Right-wing extremists killed more people in the U.S. last year than in any year since 1995 — and Trump is dismantling our ability to deal with the threat.
Every extremist murder in the U.S. in 2018 was linked to right-wing extremism, according to an alarming new report from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.
The annual report found that at least 50 people were killed by extremists in 2018, marking a 35 percent increase from 2017. This makes 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.
All 50 murders were committed by people with ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, making right-wing extremists responsible for more killings in 2018 than any year since 1995, when Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City.
Currently, there are more than a dozen active right-wing extremist movements in the U.S. that engage in violence, including white supremacists, anti-government sovereign citizens and militias, and anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremists.
In 2018, the vast majority of extremist killings were carried out by white supremacists, and guns were involved in 42 of out the 50 killings, the report said.
Included among the incidents in the report was the October mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jews were murdered by a white supremacist convinced that Jews were responsible for the so-called "caravan" of asylum-seeking migrants traveling towards the U.S. border.
In another incident, a white supremacist with ties to the Christian Identity movement allegedly set his African American roommate on fire at a Veterans Affairs home in Tennessee, then bragged about the killing in a jailhouse letter to a white supremacist group.
The Christian Identity movement preaches racist and anti-Semitic beliefs, often accompanied by extreme anti-government sentiments — demonstrating the frequent convergence of different right-wing extremist ideologies within one movement.
Other incidents in 2018 included the mass shooting at a Florida yoga studio, which was carried out by a misogynistic "incel" who posted racist rants on YouTube, and the Parkland, Florida, school shooting perpetrated by a student who said he wished "all the Jews were dead."
According to aggregate data from the ADL's Center on Extremism, nearly three out of four extremist-related killings over the last decade can be linked to domestic right-wing extremists.
But as this new report shows, right-wing extremist violence is not only the greatest domestic terror threat — it's also the threat that is increasing most rapidly.
These findings are in line with other recent reports documenting a spike in right-wing extremism and associated violence over the past two years.
According to a November 2018 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the number of terrorist attacks in the U.S. committed by far-right perpetrators more than quadrupled between 2016 and 2017.
That same month, the Washington Post published an analysis showing that incidents of right-wing violence have surged since Trump took office. Also in November, the FBI released new statistics documenting a rise in hate crimes coinciding with Trump's presidency, with particularly notable increases in anti-Hispanic and anti-Semitic crimes.
While Trump has attempted to deny his role in inspiring violence, experts say right-wing extremists believe Trump is "offering them tacit support for their cause." And they’re right — he is, as are his GOP allies.
When members of a synagogue were brutally murdered by an anti-Semitic gunman motivated by a conspiracy theory floated by Republican lawmakers and right-wing media figures, Trump blamed the victims for not being armed.
When members of the pro-Trump extremist group known as the Proud Boys unleashed a violent mob attack following an appearance at a mainstream Republican institution in New York City, the GOP responded with nothing but deafening silence.
But when non-violent asylum seekers showed up at the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump sent thousands of troops to deal with the manufactured crisis.
When Trump floated conspiracy theories about terrorists sneaking through the border and invented wild tales about women being bound with duct-tape and smuggled into the U.S., Republicans lined up behind him and supported his demand for a border wall — even when that meant shutting down the entire government as leverage.
This is a continuation of a trend that started before Trump took office and continues to this day.
Even in the face of a mountain of evidence showing that right-wing extremists pose the greatest danger to the homeland, Trump and members of his administration still point to Islamic extremism and illegal immigration as the primary domestic terror threats in America.
When one immigrant commits a crime, Trump uses them as an example to demonize all immigrants, but when white supremacists commit violent crimes en masse, Trump ignores it completely — or even worse, shuts down programs to prevent the violence and redirects resources to focus on threats other than white supremacist terrorism.
And now, the same racism and anti-immigrant fervor that are fueling Trump's ongoing demands for a border wall to keep people out are blinding him to the greatest threat — the one that's already here.
Published with permission of The American Independent.