Bryan Babb on May 21, 2022
The New York Times accused the political right of being responsible for the majority of extremist violence in the U.S. in a Tuesday newsletter, but failed to note that the majority of cited incidents were not politically motivated.
The NYT’s newsletter cited Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports to back up its assertions while not providing context on how the reports were composed. However, the ADL used many cases to build its reports where the motivation for the murders listed is not necessarily ideological, with 212 of 443 murders by extremists in the past decade were classified as “non-ideological,” according to the ADL.
“The American political right has a violence problem that has no equivalent on the left,” the newsletter reads, coming in the wake of the Buffalo mass shooting. The newsletter heavily cites multiple ADL reports of right wing extremist violence and murder over the past decade, including white supremacist violence and anti-government activist violence.
Most extremist violence in the U.S. comes from right-wing extremists, data shows.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 17, 2022
“One of the things that troubles me with the ADL/COE reports is that they simply compile statistics and then make assumptions based on those statistics,” retired FBI special agent and expert in criminal & counter-terrorism investigations Robert Chacon told TheDCNF. Chacon noted that many of the murders have an “unclear motive” because motive is not strongly looked at in many murder cases.
White supremacists killings accounted for 244 of the total 443 murders by extremists over the past decade, according to the ADL’s Murder and Extremism in the United States 2021 report, which the NYT article cites. However, the ADL noted that only 35% of the reported white supremacist killings were “ideologically motivated” and the rest were tied to “traditional criminal activities” or crimes where the motive was not clear.
For example, four alleged members of the New Mexico Aryan Brotherhood engaged in a shootout inside of a vehicle in May 2021, leaving only one survivor who was arrested on a weapons charge, according to the ADL report. This incident was added to the total accounting of extremist violence.
In another case, local white supremacist gang Fresnecks member Brandon Engelman killed another man in April 2021 “with whom he had long been feuding,” according to the ADL report. Engelman’s case was also included in the accounting of extremist murders.
“Simply because someone is a white supremacist and commits an act of violence does not mean that the act was an act of extremism or terrorism,” Chacon continued.
Chacon also said that while he understood the ADL’s “desire to be definitive in their conclusions,” he believed the data collection to be “flawed from the outset.” He noted that there is not a comprehensive suite of federal domestic terrorism laws that the cases cited by the ADL could be prosecuted under.
“Counting non-ideologically driven acts and acts such as domestic violence in these reports skew the results and could present an inaccurate conclusion,” Chacon said. The NYT using the ADL statistics without “providing the caveats and context is more than a little misleading, but that is what the public has come to expect from the NYT I’m afraid,” Chacon continued.
The Waukesha parade attack in December 2021, where Darrell Brooks drove his SUV through a Christmas parade, killing 6 people and injuring 60 more, was not included in the ADL 2021 incident report. Brooks called for violence against white people in since-deleted Facebook posts, according to the New York Post.
The New York Times newsletter comes following pro-abortion extremists’ attempt to firebomb a pro-life office in Madison, Wisconsin, on May 9. The phrase “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either,” was spray-painted onto the building.
The New York Times, the article’s author David Leonhardt and the ADL did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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