Being gay, I've experienced discrimination first hand and had threats of violence screamed at me. I've also been harassed by police officers who found tormenting "the faggot" to be great sport. None of this abuse has come from what those on the right derisively call "liberals." As a result, I am all too aware of the dangers of right wingers who hold contempt for anyone they perceive to be "different" or "other." Disturbingly, statistics document that those on the right are increasing feeling at liberty to put their contempt and hatred into action through violence against others. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the growing right wing violence which experts suggest is being legitimized by Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. Indeed, Trump's order for refugee mothers and children to be tear gassed yesterday along the Mexico border will likely further embolden those already consumed with hatred. What is perhaps most frightening is that increasingly no one is safe from potential right wing violence since too often the targets are selected at random. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can cost one their life, especially given America's insane gun laws that make it all too easy for extremists to arm themselves. Here are highlights from the Post article:
As a Republican, Mitchell Adkins complained of feeling like an outcast at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. “Hardcore liberals” made fun of him, he wrote, and he faced “discrimination on a daily basis.” He soon dropped out and enrolled in trade school.
But his simmering rage led him back to campus one morning in April 2017, when Adkins pulled out a machete in the campus coffee shop, demanded that patrons state their political affiliation and began slashing at Democrats.
“There was never any ambiguity about why he did it,” said Tristan Reynolds, 22, a witness to the attack, which left two women injured.
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, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. 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 Trump took office.
This year has been especially deadly. Just last month, 13 people died in two incidents: A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, police say, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.
While Trump has blasted Democrats as “an angry left-wing mob” and the “party of crime,” researchers have identified just one fatal attack in 2018 that may have been motivated by left-wing ideologies.
The uptick in right-wing terrorism comes amid a renewed national focus on hate-driven violence. The Anti-Defamation League documented a 57 percent surge in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, especially at schools and on college campuses. Meanwhile, FBI statistics released this monthshow reported hate crimes jumped 17 percent last year.Terrorism researchers say right-wing violence sprouted alongside white anxiety about Obama’s presidency and has accelerated in the Trump era. Trump and his aides have continuously denied that he has contributed to the rise in violence. But experts say right-wing extremists perceive the president as offering them tacit support for their cause.
After the violence in Charlottesville, for example, Trump asserted that “both sides” were equally to blame and that there were “some very fine people” among the far-right demonstrators, many of whom wore “Make America Great Again” caps while chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.
More recently, Trump rallied crowds in the run-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections with incendiary rhetoric about Muslims and immigrants, . . . .
“If you have politicians saying things like our nation is under attack, that there are these marauding bands of immigrants coming into the country, that plays into this right-wing narrative. They begin to think it’s okay to use violence,” said Gary LaFree, criminology chairman at the University of Maryland and founding director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START.
Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, . . . “The current political rhetoric is at least enabling, and certainly not discouraging, violence,” Figliuzzi said.
The results show that unlike the turbulent 1970s, when environmental, antiwar and other left-wing groups were responsible for historically high rates of terrorism in the United States, today’s attackers are far more likely to have right-wing sympathies.
Joshua D. Freilich, a criminologist at John Jay College and co-director of the Extremist Crime Database, an open-source database of violent and financial crimes committed by political extremists, said that right-wing attacks not only happen more often but also are more likely to result in fatalities than left-wing attacks.
Stacey Hervey, a criminologist at the Metropolitan State University of Denver who has studied radicalization, said the attackers generally fit one of three archetypes: thrill-seekers, such as teenagers who paint swastikas on the sides of buildings; reactive attackers, who lash out suddenly at perceived enemies; and mission-oriented attackers, who aim to send a specific message or achieve a certain political goal.
Even more menacing, Hervey said, are the mission-oriented attacks. The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was the deadliest act of anti-Semitic terror in the United States since an April 2014 shooting rampage by Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a former KKK member and white supremacist who has been sentenced to die for killing three people at a Jewish Community Center and a Jewish retirement home in suburban Kansas City, Kan.
“When politicians speak and talk the politics of hate and division, people who don’t know us see us as an enemy,” Omar said. “These three guys came all the way from a small town in Illinois to throw a bomb at people they never met.”