences to make connections and work through conversations that can be tough to approach otherwise.”

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