Charlottesville was Terrorism: Hard Data on Threat Levels from Ideological Hate
Statistically, Perhaps We Shouldn’t Be So Worried about White Supremacy
What happened in Charlottesville August 12 when a white supremacist purposely drove over protesters, killing one, was an act of ideological terrorism. Republican right-wing senators like Ted Cruz, key members of The White House, and the U.S. Department of Justice concur it’s domestic terrorism. President Donald Trump once again showed his true colors by not immediately denouncing white nationalists and supremacists, finally bowing to public pressure two days later and making a teleprompter statement that the KKK and racist hate groups are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
This had been going on this past year or two (cough, Trump), but this past weekend I once again found far too many posts, articles and Tweets that are completely disingenuous by placing the domestic terrorism problem more heavily on right-wing ideology. They dishonestly leave out the murder total. They will say there were 62 attacks committee by right-wing extremists compared to jihadists’ meager total of 23 since 9/11, and get nearly 30,000 shares of that misleading fact. Knowledge gatekeepers flub on MSNBC using that same source information and confuse total deaths with total incidents as high-paid pundits incorrectly nod their heads in agreement. I have intelligent well-informed friends saying there’s 10 times more right-wing terrorism attacks than jihadist. Social networks are exploding about this “white”-wing Nazi reign of terror.
Surprise, I buried the lead: Jihadists have killed more people than right-wing extremists since 9/11. You can drop the ideological axe-grinding now.
Even expert-led stories with nuance these past 48 hours, including an interview PBS did with Peter Bergen — Vice President and Director of New America’s International Security, Future of War, and Fellows Programs who led the New America analysis on terrorism threats since 9/11 — tend to equalize the danger between right-wing and Islamic extremists. This approach I simultaneously, and paradoxically, understand and question. I understand because despite what left-leaning propaganda tells you about right-wing terror, along with a slew of mainstream news stories the last couple years, the mortal threat on U.S. soil between both extremist categories is mostly equivalent the past 15 years. The average chance of being killed by either ideological menace is incredibly small, totaling around 10 deaths out of 16,000 total homicides annually, with jihadist motivations responsible for just about 60% of those fatalities. The major blind-spot my fellow liberals have and that I question is this point: The rate of Islamic extremist (jihadist) murder is anywhere from 40 to 100 times higher than far-right-extremism when contextualizing for demographics, which even Snopes doesn’t mention. Frankly, few news sources do. It’s easy to understand why. No one wants accusations of racism or fomenting hatred, even if reporting facts and context. This is a false dichotomy.
There’s around 100 million conservative right-wing Americans — and even more white Christians — who have a subset of loonies willing to commit terror-based violence in their midst compared to the 3.3 million Muslims with the same. Yes, more than half of the domestic deaths from terrorism the past 15 years are done in the name of a religious theology represented by 1% of the population. Worth noting, despite Trump’s call for a travel ban from six Muslim countries, terrorism in the United States is mostly homegrown. The ideas are imported, but the radicalization happened in San Bernardino, California, or while working for the U.S. military in Texas.
Also, when looking at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) list of extremist acts that result in fatalities that is widely cited in the past 48 hours, including the aforementioned Tweets and misleading MSNBC commentary, many are hate crime acts (which can concurrently be considered terrorism) by lone wolf perpetrators without directives from the outside. Most are simply not planned in advance. Few seem to be targeting their victims because of their race. Unlike ISIS, the right-wing and neo-Nazi hate-filled websites and chat rooms don’t officially state, “Go out and kill our enemies.” Perhaps they’re too smart to lay it out explicitly; but not smart enough to avoid posting derogatory statements about the deceased in Charlottesville as Daily Stormer did. (GoDaddy, their service provider, and supposedly the hacker collective Anonymous fought back against the alt-right hate.)
Regardless, ideology certainly makes bigots view others as subhuman, leading to 8 hate crime murders per year, 2003–2015. However, if you look at any list of thwarted attacks since 9/11 — of which there have been dozens of major ones — you won’t see a significant number of white nationalists on the list. Fortunately, or unfortunately, in the years since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, right-wing hatred is a continuous but isolated, low-level, small-scale threat based on the available evidence. Despite the media hyper-attention to hate crimes and right-wing extremism, it’s even questionable that there is a significant uptick of violent attacks from them — and even so, it’s unlikely to reach the significantly higher levels found in the 1990s. Which even then, pale compared to other parts of the world or moments in history.
My full statistical and evidence-based defense of the above statements is below. This is in no way meant to defend neo-Nazis or hateful mindsets during this traumatic time for the country. Many say supporting racists’ freedom of speech, like the ACLU in 1977 and 2017, means you condone or directly support their backwards and illegitimate cause. Voltaire is as forgotten as 8th grade trigonometry. This is an ideologically challenging, illiberal, and simplistic political argument meant to cow and cut-off honest debate through subterfuge and shame. I will remind people that it was also a trying period one year ago, which I wrote about, when five police were killed in Dallas by a man inspired by Black Lives Matter rhetoric and what he saw in the news the week Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police. The culpability of BLM and the media was categorically and hypocritically denied and under-explored. (Besides the fact they’re completely wrong about police killings being racially discriminatory.)
Even when a left-wing crazy shooter attacked Republican congressmen on a baseball field in June 2017, many on the left say, “Stop Blaming Bernie Sanders” and will distance themselves from the act. They will say the suspect being a Bernie Sanders volunteer and supporter has nothing to do with him spraying bullets specifically targeting Republicans. They deflect and criticize others for politicizing the tragedy when anyone dares place blame on far-left rhetoric, despite the fact the gunman asked specifically if the baseball players were Democrats or Republicans before starting the potential massacre and belonged to Facebook groups named “Terminate the Republican Party,” “The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans,” and “Donald Trump is not my President.” They will ignore the fact that a Newsweek headline one month before the Republican Minority Whip was left bullet-ridden in the outfield blared the following in all caps: “BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATS: REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE BILL WILL KILL PEOPLE.” At least Bernie Sanders rightly and immediately condemned the shooter and violence.
But politicizing extreme acts of violence is what nearly all sides do. And both sides of the political coin hypocritically will do the same directly after wagging their fingers at their political opponents.
Are Democrats as as intellectually consistent when a right-wing crazy man stabs three people on a Portland train after yelling at two teenage girls with an anti-Muslim tirade? No, they jump right in. U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) blames the rhetoric of the far right and claims the Portland shootings are their logical end point. “A message of hate leads to violence and violence leads to tragedy,” said Merkley. As much as people wanted to pin his killings on the alt-right and Trump’s supposed Islamophobic positions and words, the violent and deranged killer was actually a Bernie Sanders voter who loathed Trump and was more-than-a-little pissed off about the extreme left hindering free speech as of late. He also hated circumcision with a passion.
My point is simple: Hypocrisy and catastrophizing situations become the new norm.
Should minorities worry for their safety? I can’t say. We make our own choices and opinions. What to make of this moment in history? KKK membership had dwindled to 3,000 current members according to the Anti-Defamation League, down from the height of 2 to 5 million Klan members in the 1920s. Hate crime murder represents under one-twentieth of 1% of all murders according to rhe U.S. government. 12% of white homicides are committed by police, but 4% of black homicides are at the hands of cops. Unlike the headlines that oppress us with fear, I want to avoid the sensational. And stick to reality. Here we go …
GAO Terrorism Statistics
Yes, there are 62 far-right-wing incidents to 23 jihadist incidents, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. A far more relevant fact omitted in this Tweet and elsewhere is that there are 119 jihadist deaths compared to 106 right-wing deaths in the 15 years after the September 11 attacks.
But what if there were vastly more right-wing deaths? Would that be widely spread in the mainstream media? Of course that fact would the first Tweet or the lead paragraph. I’ll get to this double-standard below in the section titled, “Disingenuous, Statistical Cherry-Picking by Mainstream Media.” There I go into depth about how the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has become the “go to” source for the media to exaggerate the ominous right-wing threat by saying 372 deaths come from the hands of right-wing extremists. In a nutshell: Most of them don’t come from ideological hate; ADL just stuffs their dataset with killings from people that happen to have far right-wing ties.
But first let’s get a second source that corroborates GAO data.
New America Foundation Terrorism Statistics
What do other sources say for the same 15-year period since non-resident foreign terrorists killed 2,974 victims on 9/11? Indeed, experts debate on what the threshold is to count each incident as terrorism, and attributable to which ideology. Still, I found the numbers from the two reputable sources, GAO and New America, to be in similar ballparks.
According to the widely used non-partisan New America Foundation analysis, which is updated regularly, there have been:
- 95 jihadist terror killings since 9/11 (includes Orlando nightclub shooting)
- 68 right-wing (mostly white) terror killings since 9/11 (includes Charleston church shooting and last Saturday's Charlottesville vehicular attack)
- 8 black separatist (formerly “left-wing”) terror killings since 9/11 (includes Dallas police sniper shooting)
From these population pools, extremists spring forth willing to kill because of hate. The first two bullets below one could argue make up the “right-wing” group, and the last bullet would indicate the “jihadist” group. Trump partisans could also overlap with the first two groups, and hate crimes are often pinned on Trump voters and the alt-right.
- There are about 50% of Americans who are white and Christian
- There are about 35% of Americans who are right-wing/conservative
- 1% of Americans are Muslim
SOURCE (35% of Americans consider themselves “Conservative”): http://www.gallup.com/poll/201152/conservative-liberal-gap-continues-narrow-tuesday.aspx
SOURCE (46% of Americans are white and Christian):
SOURCE (1% of the American population are Muslim):
From here, we could deduce that as a threat proportional to their population base, and applied against the GAO data, Muslim per capita output of death-by-terrorism is 40–55 times greater than right-wing conservative/white Christians. (GAO estimates about 10% more deaths by Islamic extremism than by far-right extremism.)
When there’s double the the number of terror attack deaths by Islamic extremists, as has been the case earlier in the year with the New America data, the difference is a factor of nearly 100. (What I noticed with curiosity is the right-wing New America total has spiked up from 51 to 68 the past three months, to more than two-thirds of the jihadist total. Not long ago it was half. There’s only a few incidents that are new. Most additions come from recategorizing and including homicides that are many years older. The chart is like a living organism that I’ve checked on regularly for cancerous cell growth the past two years.)
Anyway, you see why this is a needle-in-a-haystack security conundrum. Though, some needles stick innocents more often than others.
It’s also why playing up xenophobia is a political tactic that works because conservatives aren’t entirely naive. Muslims in France, for instance, are a 7–9 times larger percentage of the population than in the United States. They also have vastly more terrorism. Islamic extremist attacks in France the past two years alone killed 17 in Paris (Charlie Hebdo attack), 86 in Nice (Bastille Day vehicle ramming) and 130 in Paris (largest terror attack in French history), far surprising USA’s 15-year total. France’s 66 million people is less than one-quarter their old Revolutionary War allies’ population. There’s a reason why there’s many times more terrorism fatalities per capita in Europe than the United States, and even more in Muslim-majority countries against Muslims. Of course, stating that fact or the ideology behind it will lead to Ben Affleck calling you a racist.
Side note: I would never call for limiting immigration from any country. I’m against reactionary movements like Brexit. Watch Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and you can see the white European melting pot has had a bloody history. But few can question that integration in Western nations of Muslims in recent decades has had rough patches, to say it kindly, that fester disproportional terror-based death. Again, if the death count “contest” the media plays means anything, we should know half of it emanates from a very small hate-filled pocket of a tiny 1% of the U.S. population, which is growing (we’ll likely be 2% Muslim by 2050). The other half comes from a very small hate-filled pocket of a large (almost entirely white) percentage of our population, which isn’t growing (we’ll likely be 49.9% white by 2045). Future flesh-and-bone-destroying catastrophes are subject to change; maybe we can pray for collective enlightenment. My opinion is all this hyper-focus on terrorism and identity politics emboldens hate on all sides — one only has to see the large body count increases the past few years of Obama’s presidency, which parallels growth in divisive mainstream media rhetoric, social justice movements, and 4chan and other far-right subculture extremist activity. The rise of ISIS and their public calls for lone-wolf killers is also a factor. But ideological- inspired deaths are quite minuscule compared to the nearly 19,000 homicides I estimated we likely jumped up to in 2016. Violent crime is the problem, not terrorism. It’s gun violence in general that’s uniquely American.
Disingenuous, Statistical Cherry-Picking by Mainstream Media
When the number of right-wing killings was HIGHER before the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016 flipped the narrative, articles in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time magazine wrote high-profile articles using the ubiquitous New America study to say right-wing extremism is responsible for more death. Those articles are still shared widely, implying a threat from right-wing factions are far more lethal to Americans, without mentioning the population differences (Muslims are a very small percentage of residents in the United States), or the fact the “total killed” for each category obviously fluctuates. None will say that together all ideological killings combine for about 10–15 homicides a year out of 16,000. (Precisely 15,872 homicides based on 2014 CDC data, which needs updating.) These three leading media outlets simply sensationalized with these headlines:
- Time used New America as a source June 24, 2015: “Study Says White Extremists Have Killed More Americans in the U.S. Than Jihadists Since 9/11”
- New York Times mirroring the New America data June 24, 2015: “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11”
- Newsweek also boldly stated this 2/14/16: “RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS ARE A BIGGER THREAT TO AMERICA THAN ISIS”
The last story obviously didn’t consider the vastly one-sided number of jihadist terror plots foiled and the 300 mostly homegrown jihadist cases documented the past 15 years. Those are a “THREAT TO AMERICA,” too.
What you didn’t see after the ISIS-inspired Orlando nightclub shooting was The New York Times write a follow-up story with the updated New America sourcing saying, “Study Says Jihadists Have Killed More Americans in the U.S. Than Homegrown Extremists Since 9/11.” No media outlets that I know about did, and the myth persisted. Today, you hardly see New America data in news stories. One doesn’t need an advanced degree to understand why.
Currently, jihadism is “ahead” in this macabre terrorism horse race where ideologies try to “scare” Americans. Fact: Terrorism since 9/11 has killed 10 times less people than bee stings. Another fact: Refugee terrorism is practically non-existent (so far). To be transparent, one simply has to mention this additional fact: U.S. law enforcement has foiled dozens of terror plots by jihadists with a numerical body count far higher than right-wing hate-mongers with twisted ideas can imagine (so far).
An argument can be made that we spend tax dollars inefficiently to combat terrorism. But there’s little doubt where the threat lies. Most of the FBI cases are jihadist. The Atlantic stated that since 2013, there have been 90 FBI terrorism charges with zero culprits escaping with an entrapment defense. We’re talking bombings that would decimate large crowds of people with a van of explosives, like a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in my native Portland, Oregon. They also reported that the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces have stopped between three and five dozen plots since 9/11.
It’s clearly a double-standard when the media promotes a narrative when the “hot” data (New America) says right-wing terror killings are the highest total, but forgets those sources — and even moves onto new ones (ADL) — when the sum totals are politically inconvenient.
Deep Down, SPLC Knows
Even the Southern Poverty Law Center has admitted to Reuters that an average of 5 official hate crime murders happened annually between 2003–2015. A June 2017 hate crime report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics puts that average at 8 hate crime homicides per year.
More Statistical Cherry-Picking by Mainstream Media (the Anti-Defamation League example of ideological bias)
[Everything below slightly edited Oct 2018; also new info & statistics added in the “In Conclusion” ending of this Medium post, along with supporting arguments from Coleman Hughes, Glenn Loury and John McWhorter.]
Mainstream media continues to cherry pick the most shocking statistics, without providing context for methodology or questioning their sources. Sometimes, as a careful reader, it appears as if “all the news that’s fit to print” might not have substantiated facts girding certain news, especially when you take the time to drill down to verify their source claims. That’s what I did.
The Atlantic, a stalwart in modern journalism, immediately post-Charlottesville promoted right-wing killing totals three times higher than the GAO and five times as many as New America, and taking place in a smaller time frame, 2007 to 2016. They wrote in an article titled “What Trump Gets Wrong About Antifa” that right-wing extremists were responsible for “74 percent” of “372 murders,” and linking those numbers to a New York Times article that same week who themselves seemingly fabricated that data based on a report from the left-of-center Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The Atlantic stated, “According to the Anti-Defamation League [links to New York Times], Right-wing extremists committed 74 percent of the 372 politically motivated murders recorded in the United States between 2007 and 2016. Left-wing extremists committed less than 2 percent.” Without a doubt, deaths from left-wing extremism are vastly smaller than right-wing terrorism. But that’s not the point when the elephant in the room is Islamic extremism. This is not a credible statistic — again, the ADL via the New York Times is the source for the The Atlantic claim — because nowhere in the ADL 2016 report on murder and extremism are those numbers mentioned, categorized, or substantiated. In fact, two charts for 2015 and 2016 indicate approximately half are by Islamic extremism. It’s almost enough to make one think the mainstream media goes beyond cherry-picking, and just follows the leader — in this case The New York Times, blindly following one of the leading civil rights organizations of the past century — in repeating false information to solidify a particular narrative. (Perhaps when the writers already believe a particular worldview it makes it more difficult to question evidence that purports to support it.)
I even pay for these publications. You’d think they’d have stronger fact checkers.
Is it possible the ADL fudged those high extremist death numbers? It does take a little digging to see where major media outlets got that information of 372 murders. It came from ADL’s own website promoting the report:
Over the past 10 years (2007–2016), domestic extremists of all kinds have killed at least 372 people in the United States. Of those deaths, approximately 74% were at the hands of right-wing extremists, about 24% of the victims were killed by domestic Islamic extremists, and the remainder were killed by left-wing extremists
This information was presumably included in their press release sent directly to media. However, this page was not linked as a source in The New York Times or The Atlantic.
So unless the reader is privy to the information the ADL is providing journalists directly, we simply have to take them at their word. And it appears major media is taking the ADL at theirs. Should they? Especially when it only takes a little more journalistic digging — we’re talking an hour or two, tops — to sow doubt into their entire narrative.
My background in journalism reminds me that reporters don’t often question the statistics provided to them, but I will. When the number is much higher than other major reports, with racial tensions rising nationally, it’s your professional duty. Credible media should avoid needlessly throwing gasoline onto the culture war fires, or hype a false narrative that benefits the nonprofits who benefit financially from exaggerating threats from bigotry.
Even conservative fact checkers were confused. The website Check Your Fact wrote, “Within this broader context, [ADL senior fellow] Pitcavage’s statistic is likely accurate based on how the ADL defines different extremist groups, but no one statistic can show which political ideology commits more violence, as Pitcavage claims. His exclusion of other data points creates a false impression.”
Again, the PDF of the ADL report (ditto the previous year’s report) do NOT list these killings in detail taking place over a decade. Nor do they mention the 372 people killed with “approximately 74% were at the hands of right-wing extremists.” It’s simply not there. They do show in two pie charts that in 2016 there were 69 deaths with 17% committed by right-wing extremists, and in 2015 70% of 65 deaths were at the hands of right-wing extremists. An online political forum discussing the ADL report showed many were were also lost and confused, with one saying, “I can’t find in that PDF where it says this. Can someone help me out?”
ADL’s data promoted by The Atlantic and The New York Times may lead readers to believe the deaths are all ideological, when in fact it appears many are committed by extremist ideologues, but not under the guise of their right-wing or racist beliefs. This is an important distinction. From the incidents they mention, victims often aren’t minorities nor were the killings driven by ideology. One murder spree that represented one-third of all “white supremacist killings” in 2016 that the ADL mentioned was by Washington state resident Brent Luyster — an admittedly scary-looking racist covered in Nazi tattoos — who killed three of his own white friends and associates and nearly killing a fourth. Luyster’s motives likely have more to do with interpersonal conflict and stress — or to be less kind, for being a violent, paranoid psychopath — but have not been tied directly to “white supremacy,” nor did prosecutors present a compelling motive even as they convinced a jury to give him two life sentences.
I keep repeating: The ADL doesn’t even say “372 people” killed over a 10-year period within the report in which the ADL website appears to be summarizing. This is incredibly misleading. Even if they mentioned the “74% of 372 killings are right-wing” claim in the 8-page PDF, how can one trust it without detailing the homicides or listing source references? There are no citations. Amazingly, in the section “NOTES ON METHODOLOGY AND SOURCES” they admit their numbers are skewed to include actions by anyone with easily identifiable white supremacist tattoos while omitting others: “Prison-based violence by all extremist movements is definitely underrepresented.” The ADL also says, “It is fair to say that nonideological murders committed by extremists other than white supremacists are probably underrepresented here.”
Are There Financial Incentives for Fighting “Hate”? Are “Hate” Murders Exaggerated? (Short Answer: Yes.)
Indeed, the undercount of any non-white supremacist killings the ADL readily confesses. The ADL has controversially also put “alt-lite” groups into their “hate” column. Counting as a terror act what otherwise might simply be a criminal act committed by a white criminal radicalized in prisons (and tatted up) is a stretch as well.
Similarly, the Southern Poverty Law Center has indulged in exaggerated claims quite regularly for many years, including putting presidential candidate and current U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on their “Extremist Watch List” and then later apologizing. Conservative groups are livid about this labeling, because they rightly point out that the SPLC is often targeting ideology more than violence. In 2018, Majaid Nawaz, who ironically argues against hate on the BBC and in his own pro-Muslim nonprofit Quilliam, won a 3.375 million lawsuit and garnered an unprecedented public apology from the SPLC who labeled him “extremist” for critiquing aspects of Islam.
Many found this to be a watershed moment for SPLC’s loss of credibility. Though, SPLC is crying all the way to the bank.
It is not a coincidence that these groups are expanding what constitutes “hate” or bigotry. With donations to both organizations reaching record highs, including a 1000% surge to the ADL post-Charlottesville, the incentive to overreach or invoke smear tactics is certainly an easy argument to make. Politico pointed out how clearly the problem is at the Southern Poverty Law Center in an article titled, “Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?” As of 2018, the SPLC is sitting on an endowment of $477 million, many times more than the their endowment goal needed to sustain them.
In these times, racism is big business.
Also in these times, there’s no empirical evidence that violent hate incidents are spiking considerably. Hate crimes only increased slightly more than 4% in 2016, according to the FBI, with the biggest spikes coming against Muslims (20% increase, with 307 of 6,121 total hate crime incidents) and white people (17% increase, 720 incidents).
Clearly, despite the rhetoric and existential fear bubbling up to the surface this year, white supremacists are more obsessively concerned with “white genocide” than committing genocide.
Ironically, when talking about ideological trends in terrorism threats, the Anti-Defamation League appears to be stuck in the mire of their own ideologically left-wing bias. And they admit it. What the ADL is not going to admit — and no mainstream media is going to touch — is the fact blacks kill twice as many whites than vice versa. This occurs every year.
The 2015 Uniform Crime Report by the FBI states that in 2015 there were 500 killings of whites by blacks and 229 killings of blacks by whites (Hispanics are mixed between these two groups). The 2:1 ratio is consistent year-to-year. Most of these aren’t ideological, of course, but if someone wants to say 8% of black homicides are from white perpetrators, but 16% of white homicides are by black perpetrators, they wouldn’t be wrong. But what’s the point in mentioning that? Well, what’s the point in emphasizing all right-wing/racist threats — from white people, or “wypipo” — as a major existential crisis when according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics the hate crime murders total of ALL races is officially under 10 murders a year in a country of 320,000,000?
At any rate, methodologies are different for every study, be it ADL, GAO or New America (or the U.S. Homeland Security-affiliated START). But one should always question the bias in how those are made, which “unbiased” Snopes fails to do when exclusively highlighting the ADL statistics after the events in Charlottesville. For example, in the GAO report they count a gang killing by a white supremacist in prison as terrorism, as well as dozens of other murders that would not qualify as ideological. Yet there are 2000 gang killings a year, a vast majority committed by Latino or black-identified gang members, as only 11% of gang membership is white. Thus, it’s obvious on the surface the methdology isn’t applied consistently. One writer on Medium audited and critiqued the GAO report extensively and found only 12 of the 65 murders listed could qualify as “terrorism” by “right wing” groups, but given his own bias (right-wing conservative himself), venture at your own risk. Still, simply scanning a few killings, several appear suspect.
And remember: GAO still showed Islamic extremism was responsible for a greater number of deaths than right-wing extremism. But it’s more often mentioned the latter commits more “acts” and thus is more of a threat, apparently. Well, the September 11 attacks were one act (or three) as well.
New America, which again was widely used the last few years, appear to keep their methodology rigid and currently sit at terrorism totals of 95 (jihadist) versus 68 (right-wing) versus 8 (black separatist) — a total of just under 200 as we come upon the 16th anniversary of September 11 attack. Yet after Charlottesville, which was one year after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, I didn’t see New America mentioned much. Though, as I wrote before, there aren’t updated stories like the ones written 14 years after 9/11 with New America data, such as this Time magazine headline: “Study Says White Extremists Have Killed More Americans in the U.S. Than Jihadists Since 9/11.” The New America source was forgotten when it could support the narrative intellectual elites and the media wanted to share publicly. They moved onto GAO and ADL statistics, and focused on the stats that highlight right-wing threats while underplaying Islamic terrorism body counts.
Hate Crime Murders in 2017 and 8 Black Separatist / Left-Wing Police Killings NOT Listed in New America Data (UPDATED in 2018)
When reading the following ask yourself, “Did I hear about these hate crime incidents?” Part of it may be whether you paid attention to the news that day, but it could also reflect the echo chamber you’re in as well.
Likely the first hate crime murder of the year, which was widely written about, was by a drunken racist man who yelled “get out of my country” and “terrorist” before killing an Indian immigrant in a Kansas sports bar. He also shot two others, including a white guy who was a later honored as a hero by Time. The perpetrator Adam Purinton was given three consecutive life terms under federal hate crime laws.
There was also a single-person 2017 white-on-black hate crime soon after. James Jackson’s murder of Tim Caughman in New York City in March was immediately viewed as terrorism in the eyes of the prosecution. It was a symbolic, hateful act and one could argue it could be called that. Though, others like linguist John McWhorter believes terrorism’s meaning is shifting with the political winds, doesn’t see Dylann Roof as a “terrorist,” and finds hate murder and terrorist murder equally as appalling.
A May 2017 stabbing at University of Maryland of black student Richard Collins III by Christopher Urbanski was initially debated in the public sphere as to whether it could be considered a hate crime or not. But as of October 2017, the prosecution found enough evidence that Urbanski had white supremacist leanings for it be prosecuted as a racially motivated hate crime murder.
Seemingly all the “woke” world knows of the murder of 2 heroic white men in Portland, Oregon, by a mentally ill man spouting anti-Muslim sentiments that I mentioned in the intro of this post. My social media world was ablaze in anger. I mentioned this incident at the beginning of my post, where my birth state’s junior senator Jeff Merkley pinned the killing on the rhetoric of the far right.
Other hate-based murders don’t get the same attention, nor public appeals against the rhetoric that may inspire them.
Less known in some circles — progressive ones at least— is the black man that shot and killed 3 random white men in California in an indisputable hate crime. His actions were indisputably directed at whites as its reported he intentionally withdrew his gun’s aim away from Hispanic women. CNN gave these race-based murders no on-air coverage following the event, despite publishing a story on their website. The Fresno police chief says the incident was not Islamic terrorism — his name was Kori Ali Muhammad and he yelled “Allah Akbar” as he was being arrested— but his documented hero-worship of the Dallas police sniper terrorist show that anti-white ideology was indeed a motive in his decision to kill as many white people as he could before being arrested for killing a security guard the week before. When prejudicial hate is mixed with mental illness, as is the case with Muhammad, it’s is a dangerous cocktail. One could argue a volatile Molotov cocktail as media feeds a continual drum-beat of racist hatred being part and parcel of the American experiment.
Indeed, it’s the progressive activists who in my experience have never heard of this Fresno massacre when I bring it up who are increasingly calling out “white supremacy” for a host of social problems existing today. Yet no one talks about how that language could radicalize people; it’s only the language on the right that needs policing.
There may be a few more, but 2017 was mostly on par with the 8 hate crime murders per year average in 21st century America.
It’s also worth noting that New America does indeed count Muhammad’s 3 Fresno murders as terrorism under the “Black Separatist/Nationalist/Supremacist” category. All the other hate crime killings above, except for the Kansas murder, were listed by New America under the “Far Right Wing” column.
It’s also clear to me that New America could easily include 16 killings instead of 8 under the ideology of black separatism or left-wing hate. Let’s go through some of those. [2019 update: I think it could actually be 22 or higher, see bottom of this section. This would make black folks as likely to have “terrorist killers” in their ranks as white folks, on a per capita basis.]
Bewilderingly, I have a distinct memory of New America counting 3 police killed in Baton Rouge as “Black Separatist”-motivated at one time. That’s not the case anymore, as Gavin Eugene Long’s police murders after days of Black Lives Matter protests are not included. It’s possible they may have rethought their methodology and replaced those 3 homicides with the 2017 Fresno killings, which also adds up to 8 total since 9/11 when combined with the 2016 Dallas sniper “kill white police” shooting that killed 5 officers. It’s also possible I’m misremembering, but as I noted before New America shuffles their list totals and inclusions regularly. They even changed out the term “Far Left Wing” as a category for “Black Separatist/Nationalist/Supremacist.” New America also just added “Ideological Misogyny/Incel Ideology” as a category.
[2021 update and opinion: New America has a bad case of methodological bias. This is undoubtedly the case, as New America Foundation had Kyle Rittenhouse listed as a far-right ideological murderer until the moment he was acquitted of all charges, and no evidence of anti-black animus or far-right leanings has ever been proven. One could argue much of the country was brainwashed that Rittenhouse was a vigilante or terrorist rather than a person legally defending himself.]
Obviously, linguistic, ideological and political considerations are taking place behind the scenes.
Regardless, I’m unsure how the Dallas targeted police attacks are much different in nature than the Baton Rouge assassination of 3 cops shortly after. They’re on the same continuum of anti-police hate in my book, and took place during the same volatile pre-presidential #BLM-focused election summer.
Frankly, New America’s methodology doesn’t always make sense as they keep obviously terror-based killings out of their listing. Though they don’t go in the direction of GAO and ADL, who tend to broadly define killings as “Right Wing” and increase those totals to the upper limit. Yet it appears that the “Black” or “left-wing” total is 50% less than it could be if applying the same methodology they do with white right-wing killers.
In fact, there’s been several other police ambush murders in the past few years where one would easily assume they are ideological but aren’t mentioned on the New America website under “Black Separatist/Nationalist/Supremacist” while at the same time there are many white cop killers listed under “Far Right Wing.” This includes a black extremist, Malik Mohammad Ali, who killed 2 cops directly after Charlottesville in apparent revenge. Among the only outlets publicizing this killing was the the conservative Daily Caller website. They wrote, “His posts show anger towards police officers, President Trump, and white people, as well as frustration over the events last week in Charlottesville, where a man attending a white nationalist rally plowed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.” More than a year later, The Southern Poverty Law Center said the man formerly named Everett Glenn Miller is a “domestic antigovernment extremist” and is part of a growing trend of sovereign citizens willing to murder for their black supremacist “Moorish” beliefs. Ali/Miller also Tweeted out the mugshot of Heyer’s killer four days before his crime, a picture that went viral in countless Tweets and Facebook posts — the opposite phenomenon occurring regarding his own image and story. Chances are, dear reader, this is the first you’re hearing about him.
Additionally, New America strangely does not list the following ideological murders under their “Black Separatist” category:
- Chris Monfort, African American committed to social justice who hated the criminal justice system and killed a Seattle police officer in 2009, is not listed. The University of Washington graduate later died of a drug overdose in prison.
- Another African American, Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, who had ties to the Black Guerrilla Family and overtly said he wanted retribution for the killings Michael Brown and Eric Garner, ambushed and killed 2 NYPD officers in 2015. Even though he wrote on social media, “I’m putting Wings on Pigs Today … They Take 1 of Ours … Lets Take 2 of Theirs,” he is not listed by New America either.
Again, the math to get 16 total “Black Separatist” / “Far Left Wing” ideological killings since 9/11 based on examples above (likely, with additional research, more could be added):
- 5 police officers by Micah Xavier Johnson (Dallas, TX, July 2016) *
- 3 citizens by Kori Ali Muhammad (Fresno, CA, April 2017) *
- 3 police officers by Gavin Eugene Long (Baton Rouge, LA, July 2016)
- 2 police officers by Everett Glenn Miller (a.k.a. Malik Mohammad Ali, Kissimmee, FL, August 2017)
- 2 police officers by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley (New York City, NY, December 2014)
- 1 police officer by Chris Monfort (Seattle, WA, October 2009)
As I note that some “right-wing” deaths occasionally get added years after they occurred. So I will put this out there to the esteemed Peter Bergen who heads New American Foundation. Shouldn’t those names above, out of respect for their victims and to be consistent, be included on this important website?
Speaking of Googling Peter Bergen and finding some of his recent updates …
2019 Addendum: What If Per Capita Offending in Ideological Terrorism Was the Same Between Whites and Blacks? (Answer: With at Least 22 Black Terrorist Killings Since 9/11, They Likely Are.)
Let me go even further, and note that if we’re using the same methodologies used to tabulate the number of right-wing terror murders (typically racially motivated killings by white Americans) listed in New America, certainly the 6 white people assassinated in Kansas by Fredrick Demond Scott who wanted to “kill all white people” would make the cut.
That would make 22 killings by terrorism inspired by black ideology or anti-white animus. Compare that to the combined “Far Right Wing” and “Incel/Misogyny” killing total of 117, and that’s just about 5 times less. But on a per capita basis, with the black population being 5 times smaller than the white population, both white and black populations are equally as likely to commit an act of terrorism since 9/11!
This may even be the tip of the iceberg. Who knows how many more may be counted in the imbalanced 2:1 killing ratio where blacks regularly murder twice as many whites year in and year out? That number totaled 576 black-on-white killings and 264 white-on-black killings in 2017, according to FBI data.
And yes, if you pay close attention to those totals, ideological or hate murders are small fleck in the eye of the overall homicide monster.
From the Washington Post who manages not to fit “terror,” “hate,” or “hate crime” into this story. In fact, there is scant mention of race:
Beginning in August 2016 and continuing deep into the next year, the bodies of hikers and dog walkers were found dead along the city’s Indian Creek trail or on nearby roadways. They were all shot. They were all middle-aged. They were all white.
The killing stopped after the August arrest of Fredrick Demond Scott, a 22-year-old Burger King employee. As The Washington Post reported in September, Scott, who is African American, had allegedly threatened to shoot up his high school and “kill all white people.”
[and later] After Scott’s arrest, local news outlets dug up his alleged past threats regarding race. In 2014, Scott was a student at an alternative school when he allegedly threatened to “shoot the school up, Columbine-style.” According to municipal court documents, he also spoke of wanting to kill himself and to “kill all white people.”
Unsurprisingly given the “social responsibility” nature of news today, after initially reporting the fact Scott had said he wanted to “kill all white people,” the Kansas City Star wrote a hand-wringing editorial about his schizophrenia being one cause of his criminal and racist serial killing. Many involved in the case don’t buy it. But as mentioned above, legitimately we could say it was an act done out of his hatred of white people. It’s at the very least consistent with these examples listed on the New America paged titled, “The Terrorist Threat is From Across the Political Spectrum”:
- “2017 Oregon Train Stabbing: On Friday, May 26, 2017 Jeremy Joseph Christian stabbed to death two men and injured a third on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon. The two men who were killed intervened when Christian started harassing two African-American teenagers — one of whom is Muslim and was wearing traditional Muslim clothing — on the MAX train and used anti-immigrant hate speech in addition to other vitriol.” [Note: The men were white but defending these women during the hate incident. And Christian was clearly as mentally ill as Fredrick Demond Scott in Kansas.]
- “2018 Kansas City Murder: In July 2018, Ronald Lee Kidwell, a 47-year-old white man, was arrested and charged in the murder of MeShon Cooper-Williams, a 43-year-old African-American woman whose body had been found after she had been reported missing in early July. Kidnell reporteldy was a white supremacist who would brag about membership in the KKK and drape himself in the Confederate flag … Law enforcement has not labeled the murder a hate crime, but says it is investigating all possibilities.”
So if those “count,” certainly many others do with less politically convenient narratives.
Sometimes, Major Media Is Completely Incorrect with No One Fact-checking Them
Since writing this piece in Summer 2017, I’ve continued to see the media play up right-wing “white terrorism” as a major threat even though in the Trump era mass shootings have stayed mostly proportional by race (though, obviously almost all committed by men), and they represent far less than 1% of fatal firearm murders. But the media is hell-bent on playing up white right-wing terrorism as a bigger threat than the facts dictate. The New York Times fabricated what the FBI said in an editorial on August 4 , 2019, directly after a El Paso anti-immigrant xenophobic massacre in Walmart killed 22. They wrote, “Far more Americans have died at the hands of domestic terrorists than at the hands of Islamic extremists since 2001, according to the F.B.I. The agency’s resources.”
“Far more,” they say, “have died,” they continue, “since 2001.” (The infamous 9/11 delineation.) Despite all their resources, The New York Times couldn’t fact-check their own links. That’s not at all what the FBI said.
The word “according” in The New York Times editorial links to an ABC News article with excerpt: “The official revealed the FBI currently has a total of just under 5,000 open terrorism cases, including 850 domestic terror-related cases, and acknowledged that far more Americans have been killed in domestic terror attacks than Islamic terror attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.”
Yes, ABC News did say that. But they were wrong. If you end up going to the next ABC News source under the words “850 domestic terror-related cases,” you discover in one astonishing moment — at least for journalism majors like myself — that both ABC News and the New York Times can’t even fact-check their own sources! ABC News: “The FBI is currently investigating nearly 850 people across the United States as possible domestic terrorists, and the number of cases targeting white supremacists, white nationalists and other racially-motivated extremists has jumped in the past six months … ‘In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,’ the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity, told a House panel Wednesday.”
“Far more,” they say, “arrests AND deaths,” they continue, “in recent years.” See what they did there? They used an FBI quote that combined arrests and deaths, and used it as the basis of saying this misleading alternative fact: “Far more Americans have died at the hands of domestic terrorists than at the hands of Islamic extremists since 2001.”
Basically, if you think the mainstream media has a bias, well, you’re not incorrect. They’re doing all they can to actually diminish jihadist terrorism in order to play up right-wing terrorism.
There’s nothing wrong with paying attention to both. And there’s nothing wrong with shifting the tide to focus on new terrorism threats. I just find it interesting — nay hypocritical and poor journalism — that after a multi-year break from using it as a source, Slate and other “woke” media now find it convenient to use New America sourcing again. Which makes sense now that “right wing” terrorism has the #1 death total, and they can write headlines like this again:
After El Paso, Right-Wing Terrorists Have Killed More People on U.S. Soil Than Jihadis Have Since…
Trump Impeachment Defense Strategy Loses Momentum in Unexpected Confrontation With Reality Here's How We Know the…
Update Sept 2019: New America Posted a New Report (Could explain why their chart went up from 109 far right killings to 111 killings.)
So Peter Bergen and his fellow writers ended up writing a 9/11 anniversary report that consists of five fact-filled pages:
Terrorism in America 18 Years After 9/11
Our annual report assesses the threat of terrorism to the United States.
Though there are many ideological strands, and attackers’ ideological reference points are often in flux or complex, one particular ideological strand — white supremacy — stands out as a particular danger. Over the past three years, since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the United States has seen a spate of deadly white supremacist terrorist attacks. Every deadly far-right attack in this period identified by New America had a nexus to white supremacy. Together these attacks killed 43 people, which is four times the number of people killed in jihadist terrorism in the same period. There were also more than three times as many deadly far-right attacks with connections to white supremacy in the same period as deadly jihadist attacks.
According to Michael McGarrity, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, and Calvin Shivers, deputy assistant director of the criminal investigative division, “individuals adhering to racially motivated violent extremism ideology have been responsible for the most lethal incidents among domestic terrorists in recent years, and the FBI assesses the threat of violence and lethality posed by racially motivated violent extremists will continue.”95 They also testified before Congress that “there have been more domestic terrorism subjects disrupted by arrest and more deaths caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years.”96
White supremacist terrorist attacks and violence more generally, appears to be increasingly interlinked and internationalized. A study by the New York Times determined that “at least a third of white extremist killers since 2011 were inspired by others who perpetrated similar attacks” and that the connections cross international borders.97 Several events illustrate this dynamic. On April 27, 2019, a man shot and killed one person in a white supremacist attack on a synagogue in Poway, Calif. The attack came six months to the day after the white supremacist attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which killed eleven people in the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The attacker specifically referenced the Pittsburgh attack in an online manifesto as well as citing the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 51 people.98
Finally, My Unpublished Work — Relevant?
This piece I wrote after the Pittsburgh synagogue murders by a white nationalist who ascribed to white genocide conspiracy theories after there was an onslaught of finger-pointing at angry white men after Trump. CNN’s Don Lemon topped the list. But I looked at the data and found simply that wasn’t the case. White Americans simply aren’t over-represented in hate murder, but that’s how they’re constantly represented in the media. I firmly believe this disconnect between reality and media representation is what leads to Trump being president, and may actually be furthering more white nationalism — which is dangerous for America, I believe.
Forgot 9/11 and 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing?
OK, let’s include them. An analysis today by the Cato Institute does.
“Islamist terrorists are the deadliest since 1992. They killed about 13.5 times as many people as Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists who, in turn, killed about 12 times as many people as Left Wing terrorists did. The deadliness of terrorists by ideology has changed over time and will continue to do so. Charlottesville was a tragedy and the person responsible should be tried and, if convicted, punished to the fullest extent possible under the law. However, it is important to realize that the actual scale and scope of the recent terrorist threat differs significantly by ideology even though the annual chance of being murdered in such an attack is still small.”
The Real Question Is: What Should We Do to Keep Ourselves Safe?
The evidence clearly shows that the largest threats are still from Islamic extremism compared to right-wing terrorism. But as stated repeatedly, based on the last 15 years, the chances of dying from a racist or jihadist is infinitesimally small. And if “the big ‘ol dirty bomb” happens, as vast quantities of radiological material is currently missing, don’t be in a big city.
One can view the Wikipedia list of terror threats since 9/11 which focuses on terror plots by Islamic jihadists. Several large attacks that could have led to catastrophic loss of life have indeed been averted.
U.S. Senators accessing government data found that terror acts stopped by authorities since 9/11 are predominantly jihadist or foreign-born suspects. (Keep that in mind when media outlets like Vox blare headlines like, “White American men are a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners.”) 2016 news reports showed that from September 2001 through 2014, the U.S. successfully prosecuted 580 individuals for terrorism and terror-related cases. 380 were foreign-born. 40 were admitted to the U.S. as refugees, a little less than 10%. Refugees make up far less than 1% of the U.S. population, and last year’s 84,995 refugees allowed into the United States represent 1/40th of 1% of the population. Thus, it’s obvious — but not politically correct to say — that refugees constitute a disproportionate number of terrorists. That may be expected, but it potentially radicalizes more people to the alt-right when we can’t even have a national discussion about it. Especially when “whites” can be labeled disproproate threats if their terror killings constitute half of the total, but the same logic doesn’t apply politically when whites are half of killings by police year after year. No, then they go, “Wait, as a share of their population, blacks are killed by cops nearly three times as much as whites — that’s racism!”
When so-called experts talk about right-wing terrorism, they tend to overplay their hand by omitting a large-scale Islamic attack (not counting the man who killed 49 in the Orlando shooting, for example, due to no “direct contact” with ISIS), or focusing on “300 [right-wing] attacks a year since 2001” without explaining what those are — or how loosely defined. They do all this in a sensationalist June 2017 Newsweek article, diving into the oft-mentioned — yet slightly dubious — Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate-crime databases:
Why far-right extremism in America is rising
The murder in College Park, Maryland of Richard Collins III, an African-American student who had recently been…
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that researches U.S. extremism, reported 900 bias-related incidents against minorities in the first 10 days after Trump’s election.
Actually, I did an analysis — asking for “HELP” and feedback — of that Southern Poverty Law Center reporting, and I couldn’t even find 1% of those incidents rose to the level of battery violence. I often share this tidbit and I am open to change the total. I just haven’t found hardly any physically violent hate crimes despite scouring every lead and news report I could find:
HELP: I’m Trying to Document All Verifiable Acts of Hate-Based Battery Violence (political, race…
This is serious. I’m attempting to document post-election “battery violence.” I have every verified occurrence listed…
Southern Poverty Law Center claims more than 700 cases compiled via their online portal in the three weeks since the election, mentioning 27 “anti-Trump” incidents. Shaun King using the platform “Ushahidi” claims 300, with 80 “acts of violence” in the mix. But what are those “violent acts” exactly? Again, I have searched on their pages and elsewhere and come up with three concrete ones.
A quick analysis on the Southern Poverty Law Center data shows how few claims rise to a level of physical violence. Based on my numbers above:
• 3 cases of “battery violence” out of 674 (701 minus 27 anti-Trump)= .4%
• 7 cases of “battery violence” out of 27 = 26%
Those are some vastly disparate averages. Are anti-Trump “haters” 50x more effective pugilists? Logic may dictate there’s something fishy going on in the world of social justice and how the media reports about it.
In Conclusion: What about Hate Crimes? What Is the Threat Level?
While there is a 17% increase in the number of hate groups since 2014, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the white nationalist/neo-Nazi ones have dropped precipitously. It’s the growth of black hate groups that drove that jump. Additionally, no one knows if each group has 10 members or 100 or 1000 — they don’t open their membership records, and few are verifiable like the 3000 in the Ku Klux Klan in 22 states, compromising the largest and most notorious hate group. (That’s one Klansman for every 100,000 Americans, if keeping track.) Critics have said the SPLC should focus on the total number of hate-fueled individuals that could be spread among splinter groups — and they certainly have the resources to do so.
Counterintuitively, CNN’s reporting of the SPLC numbers shows white nationalists fell from 146 groups in 2011 to just 100 groups today. The number of neo-Nazi groups dropped from 170 to 99. Black separatist groups have more than doubled to 193 today, representing one-fifth of all hate groups. Anti-Muslim groups jumped up nearly none to 101, and although there was a widely reported 67% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes (257 incidents, up from 154), Jews are half of religious-based hate crime victims and were still four times more likely to be a victim than Muslims. The most official record is still the FBI Uniform Crime Report on hate crimes, which report under 6000 from a high of just above 8000 in the 1990s. Though tabulating hate crime statistics is far from perfect, the annual FBI report still covers almost 90% of the population and told us there was a 6.8% increase in reported hate crimes in 2015. Will they jump again? We’ll have to wait until November 2017 when we find out numbers for 2016.
2018 UPDATE: Again, I’m tweaking some text and added these images above and below. It turns out U.S. hate crimes increased slightly more than a 4% in 2016. Murders jumped even higher each year, more than 20% in total from 2014 to 2016, killing at least a thousand times more people than hate crime murders. In fact, these are the Bureau Justice of Statistics facts on hate crime murders:
During 2003–15, the UCR program also reveals that 100 persons were victims of hate crime homicide (murder or nonnegligent manslaughter) (not shown). This was an average of eight hate crime homicides per year in the United States during this 12-year period. However, in 2015 there were 18 recorded hate crime homicides.
It’s worth noting that Dylann Roof was responsible for half of those 18 murders in 2015. However, when I explained to people it was an anomaly, people invested with the narrative that the United States is a horribly racist place would have none of it.
Bizarrely, the 17,250 murders in 2016, up from 14,164 in 2014, is written about a fraction as often in the major media as incidents dealing with bigotry and racism. It’s all but ignored by my friends personally, and bringing it up isn’t considered “politically correct.” Coleman Hughes, a young African American writer with Quillette and rising star in the Intellectual Dark Web also stated in October 2018 on The Rubin Report on YouTube about how The New York Times will hardly ever focus on the 8,000 or more black men murdered every year (mostly by other black men). He’s not wrong. Coleman pointed out that The New York Times is more interested in publishing narratives like this one in April 2018: “Should I Give Up on White People?” Or this one in November 2017: “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?” Coleman and I might agree that this headline is desperately needed in click-bait website The Root: “Why are We Black People Killing Our Neighbors by the Thousands Every Year?”
Fellow African Americans more than twice Hughes’ age, professors Glenn Loury and the aforementioned John McWhorter, regularly invoke the senseless murders over basketball shoes occurring every summer, among many other cultural factors affecting black outcomes just as much — if not more — than structural ones. All of them are focused on improving outcomes in education that will lead to further success for black Americans. All shake their heads at the argument it’s racism holding blacks back today. All have been called “Uncle Toms” or worse by pockets of the left. The three of them even showed up together in an informative, orthodox-shattering podcast for The Fifth Column. I hope they do more.
From what I can see with the available evidence, violence from hate crimes and ideologically right-wing terrorism is not statistically worse than the 1990s — or any other time in post-Civil War history where lynchings were greatly more commonplace with nearly 5000 lynchings 1882–1968. It’s also worth noting lynchings averaged far less than 5 a year after 1936 until the year Martin Luther King was assassinated (I count 72 killings over a 32-year period). It’s also true one-quarter of lynchings are white and three-fourths black, according to records kept at Tuskegee University. Both are historical facts I discovered on my own and are almost never mentioned in the public sphere. (And for some reason U.N. groups try to invoke police killings as modern day “lynchings,” despite the fact 75% of people killed by police are non-black citizens. Truly, international institutions have now “jumped the shark” in terms of reason.)
We just are paying more attention to prejudice because of Trump. There’s also very little doubt his actions and presidency are emboldening the tiny minority of arguably the most deplorable people found in the U.S. population. But even before his “Make America Great Again” dog-whistling, we were filling our brains with images of racial and ethnic division because of social media and traditional media’s constant infatuation with inflammatory news, which rarely if ever provides context.
The threat is clear: The most racist, hateful subset of 63% of the population that is non-Hispanic white aren’t the threat you should be worrying about. It’s your family member, your neighbor, or your community where a vast majority of violent victimizations come from. I’ve also been able to conclude that .2-.3% of violent crimes are hate crime-related (1 in 300). From available data, hate crime homicides (8 annually, according to the U.S. government) are .05% (1 in 2000) of overall homicides. Overall homicides rose 8.6% in one year to 17,250 in 2016, and around 53% are committed by blacks, 26% by non-Hispanic whites, and 20% by Hispanics — at least according to FBI arrest statistics. It’s also worth noting, as written brilliantly in Jill Leovy’s “important” book on black-on-black violence, “Ghettoside,” that blacks are less likely than whites to be arrested for murder, much of this coming from the culture of silence within black communities where “snitching” can get you killed. Hate crime murders, obviously, may be an undercount due to the fact the only witness to it being a hate-driven act is deceased. Even so, annual FBI data on hate crimes show blacks and Hispanics are over-represented in terms of offenders, and whites are under-represented.
These are hard facts from FBI hate crime arrest stats:
- 26% of perpetrators of hate crimes are black (13% of population)
- 46% are white (63% of population are non-Hispanic white with around 16–17% of ethnic Hispanics added to that in FBI categories — basically whites and Hispanics are mixed together, combining to about 80% of total population in FBI stats)
- 26% are Hispanic (17% of the population)
Is that the picture the media’s been sharing?
BONUS GRAPHICS I MADE: Just So you Know Where I’m Coming From
I know many people have an existential fear of what’s to come in this country. Still, we should be aware of the lack of violent events in the recent past as a gauge of understanding ideological threat levels. Even if murder-by-bigotry or twisted beliefs triples or quadruples, how is that going to affect us year-to-year? I myself designed these two meme images, which I thought would also be a food-for-thought addendum for this posting.