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University program linking Christians, Republicans to Nazis granted DHS funds under 'anti-terror' initiative

FIRST ON FOX: The Biden administration is doling out taxpayer money through an anti-terrorism grant initiative to a university program that has explicitly lumped the Republican Party, as well as Christian and conservative groups, into the same category as Nazis, according to documents shared exclusively with Fox News Digital.

The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, obtained documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests showing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program meant to fight terrorism is funding a group whose work has explicitly targeted the American political right. The MRC outlined its findings in a report, arguing what the group found warrants criminal prosecution.

“This terrorism task force is engaged in an active effort to demonize and eliminate Christian, conservative, and Republican organizations using federal taxpayer dollars,” said Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center. “What we have uncovered calls for criminal prosecution. The American people need to know those who are abusing their positions in the federal government will be held accountable for their criminal behavior.”

DHS funded a university program that has explicitly lumped in Republican and conservative groups with Nazis. (Getty Images/AP)

DHS’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program (TVTP) provides funds to various public, private, and non-profit institutions — such as universities and county governments — “to establish or enhance capabilities to prevent targeted violence and terrorism.” Grant applicants must be based in the U.S. and implement a U.S.-based program.

One such grantee was the University of Dayton for its PREVENTS-OH program, which DHS awarded $352,109 to “draw on the expertise of the University of Dayton faculty” to fight “domestic violence extremism and hate movements.”

The university’s grant application submitted to DHS linked in a footnote to a controversial Dayton conference where an academic researcher presented a chart titled the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization.”

The "Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization," as presented at the University of Dayton's "Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity" seminar in 2021.

The “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization,” as presented at the University of Dayton’s “Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity” seminar in 2021. (Screeshot from University of Dayton YouTube channel)

Among the organizations and movements displayed on the pyramid were the Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation, the American Conservative Union, Fox News, Breitbart News, the National Rifle Association, PragerUniversity, Tea Party Patriots, the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement, the pro-police Blue Lives Matter movement, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The University of Dayton pointed readers to video of a 2021 conference where the "Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization" was presented.

The University of Dayton pointed readers to video of a 2021 conference where the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization” was presented. See the highlighted parts. (Screenshot of University of Dayton grant proposal)

One speaker at the conference, University of Cincinnati researcher Michael Loadenthal, presented the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization,” portraying it as an accurate depiction of the “modern far-right” and extremism in America.

According to Loadenthal, the MRC is “misinterpreting and misrepresenting” the diagram as well as his role with it. He sent Fox News Digital a full copy of the image, which included text underneath the pyramid describing the bottom tier with the GOP, the NRA, and the Heritage Foundation as “mainstream conservatism.”

“The chart is meant to show that what is termed ‘the right’ is not monolithic and that some individuals travel to a path of radicalization, beginning with more mainstream sources,” said Loadenthal. “This point is not controversial nor is it deterministic; it is NOT meant to imply that engaging with level 1 inherently leads to level 4. That would obviously be false.”

Full, original image of the "Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization."

Full, original image of the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization.” (Image provided by Michael Loadenthal)

The MRC report noted that at the same seminar, another speaker, Alexander Hinton, a member of the Rutgers University faculty who specializes in genocide, compared the Trump administration to the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia killed an estimated 1.5 million-2 million people from 1975-79.

A third speaker — Nicole Widdersheim, deputy Washington director for Human Rights Watch and former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Center — compared Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposing a volunteer civilian military force to assist the National Guard in emergencies such as hurricanes to the Nazis’ Holocaust during World War II.

A DHS official — Joseph Masztalics, a regional prevention coordinator at the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, of which TVTP is a part — was another speaker and appeared virtually in his official capacity at the event to deliver a short presentation about the center’s mission and resources.

The University of Dayton similarly described the seminar as being separate from the PREVENTS-OH program.

“The speakers at the programs referred to in the Media Research Center’s report are from the University of Dayton Human Rights Center’s Social Practice of Human Rights Conference in the fall of 2021, which had no affiliation with and predates PREVENTS-OH,” the university told Fox News Digital in a statement. “The University of Dayton Human Rights Center received its PREVENTS-OH grant in the fall of 2022 and, to date, its community awareness events and dialogues have focused on all forms of domestic terrorism, targeted violence, and extremism. As we stated when awarded the grant, ‘We look forward to partnering with Ohioans throughout the Miami Valley across all political and social affiliations and sectors of the community.'”

The school did not note its inclusion of the seminar in its grant application.

“To deny people that, to shut down their websites, to close their meetings, [and] to physically prevent them from assembling in public — this is the belief,” he said, also displaying an infographic of how “antifascists” can “infiltrate,” “surveil,” and “disrupt” far-right forces.

Infographic presented by University of Cincinnati researcher Michael Loadenthal at University of Dayton seminar titled "White Nationalism Workshop."

Infographic presented by University of Cincinnati researcher Michael Loadenthal at University of Dayton seminar titled “White Nationalism Workshop.” (Screenshot from University of Dayton’s YouTube channel)

Loadenthal additionally noted that in his “younger years,” he engaged in “direct confrontation” with alleged white supremacists, seemingly describing himself as a member of Antifa.

“We organized largely through networks — today people would call Antifa, at the time it was known as anti-racist action — to follow white supremacists where they go, to outnumber them, and then to physically confront them and deny them the space to physically meet in public,” he said. “This is the idea of de-platforming. I worked in that realm for a long time.”

The MRC described its findings in a new letter sent to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of both the House Judiciary Committee and the newly established Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The letter from Bozell called for an investigation and “criminal prosecution” while asking to meet with Jordan to discuss the DHS documents. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, presides over a hearing of the Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Feb. 9, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, presides over a hearing of the Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Feb. 9, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“The Media Research Center has uncovered disturbing documentation that proves that the government is colluding with left-wing activists, academics, and state and local officials in an active effort to target some of the most prestigious conservatives and prominent political, religious, and media groups in the country, linking them directly to Nazis and terrorists,” the letter states. “The American people need to know that those who are abusing their positions in the federal government will be held accountable for this criminal behavior.”

The first version of the TVTP was created by the Obama administration, which in 2011 unveiled a plan titled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” to give taxpayer-funded grants to local groups — including police departments, universities, and non-profits — to prevent domestic “violent extremism.” The first grants weren’t rolled out until 2016 in the “Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program.”

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Oct. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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According to the MRC, DHS has resisted producing documents pursuant to its FOIA requests to date, but the watchdog has acquired numerous documents directly from DHS grant recipients and other related organizations.

TVTP was very much on the radar of DHS leadership. Indeed, Mayorkas called the program a “high priority” in a document obtained by the MRC.

“On the heels of the Durham report, we now have evidence that the Biden administration is ratcheting up its anti-American targeting of Christians, conservatives and Republicans. This is abhorrent and criminal,” said MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider. “We call on federal prosecutors to hold violators accountable under our civil rights laws, 18 USC Section 241 and 18 USC Section 242 accountable.” 

Last week, Special Counsel John Durham released a final report on his investigation into the original probe concerning whether former President Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Durham found that there was never any information to justify opening the FBI’s investigation and that the bureau and the Department of Justice “failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law.”

Brent Bozell

MRC founder and president Brent Bozell (Media Research Center)

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“This report only scratches the surface of the Biden DHS’s nefarious TVTP grant program,” the document states. “MRC Free Speech America has obtained more documents from other DHS grantees and other organizations through our concentrated FOIA initiative and will be presenting further evidence of the Biden administration’s efforts to target conservatives, Christians, and the Republican Party going forward.”

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