The Facts on Right-Wing Extremism

'Unite the Right' Rally in Charlottesville, Va.

The right-wing extremist “Unite the Right” rally and violence in Charlottesville, Va., was clear evidence of the rising right-wing violent extremist threat in the United States. Safe Communities Institute (SCI) Director Dr. Erroll Southers published an op-ed in USA Today on recent instances of violent extremism and the importance of rejecting extremist ideas in the public square. He wrote, in part:

Since 9/11, the uptick in terrorism has not come from foreign threats. Instead it is owed to homegrown terrorists, with significant surges in attacks in 2008 and 2012, coinciding with the election and re-election of Barack Obama, America’s first African-American president.

The New America Foundation reports an almost 2-1 ratio of attacks by far-right extremists over Islamist extremists. The Anti-Defamation League reports that from 2007 to 2016, a diverse collection of extremists was responsible for the deaths of at least 372 people in the United States; 74% of these murders came at the hands of right wing extremists. These trends are accelerating, rapidly. In an eight-day period in May, for example, there was a string of violent extremist incidents that received little media attention and, unsurprisingly, no condemnation from the president.

  • May 20 – Richard Collins III, an African American and Bowie State University student, was stabbed to death by Sean Urbanski, a member of a Facebook group called the “Alt-Reich: Nation.”
  • May 26 – Three men in Portland tried to stop white supremacist Jeremy Christian from harassing two women who appeared to be Muslim. For their bravery, the three men were viciously attacked; two were murdered and the third was seriously injured.
  • May 27 – Anthony Hammond was arrested in Clearlake, Calif. for allegedly stabbing a black man with a machete, after yelling racial slurs. While en route to the Lake County Jail, Hammond threatened to kill the transporting officer and his family once he was released. Hammond was charged with committing a hate crime, among other charges.
  • May 28 – Two Native American men in Washington State were run over by a pickup truck driven by a white man shouting racial slurs and war whoops. One of the tribal members was killed and the other hospitalized.

All of these attacks were committed by extremists who appear to be inspired by a politically motivated ideology that posits racial, moral and religious superiority and demands violent action to advance it. People are dead or injured because of ideologically motivated attacks. Where is the public outrage? Where are the calls for national unity and enhanced security? Why aren’t we asking where and how these people were radicalized?

The truth of it is that our nation has been conditioned to view terrorism as the exclusive province of extremist Muslims. And now the chickens are coming home to roost. For far too long, the terrorist threat from white supremacists has grown in the shadows. They are feeling emboldened, shameless for their shameful ideas, and they are coming together in ways that will only lead to more violence.

Read the full article in USA Today.

Safe Communities Institute

The Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the USC Price School of Public Policy continues a more than 60-year tradition of research, interdisciplinary education, and collaboration to advance sustainable “whole-of-community” public safety strategies, policies, and programs. SCI takes a holistic approach to encouraging and informing public safety efforts through collaboration between all public safety disciplines and the communities they serve.

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