PHOENIX — The US Department of Homeland Security wants Americans to be on alert for a potential attack.
DHS reissued this bulletin on Wednesday, warning the United States remains in a "heightened threat environment."
According to the release, DHS says bad actors could use events like the certifications related to the midterm elections, the holiday season, associated large gatherings, and the marking of two years since the breach of the U.S. Capitol, as an excuse to commit violence.
DHS says the potential targeted groups include "public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQ+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents."
“They don’t issue the bulletins willy-nilly,” Ehsan Zaffar, Chief Difference Engineer at Arizona State University and a former senior civil rights advisor at DHS, said.
“You are trying to solve a disease, but you only have the tools to cure the symptoms,” Zaffar said.
But how do you get at the underlying disease when they can be so varied?
Zaffar mentioned that financial inequality, living conditions, and national populism are all factors that can be part of the underlying problem.
“It’s disinformation that is making people feel they are victimized,” Lee Boubot, an Arizona State University professor, said.
He says that once people have someone to blame for their problems, that can lead to radicalization.
“Once a group is vilified enough, they become under threat,” Boubot said.
So how do we fix the problems?
“I wish I knew the answer,” Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said.
“People aren’t speaking anymore. They aren’t talking to you, standing up, or banging on the table. Instead, they are beating you up and hitting you with clubs and shooting you."
It does not have to be this way. For example, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, helped establish a legacy of civil discourse.
Sarah Suggs leads the O’Connor Institute and says we need more of that.
“I think fundamentally we want a better country, but we are not acting like it,” Suggs said
However, there are no easy solutions here. Experts say it will take a comprehensive approach to fix the underlying issues.
“Left unchecked, it is a fundamental threat," Zaffar said
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