In the wake of the catastrophic Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand, news broke about the attacker’s view of Donald Trump as a symbol of white identity. That attack reflects fairly almost all incidents of domestic terror in Trump’s own country.
The spree killer in Parkland, Florida had racist and Nazi symbols on his backpack and etched swastikas on weapon magazines left behind at the school. A white supremacist attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh believing Jews orchestrated nonwhite immigration as an assault on white identity. A California member of the neo-Nazi “Atomwaffen” stabbed a gay Jewish student twenty times in the face and neck.
“Whites don’t kill whites,” said a Kentucky domestic terrorist.
As a matter of editorial policy, Grit Post does not name these attackers.
Of all the incidents of ideologically-motivated violence in America in 2018, 98 percent were committed by right-wing extremists according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center on Extremism. Over the last decade, 73 percent of lives lost in extremist violence have been lost to right-wing fringe elements ranging from Nazis to sovereign citizens.
“2018 saw the highest percentage [98 percent] of right-wing extremist-related killings since 2012, the last year when all documented killings were by right-wing extremists,” reads the report. “Right-wing extremists also killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995.”
To meet the threshold for inclusion in this report, it was not enough for an incident to seem motivated by extremist views. Rather, that connection had to be made through proof linking the attacker to an extremist group or ideology.
That may in part explain why the ADL report shows a dramatic rise over a Global Terrorism Database report last year that linked 57 percent of violence committed in 2017 to right-wing extremism.
Both reports however indicated a marked rise in extremist violence in recent years. This may be a reflection of, or contribution to, right-wing activist rhetoric about a “civil war“.
“We are in a civil war in this country. There’s two standards of justice, one for Democrats one for Republicans. The press is all Democrat, all liberal, all progressive, all left – they hate Republicans, they hate Trump,” said former administration attorney Joseph DiGenova, “It’s going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things: I vote and I buy guns.”
DiGenova’s remarks pair with increasingly ominous rhetoric from the National Rifle Association in recent years.
The report from the ADL Center on Extremism offered policy prescriptions ranging from tightening hate crime prosecutions to dialogue between the civil and tech sectors to enacting laws to fight domestic terror.
Notably, though, the report called for speaking out against far-right extremism and reframing prevention strategies to specifically counter right-wing ideological extremism.
“While we must continue to address that threat, the time has come to recognize that far-right extremism is an ongoing, pervasive and consistent threat to innocent lives in America,” the report reads. “The promotion of hate – and bias-motivated criminal activity – must be vehemently rejected.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.