With the election over, the news cycle slower, and a new year nigh, this is the time of year we begin to take stock of what’s happened since we last switched calendars. One such item is a new report that claims terrorism is down on a global basis. Alas, the good news is tempered by an upswing in “right-wing violence.” At least that’s how The Washington Post framed it:
Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist. … While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President [Donald] Trump took office.
The Trump-deranged WaPo isn’t exactly an honest broker here, as even it admits “many acts of domestic terrorism do not sort neatly across the ideological spectrum.” But it provided a handy excuse for other outlets to further the narrative about “far-right” terrorism or violence on a global scale, thanks to the recently released annual report called the Global Terrorism Index.
If one were to believe in media bias against a certain American president, the fact that news stories are stressing the minor amount of terror deemed to be “right-wing” at a time when global terrorism is down thanks to the demise of the Islamic State — well, that might be exhibit A.
Reading beyond the headlines and digging into the data, we see that the nations with terrorism problems tend to have two common factors: open warfare and what’s termed “political terror,” meaning, “extra-judicial killings, torture and imprisonment without trial.” Doesn’t sound like the West is a hotbed for terror given those criteria, does it? We also see that a significant portion of the data on terrorist attacks comes from a group called START, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, which describes itself as “a university-based research and education center comprised [sic] of an international network of scholars committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.”
But like its leftist media brethren, START has focused more on the perceived threat of “far-right” violence. One case in point: research during the Obama administration on the “militia/sovereign citizen movement.” A comparison of START projects labeled “left-wing terrorism” and “right-wing terrorism” found that, while there were a number of common projects, the large majority of those found with only one of the labels were deemed “right-wing terrorism.” As another example, they were quick to categorize the Pittsburgh synagogue assault as a right-wing crime, assuming the anti-Semitic attitude exhibited by the shooter was evidence of right-wing leanings despite his professed hatred of President Trump.
Granted, most of START’s right-wing studies occurred under the Obama administration, but there doesn’t seem to be a reciprocal push to study opposition resistance under the Trump administration.
This disparity of blaming only the Right for violence when it often takes two to tango has drawn comment on our pages before, but columnist David Harsanyi points out the biggest problem in the rote assignment of violence to the right wing:
To help bolster right-wing terrorist stats, for instance, we would have to perfunctorily include every anti-Semitic act. … Then there is the matter of inconsistently defining terrorism. If throwing a rock through the window of an Islamic center is an act of right-wing terrorism, why isn’t it an act of left-wing terrorism for anti-capitalists to throw rocks through the window of a business in Oregon? Surely, both fall under the description of terror, which the (Global Terrorism Database) defines as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor seeking to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.” As far as I can tell, only one of these genres actually makes the cut for the GTD.
This is what happens when reporters work backward from a predetermined premise.
Let’s also consider some of the things that the Right stands for: the Rule of Law, the Second Amendment, and Judeo-Christian values. Somehow, these principles make conservatives the bad guys, the violent terrorists, and the Left’s favorite epithet: Nazis. Yes, there are certainly a wretched few who support Donald Trump while holding noxious views toward people who don’t look, love, or worship like them. But conflating the average conservative American with the so-called alt-right is the most vicious of slanders, especially when the standard-issue liberal is (correctly) given a pass for the violence of antifa, Black Lives Matter, or other anarchist, pro-communist groups.
It’s time to start telling the truth about the perpetrators of violence — regardless of their politics.