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Latest narrative deflection: Minimizing the Jihadist threat through misleading stats about “right-wing terrorists”

Latest narrative deflection: Minimizing the Jihadist threat through misleading stats about “right-wing terrorists”

Mother Jones leads the way, with Think Progress not far behind

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, a narrative on the left seems to be developing to move the focus away from terrorism connected to Islamic extremism to that of right-wing extremism.

Not surprisingly, the narrative is also being directed from one of weapons of mass destruction (which includes explosive devices) to guns.

Mere days after the tragic events in Boston, Mother Jones published an article titled “Charts: How Much Danger Do We Face From Homegrown Jihadist Terrorists?”  The charts illustrate data from a New America Foundation report and are intended to imply that right wing terrorists in the United States are a greater threat than Islamist terrorists.

While America has been fixated on the threat of Islamic terrorism for more than a decade, all but a few domestic terror plots have failed. Between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2012, there were no successful bomb plots by jihadist terrorists in the United States.

Jihadists killed 17 people in the United States in four separate incidents during this time, according to data collected by journalist Peter Bergen and the New America Foundation. All four of these incidents involved guns, including Nidal Hassan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, which killed 13 people. In contrast, right-wing extremists killed 29 people during those 11 years.


In examining both the charts and the data, a few points in particular caught my attention.

First, one has nothing to do with the other.  That there may be other types of threats does not alter the treat level from Jihadists.  It’s the “look, Squirrel” strategy we have seen repeatedly since the Boston bombings.

Second, by any count the majority of indictments have been for Jihadist plots, out-numbering all other arrests combined according to the study relied upon by Mother Jones:

At least 380 people were indicted on terrorism-related charges in the United States between September 11, 2001 and December 31 2012.

207 of those people are identified as “jihadist” terrorists, and they subscribe broadly to the ideology of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.

Because we have been better — until recently — at preventing Jihadist attacks does not mean that the threat is any less.  Just think about how many hundreds of deaths would occurred if the explosives carried by the Shoe Bomber and Underwear Bomber had detonated properly.

Mother Jones confuses threats with success.  The Jihadist threat outweighs all others.

Third, it’s also clear that Mother Jones misuses the term “right-wing” to include all manner of people who have nothing to do with the political right in America, a tactic common to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

When illustrating “right wing terrorists,” what exactly about them classifies them as “right wing”?  To delve just a little bit deeper into this query, I took a look at the data.  Allow me to provide just a few the report has classified as “Deadly Rightwing Terror Attacks.”  Each is followed by my brief notes on the background of those names and corresponding attacks.

  • James Von Brunn, a white supremacist and Holocaust denier who shot up the Holocaust Memorial, was idolized as a hero by commenters on the white supremacist website Stormfront, helping to earn him a classification as a hateful right-winger by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
  • Keith Luke, a white supremacist and anti-Semite who complained to arresting officers about a “Zionist occupation” and “the demise of the white race” after committing the Brockton shooting spree in Massachusetts.  This, and his neo-Nazi rants, also landed him on the SPLC’s website as a right-winger.
  • Robert Andrew Poplawski, who fired upon people on a Pittsburgh street, while having made statements about fearing his gun rights would be infringed upon by Obama, also told a friend that “Zionists were controlling the media and controlling our freedom of speech.”  He was described as a white supremacist and frequented the Stormfront website.  This prompted his listing as a right-winger at SPLC.  Mark Potok of SPLC described Poplawsi: “he believed the Jews were coming, the Jews controlled society, you know, we’re all under the thumb of Zionists and so on.”  As a matter of fact, a search for “Poplawski” yielded no less than 21 results at the SPLC website.
  • Joshua Cartwright, who shot 2 police officers dead at a shooting range after they responded to a domestic violence call from his wife.  But because his wife said that he “believed that the US Government was conspiring against him…and had been severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President,” this earned him a “rightwing terrorist” classification.  It also gained him his own page at the SPLC website as hating right-winger.
  • Andrew Joseph Stack, who committed suicide by crashing his small plane into an Austin IRS building, left behind rantings that railed not only on the IRS, but the Catholic Church, George Bush and companies like Enron and Arthur Andersen.  His actions were infamously and incorrectly blamed on the Tea Party.  Not surprisingly, SPLC cited his anti-government rants in classifying him as “radical right” and made sure to call out Stormfront’s idolization of Stack as indicative of him being right-wing.
  • Wade Michael Page, who fatally assaulted a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, had ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.  While SPLC even admits at its site that Page’s motive was not known, it didn’t stop them from giving him his own listing as a hater from the right-wing.
  • Terry Lyn Smith, who shot and killed two sheriff’s deputies near New Orleans, hated law enforcement and belonged to a movement that “refused to acknowledge the government’s legal sovereignty over him.”  Despite the fact that he and another man were on the FBI’s domestic terrorism watch list and were linked to an anarchist movement, SPLC again classifies them instead as hateful right-wingers.

Have you noticed a pattern in these examples?

They are the opposite of the political right in America.

From a political standpoint, “right wingers” are typically Republicans and Conservatives.  I don’t know many Republicans and Conservatives who deny the Holocaust, despise Israel and Jews and fear that Jews control everything, or are white supremacists and/or neo-Nazis.  Nor do I know many who are anarchists.  Is Occupy Wall Street right-wing?

This is the abuse of the term “right-wing” described by Phillip Klein:

So, the reason why conservatives get irked when “right wing” is used in reference to major acts of violence — often without an iota of evidence to back it up — is that the term “right wing” is broadly applied by the media to the entire conservative movement. I don’t think “right-wing” Jennifer Rubin and Sheldon Adelson get pumped every April for Hilter’s birthday, that  “right-wing think tanks” like the Heritage Foundation burst out the champagne on the Columbine anniversary, or that “right-wing rock star” Scott Walker is a big fan of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Recently, Think Progress echoed the same sentiments as Mother Jones, also just days after the Boston Marathon bombings.  The website cites the 2009 Department of Homeland Security report – the one that was withdrawn for its disingenuous and non-specific classification of “right-wing extremism” – as its source.

It would appear that the classification of “right-wing terrorist” is largely an arbitrary one done to minimize the Jihadist threat.

It seems the left is trying its best, not surprisingly, to reset the narrative.


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rabid wombat | April 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

Why not pick any random date – say, December 13, 1959, or February 7, 1926. My guess is the graph would skew slightly. Likewise, compare the graph to the number shot in Chicago any given weekend. How about the number of drownings in private swimming pools?

I wonder if this kind of thing is being used to scare wobbly Jewish voters into remaining Democrat.

There is virtually no “right wing” terrorism in the United States. Jew hating National Socialists are not conservatives, communists are not conservatives, and anarchists (as the term is used in practice) are not conservatives.

In fact, they are all on the left side of the political divide. Hell, the current president of the United States is the protege of one of America’s most infamous terrorists – though it turns out Bill Ayers is more competent at politics then he was at bomb making…

Oh, and one more point – if someone has the time and resources, it would probably be of value to produce an actual list of terrorists and their victim counts by political ideology. Say from 2000 on.

You’d see Islam dwarfing everything else – but I’d be interested to see how many communists, environuts, and the rest were arrested since then…

Could they have at least TRIED to be subtle with their choice of dates?

Good post. How about what we also just look at what Islamic terrorists are doing around the world.

It would appear that anyone who is white supremacist is labeled “right wing”, nevermind that this has nothing to do with political party affiliation (and if it did, we should recognize the Democrat party origins.)

Why use post 911 statistics?

Put those 3000+ numbers up there, Mother Jones.

Liberals are desperate. Their memes fail public’s smell tests constantly.

As Wayne LaPierre stated, regarding the failed gun bill, Obama bit off more than he can chew.

Sarah Palin, George W Bush, and the NRA all enjoy higher public approval ratings than does Barack Obama.

When the public is focused on a subject, they can determine for themselves what the facts are and who is BS’ing.

As a metric, I find myself laughing and amused constantly as I tweet away in political battle. That is a far cry from my concerns over the previous four years.

It’s fun to see liberals on the run.

Every year in America, since the advent of “reproductive rights”, around one million men (e.g. Barack Obama) and women (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) are murdered in their mother’s womb. The left-wing sponsored genocide, albeit elective, is the greatest violation of the basic human right to life ever committed. The only comparable genocide was committed by left-wing fanatics in the twentieth century in their pursuit to consolidate capital and control under the systems of communism, socialism, and fascism.

There is blood on people’s hands, but it is left-wing ideologues who are inundated.

As for Islam, the faith is often realized through the establishment of left-wing regimes. The worst or most pervasive violation of human and civil rights is committed under the imperial or trans-national form; although, the national and tribal forms are also often regressive. They still tolerate, if not perhaps officially, institutional and generational slavery, individual discrimination, etc.

If the contemporary Left wants to retain even a semblance of credibility, they need to moderate their selective principles. Their environmentalism is fanatical, does not protect the environment, and dispossesses the most vulnerable. Their redistributive change protocol is corrupt and denies individual dignity. Their population control regimes are regressive and have been the cause of the greatest loss of human life the world has ever known.

As for what constitutes right-wing in America, or more correctly the center or norm, an individual has to adhere to the principles and constraints set forth in our national charter, The Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution, which are derived as a hybrid of classical liberalism and Judeo-Christian philosophy.

Anyway, Left, Right, or whatever, it’s just a perpetual tribal feud. I wonder who will win the latest conflict. I prefer the principles engendered by the “Right”, because they are more likely to respect individual dignity and preserve the value of human life. They are also founded on the observation that it is competing interests (i.e. diversity) which keep the honest people honest and others from running amuck. With this it may be possible to control progressive corruption and avoid a dysfunctional convergence.

There will be a convergence as both physical and virtual isolation are no longer practical. The Left is leading through corruption and dysfunction wrapped in promises of material, physical, and ego instant (or immediate) gratification without perceived consequences. It is an emotional appealing dream, which reality has seen fit will never be fulfilled in equal measure.

Anyway, good luck to my tribe. The actions of individuals are their own responsibility. A philosophy can only serve to promote but not guarantee an outcome. It is only proper to judge a philosophy (or faith) by the principles it engenders.

“Have you noticed a pattern in these examples?”

The splc is full of ignorant traitorous scumbags? Not exactly a “pattern” but . . . .

Just because naziism is a pubic hair to the right of communism . . . .

I would equate them to vultures fighting over a rotting carcass but I’m hesitant to disparage vultures.

theduchessofkitty | April 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

“17 people killed by Islamic terrorists”

Hey, MJ,

Of course you don’t want to count the Granddaddy of them all: September 11, 2001, with 2996 victims.

That counter has no mercy towards you.

Phillep Harding | April 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Most (all?) violent “rightwingers” are lefty groups competing with the mainstream lefty loons. A bit like NAZIs and USSR based communists.

Corey Mondello | April 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

“Right Wing” covers anything that is on the Right side if the political spectrum. This includes; Republicans and Conservatives. Trying to say NAZI is “left” is like saying FOX news didn’t get the legal right to lie and still call it news even if the information could harm someone, thanks to the Right Wing US Supreme Court in 2003, (which they actually were given the legal right to lie by the Right Wing US Supreme Court in 2003)! The reason why the term “Right Wing” is used is because it accurately describes the ideology of Conservatives and Republicans. It is actually the use of negative terms to describe someone on the “Left”. For example; most Red States actually pay less in taxes than Blue States, yet they get more from the Government that Blue States. But how can that be? How can a state considered Red and Republican/Conservative utilize Socialism so frequently? Socialism is considered “Left” by most people. Well thanks to lies uneducated Americans believe, many have been fooled. Saddest part of all is “Right Wing” or Conservative ideology has never helped anyone other than the law makers. “We the People” is NOT a “Right Wing” idea either. Get educated !

Mother Jones Magazine has a soft spot for terrorists and tyrants, as long as they are left-wing. (Excepting Stormfront style national socialists, with an exception to that exception being Castro’s regime.)

We need to be more ‘jihadist’ ourselves in pushback against these figgin lunatics.

It’ll come.