Violent Extremism in the U.S. | NowThis World

The US

has a problem with extremism But it might not be the kind you’re thinking of In terms of sheer numbers of attacks in the US over the last decade, one group in particular should stand out to you

11 worshippers shot and killed in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh by a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs 14 pipe bombs at the doors of leading Democratic politicians and donors, and CNN Two black customers shot in a grocery store in Kentucky by a white man after he failed to make it inside a predominantly black church minutes before All within the last two weeks White supremacist and other forms of right-wing violence are currently the deadliest active domestic extremist movements in the U

S, according to data from several civil rights groups that track hate crimes and extremist violence Southern Poverty Law Center is one of those groups We spoke with the center’s Heidi Beirich, who’s been following extremist movements for almost two decades, to help break it all down Let’s just start with the numbers

Over the last decade, right-wing extremists committed more than 70% of extremist-related murders, according to a report published earlier this year by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism The Government Accountability Office similarly reported in 2017 that right-wing extremists were responsible for 73% of fatal extremist incidents since 9/11 The most common groups victimized by these extremists are those who are black, Hispanic, or part of a multi-racial couple or family It’s important to note that right-wing domestic extremism is an umbrella term under which various right-wing ideologies fall in the US

Crimes committed by people who are anti-government, anti-semitic, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and fascist, among other things, also fall under this category But of all the sub groups that fall under right-wing domestic extremism, white supremacists have committed the most attacks in recent years, like the Charleston church shooting and Charlottesville attack [Beirich]: When we talk about terrorism at the Southern Poverty Law Center, we’re talking about white supremacy, and what I mean by that is somebody who believes the white race is literally better than all the other races, and these folks usually believe that the United States should be what they call a white ethnostate [Host]: When it comes to racially-motivated hate crimes, black Americans are overwhelmingly targeted They make up 66% of the victims of racially-motivated hate crimes since 1995

A recent report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino shows that anti-black hate crimes were the most common of any in at least five of the ten largest US cities in 2017 And when it comes to extremist ideologies, there have been incidents of attacks inspired by the so-called Islamic state For example, the mass shootings at Pulse Nightclub in 2016 and a San Bernardino health center in 2015

But statistically, white American men in the US pose a bigger threat than foreigners committing acts of extremism But you might not know that based on some of the coverage and political rhetoric surrounding extremism [Donald Trump]: Donald J

Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States I think Islam hates us I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK? [Host]: Journalists have also been complicit in the narrative that often paints white perpetrators as 'quiet' or 'lone wolves' rather than labeling them as 'terrorists,' as they’re often quicker to do with non-white perpetrators Extremist attacks committed by those who are Muslim receive on average 357% more US

press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims, according to a recent university study [ [Beirich]: If all the domestic terrorists who were white males were covered as heavily, and connectected together in one story [] we would have a different image that would come to our mind

[Host]: In fact, Muslims and Jews, are among the most frequent religious targets of white supremacist violence Muslims comprised 24% and Jews, 54%, of victims of religiously-motivated hate crimes, according to the FBI’s most recent data [Beirich]: In people’s minds, they don’t really put together that this is a pattern of violent activity connected to one ideology, basically, white supremacy, in the same way that they do when they think about extremist Muslim violence [Host]: But when it comes to actually being charged with terrorism, recent data from the investigative nonprofit The Nation Institute shows that when terrorist incidents result in arrest, Muslim perpetrators are far more likely to be charged than far-right perpetrators A very small number of white supremacist cases do result in terrorism charges

But what about the Oklahoma City bomber? What about the Parkland school shooter? Indeed, all of these people had a well-documented history of racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic views [Beirich]: There is a very, very narrow range under the law that applies to domestic terrorism where someone can actually be charged for terroristic offenses It usually involves things like, did they use a weapon of mass destruction? So you could have a person committing an act of terrorism internationally, that is exactly the same as someone doing it domestically, and you're going to get two completely different sets of charges [Host]: Though there are varying definitions, under the federal US

criminal code, domestic terrorism is defined as, Beirich says domestic terrorism legislation tends to be stronger at the state level than federal While some politicians have called on the government to pass a domestic terrorism statute, other people say that would be federal overreach It’s also important to note that different groups have different standards for tracking extremist violence But no matter which way you look at it, data overwhelmingly show that white men are committing more acts of violent extremism in the US

than any other group And it’s on the rise The number of hate groups in the US have been ticking up in the last few years

White supremacist murders more than doubled in from 2016 to 2017 Hate crimes also surged And this hate has found a home online Major tech platforms including Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have come under scrutiny over whether they’re doing enough to monitor and block this hateful rhetoric Increasingly, white supremacists with significant followings have been booted from the platforms, but tech companies also face pushback over whether those actions amount to censoring free speech

Beirich says, this kind of thinking isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, and that everyday citizens who want to combat this problem can write letters to tech companies and local representatives to lobby for increased oversight But ultimately, she says, it’s up to the government to track these movements more closely [Beirich]: White supremacy started with our constitution It’s part of our history It's something we battled against for decades to get equal rights for people of color

And if we want to get rid of it, we’re going to have to first of all realize how dangerous it is, and then defeat that way of thinking here at home

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