Extremism is Not Just a Problem on the Right

CNN host Don Lemon got into hot water lately for making the seemingly contradictory statement “So we have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.”

Instead of walking this “extremist rhetoric” and “hate speech” back, Lemon doubled down about how “home-grown” terror and “right-wing extremists” were the biggest threat to America.

There is, of course, no question that there is a danger from rightwing extremists. In the wake of the mail bombs and horrifying anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue no one denies that. However, many on the left are simply trying to paint anyone to the right of Paul Ryan as a potential terrorist. Howard Dean, for example, stated that the online Twitter-competitor Gab “should be tried for being an accomplice to murder” because the Tree of Life shooter had an account there.

Lemon used two flawed studies to bolster his claims, both of which don’t even show what he says they show. The first, by the ADL, claimed that between 2007 and 2016 there were 372 people killed from domestic terrorists. The breakdown of the perpetrator’s ideology was as follows:

  • Islamic Extremists: 24%
  • Left-Wing Extremists: 2%
  • Right-Wing Extremists: 74%

Before we analyze this study, we should note that both the left and the right make way too much out of terrorism. Yes, they are big stories that grab a lot of attention. But according to this, there were 37 people killed each year in the United States from domestic terrorist attacks. In contrast, approximately 150 to 200 Americans die from peanuts each year. (The same could be said for mass shootings in general. Mother Jones notes there were 860 killings in 105 mass shootings between 1982 and 2018; in other words, there were 23.9 deaths per year from mass shootings.)

The next problem is that Lemon doesn’t appear to know what “per capita” means. Muslims make up 1.1% of the American population; meaning that even if these statistics were correct, Islamic extremism would be overrepresented by over 2000%! (Although, again, the number of deaths by Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11 is still a low number.)

But the statistics are not correct and the ADL has even refused to release the source data. How do I know they are not correct? Well, if only 2% of 372 killings were from left-wing extremists, that would mean there were only six or seven killed by left-wing extremists between 2007 and 2016. Well, let’s count:

  • In 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers in Dallas as a politically-motivated act of retribution against the police.
  • In 2016, Gavin Long killed three police officers in Baton Rouge.
  • Also in 2016, Frederick Scott killed six white men in Kansas City to satiate his delusions of a race-war and desire to “kill all white people”

Well, there’s 14 right there from 2016 alone.

And for 2017, we could add Emmanuel Samson, who shot up a church in Tennessee to avenge the killings by Dylan Roof. He murdered one and injured seven more before being stopped by an usher with a gun. And of course, we can’t forget James Hodgkinson, who shot congressman Steve Scalise and tried to kill multiple Republican congressmen and senators. Hodgkinson, I should note, had an active account on Facebook and was radicalized by the likes of Rachel Maddow. I have heard no calls to prosecute Mark Zuckerberg or Rachel Maddow.

The other report Lemon cites is from the GAO that, according to Lemon, notes that “the vast majority of deadly attacks in this country from 2001 to 2016 were carried out by far-right violent extremists.” (I assume he means between September 12th, 2001 and 2016, of course.) It concluded that “far-right plots and attacks outnumber Islamist incidents by almost 2 to 1.”

Again Don, what does “per capita” mean?

There are certainly some legitimate cases of right-wing extremists in this report, but other murders recorded as “terrorist attacks” appear to be pushing it. Here are a few examples:

“White supremacist and associate killed a child molester”

“White supremacist murdered his stepfather to gain ‘street cred’”

“White supremacist murdered a convicted sex offender”

“Prison gang white supremacists murdered another inmate for not objecting to having an African American cellmate”

Even the GAO report shows that more people were killed by Jihadist attacks than right-wing ones (119 to 106). But then the report goes on to produce this spectacular falsehood: “There were no attacks since 1990 by persons associated with extreme leftist ideologies that resulted in fatalities to non-perpetrators.”

At the absolute minimum, the families of five dead police officers in Dallas would beg to differ.

Overcounting right-wing terrorist attacks while not mentioning left-wing ones seems to be par for the course these days. For example, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report stating that “The Alt Right is Killing People.” The report lists a smorgasbord of mass shooters, few of whom were clearly “Alt Right” other than Dylan Roof. Elliot Rodgers was certainly a misogynist, but he didn’t appear particularly concerned about racial purity.

For example, the SPLC counts Jeremy Joseph Christian, who stabbed to death two men after they intervened while he was harassing a Muslim woman. The problem with the SPLC’s analysis is that Christian hated all religions and was a Bernie Sanders supporter -- i.e. a left-wing terrorist, if anything.

They also count Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people in Oregon. Mercer supposedly had white supremacist leanings despite being mixed race. Yet his hate was primarily directed at Christians. He asked those who were Christians to stand up and then went down the line shooting each of them. Anti-Christian terrorism is left-wing terrorism if anything, so Mercer doesn’t fit. Jared Loughner, who killed six people and shot congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, listed Ayn Rand and George Orwell novels along with Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto amongst his favorite books -- a communist, Nazi libertarian terrorist… or something.

Devin Kelly, who killed 26 people in Texas, hated religion in general and Christianity in particular. Yet, despite shooting up a church and being “a militant atheist”, the authorities said an argument with his mother-in-law was what led him to shoot up a church that his mother-in-law was not even attending.

Historically speaking, terrorism was much more associated with the left than any other political or religious movement. In Russia, for example, between the failed revolution of 1905 and the October Revolution of 1917, some estimates go as high as 17,000 people being killed by left-wing terrorism!

Prior to the onset of Islamic terrorism, a 2001 report from the Department of Energy found that,

“From an international perspective, of the 13,858 people who died between 1988 and 1998 in attacks committed by the 10 most active terrorist groups in the world, 74 percent were killed by leftist organizations.”

And this terrorism made its way to the United States with all sorts of organizations like the Weather Underground or the Symbionese Liberation Army. As retired FBI agent Mark Noel observed, “People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States.”

I should also point out that President William McKinley was assassinated by a left-wing anarchist and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a communist.

Today we have the low-level hum of constant, not-as-of-yet fatal terrorism from the likes of Antifa as they attack random Trump supporters, or #NeverTrumpers, or a Bernie Sanders supporter who dared to carry the American flag or veterans in wheelchairs.

Don Lemon and others on the left want to paint political extremism as a product of the right and only the right. This is completely false and will likely be used to justify more censorship of libertarian and conservative speech while simultaneously further radicalizing the far left. While it is critical for conservatives to call out extremism within its own ranks, it is just as important not to let the Left successfully promote this false narrative.

CNN host Don Lemon got into hot water lately for making the seemingly contradictory statement “So we have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.”

Instead of walking this “extremist rhetoric” and “hate speech” back, Lemon doubled down about how “home-grown” terror and “right-wing extremists” were the biggest threat to America.

There is, of course, no question that there is a danger from rightwing extremists. In the wake of the mail bombs and horrifying anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue no one denies that. However, many on the left are simply trying to paint anyone to the right of Paul Ryan as a potential terrorist. Howard Dean, for example, stated that the online Twitter-competitor Gab “should be tried for being an accomplice to murder” because the Tree of Life shooter had an account there.

Lemon used two flawed studies to bolster his claims, both of which don’t even show what he says they show. The first, by the ADL, claimed that between 2007 and 2016 there were 372 people killed from domestic terrorists. The breakdown of the perpetrator’s ideology was as follows:

  • Islamic Extremists: 24%
  • Left-Wing Extremists: 2%
  • Right-Wing Extremists: 74%

Before we analyze this study, we should note that both the left and the right make way too much out of terrorism. Yes, they are big stories that grab a lot of attention. But according to this, there were 37 people killed each year in the United States from domestic terrorist attacks. In contrast, approximately 150 to 200 Americans die from peanuts each year. (The same could be said for mass shootings in general. Mother Jones notes there were 860 killings in 105 mass shootings between 1982 and 2018; in other words, there were 23.9 deaths per year from mass shootings.)

The next problem is that Lemon doesn’t appear to know what “per capita” means. Muslims make up 1.1% of the American population; meaning that even if these statistics were correct, Islamic extremism would be overrepresented by over 2000%! (Although, again, the number of deaths by Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11 is still a low number.)

But the statistics are not correct and the ADL has even refused to release the source data. How do I know they are not correct? Well, if only 2% of 372 killings were from left-wing extremists, that would mean there were only six or seven killed by left-wing extremists between 2007 and 2016. Well, let’s count:

  • In 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers in Dallas as a politically-motivated act of retribution against the police.
  • In 2016, Gavin Long killed three police officers in Baton Rouge.
  • Also in 2016, Frederick Scott killed six white men in Kansas City to satiate his delusions of a race-war and desire to “kill all white people”

Well, there’s 14 right there from 2016 alone.

And for 2017, we could add Emmanuel Samson, who shot up a church in Tennessee to avenge the killings by Dylan Roof. He murdered one and injured seven more before being stopped by an usher with a gun. And of course, we can’t forget James Hodgkinson, who shot congressman Steve Scalise and tried to kill multiple Republican congressmen and senators. Hodgkinson, I should note, had an active account on Facebook and was radicalized by the likes of Rachel Maddow. I have heard no calls to prosecute Mark Zuckerberg or Rachel Maddow.

The other report Lemon cites is from the GAO that, according to Lemon, notes that “the vast majority of deadly attacks in this country from 2001 to 2016 were carried out by far-right violent extremists.” (I assume he means between September 12th, 2001 and 2016, of course.) It concluded that “far-right plots and attacks outnumber Islamist incidents by almost 2 to 1.”

Again Don, what does “per capita” mean?

There are certainly some legitimate cases of right-wing extremists in this report, but other murders recorded as “terrorist attacks” appear to be pushing it. Here are a few examples:

“White supremacist and associate killed a child molester”

“White supremacist murdered his stepfather to gain ‘street cred’”

“White supremacist murdered a convicted sex offender”

“Prison gang white supremacists murdered another inmate for not objecting to having an African American cellmate”

Even the GAO report shows that more people were killed by Jihadist attacks than right-wing ones (119 to 106). But then the report goes on to produce this spectacular falsehood: “There were no attacks since 1990 by persons associated with extreme leftist ideologies that resulted in fatalities to non-perpetrators.”

At the absolute minimum, the families of five dead police officers in Dallas would beg to differ.

Overcounting right-wing terrorist attacks while not mentioning left-wing ones seems to be par for the course these days. For example, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report stating that “The Alt Right is Killing People.” The report lists a smorgasbord of mass shooters, few of whom were clearly “Alt Right” other than Dylan Roof. Elliot Rodgers was certainly a misogynist, but he didn’t appear particularly concerned about racial purity.

For example, the SPLC counts Jeremy Joseph Christian, who stabbed to death two men after they intervened while he was harassing a Muslim woman. The problem with the SPLC’s analysis is that Christian hated all religions and was a Bernie Sanders supporter -- i.e. a left-wing terrorist, if anything.

They also count Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people in Oregon. Mercer supposedly had white supremacist leanings despite being mixed race. Yet his hate was primarily directed at Christians. He asked those who were Christians to stand up and then went down the line shooting each of them. Anti-Christian terrorism is left-wing terrorism if anything, so Mercer doesn’t fit. Jared Loughner, who killed six people and shot congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, listed Ayn Rand and George Orwell novels along with Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto amongst his favorite books -- a communist, Nazi libertarian terrorist… or something.

Devin Kelly, who killed 26 people in Texas, hated religion in general and Christianity in particular. Yet, despite shooting up a church and being “a militant atheist”, the authorities said an argument with his mother-in-law was what led him to shoot up a church that his mother-in-law was not even attending.

Historically speaking, terrorism was much more associated with the left than any other political or religious movement. In Russia, for example, between the failed revolution of 1905 and the October Revolution of 1917, some estimates go as high as 17,000 people being killed by left-wing terrorism!

Prior to the onset of Islamic terrorism, a 2001 report from the Department of Energy found that,

“From an international perspective, of the 13,858 people who died between 1988 and 1998 in attacks committed by the 10 most active terrorist groups in the world, 74 percent were killed by leftist organizations.”

And this terrorism made its way to the United States with all sorts of organizations like the Weather Underground or the Symbionese Liberation Army. As retired FBI agent Mark Noel observed, “People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States.”

I should also point out that President William McKinley was assassinated by a left-wing anarchist and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a communist.

Today we have the low-level hum of constant, not-as-of-yet fatal terrorism from the likes of Antifa as they attack random Trump supporters, or #NeverTrumpers, or a Bernie Sanders supporter who dared to carry the American flag or veterans in wheelchairs.

Don Lemon and others on the left want to paint political extremism as a product of the right and only the right. This is completely false and will likely be used to justify more censorship of libertarian and conservative speech while simultaneously further radicalizing the far left. While it is critical for conservatives to call out extremism within its own ranks, it is just as important not to let the Left successfully promote this false narrative.