People will believe anything these days. Luckily we have facts to keep our opinions in check. Or do we?
Between the president of America’s sustained assault on the validity of media in the eyes of the Alt Right (anyone who questions him is “fake news” or “biased” or lousy at their jobs) and the fact that most of us glean what’s happening in the world from social media now (a den of unchecked opinion), facts are falling through the cracks.
Anger is mounting. Social media is dividing us into camps. We’re shouting at each other. It’s becoming apparent there are more truly ignorant people than we thought. That’s not an insult, but a correct use of the word ignorant: ignorant people have uneducated opinions about things, and twenty years ago, they would have sat in silence with their misinformed ignorance and hatred. Their home was a tomb, keeping their sentiments enclosed from the world. Today, thanks to social media and the internet, these people have their poorly informed opinions validated, when they find others just like them online.
But others agreeing with you about something, doesn’t mean you’re right. For that, you need facts and figures, to corroborate your presumptions. Which is why it’s perplexing to observe that those who hate the hardest, do so without fact.
Vice News had a reporter follow a self-proclaimed white supremacist from the start to the end of the protests in Virginia. He expressed hatred, and intended violence against Jews and blacks, and falsely claimed Muslims are responsible for more terrorist acts in the USA than anyone.
But here are some statistics, formerly known as facts: Donald Trump would save more American lives by focussing on angry white Americans. Recently, the Center for Investigative Reporting examined the 201 incidents designated as acts of terrorism on American soil, between 2008 to 2016. They revealed a fact: Extremist Right Wingers are more active than Muslim Terrorists.
It’s right there in the numbers. “Right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents.” 63 Muslim attacks versus 115 White American ones (which were typically from white supremacist groups). So Trump’s focus — or really, North American’s focus — on extremist Islamic Terrorists is a legitimate hindrance on hate crime prevention. For example, had extremist Muslims asked to march down a street together in Virginia, you know police would’ve been there from the start.
In the aforementioned Vice News coverage, a white supremacist showed a reporter all of his guns, and expressed his desire to hurt fellow Americans. Can you imagine a Muslim showing an American reporter guns, and promising violence? He’d have been thrown in jail or executed by now.
This aforementioned study found that police were able to prevent 76% of Islamist incidents versus just 35% of the right-wing extremist incidents. That equates to 65% of Alt Right White acts of violence going unprevented because we’re ignoring the seriousness of their threat.
As an example, in May, Richard Collins III, a black U.S. Army second lieutenant, was murdered in Maryland by a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” Two days later, a white supremacist wielding a knife killed another black US veteran, and a 23-year-old recent university graduate, when they asked this man to stop harassing a Muslim woman on a train in Portland. If a Muslim man murdered 2 whites protecting a white woman, it’d have been on every news outlet for days.
The New America Foundation has been tracking deadly terror incidents on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks, and found a near 2:1 ratio of white to Muslim terrorism; For every Muslim extremist terrorist attack, there are 2 alt right terrorist hate crimes on US soil.
Around the time self-identified white supremacist Dylann Roof killed 9 people near their church, the Assistant Attorney General established a new position in the agency solely dedicated to addressing “homegrown terrorism.”
In January 2016, he stated that white supremacists have planned attacks on “government buildings, businesses, synagogues,” and to stockpile illegal weapons, including explosive biological and chemical weapons for killing sprees.
“Just like with international terrorism,” he said, “You see people being radicalised.” So it makes sense to prevent the radicalization of white people by white supremacists, right? Well, tell that to Trump.
During the transition of Obama to Trump, there were 30-something pending grants from Homeland Security earmarked to various organizations that help curb terrorism. Trump only cancelled one of those grants. The one for Life After Hate, a group that helps people safely exit white supremacist groups. Life After Hate was experiencing a serious spike in pleas for help at the time of this slashing.
While the President blasts NATO and the UN for not doing enough against “terrorists in the middle east,” what exactly is he doing about the terrorists on his own soil? He’s ignoring it, which is allowing it to happen.
Ignorance of fact, begets ignorance of opinion. To quote Karen Greenberg, Executive Director of the Center on National Security, “If you are looking to create a fact-based policy for making the country secure against terrorism, focusing on immigrants will not provide the answer.”
Focussing on senseless violence stemming from senseless hate seems a sensible way of curbing hate crimes. So get your head out of your ass and into a study or two, Trump. Before any more of your people get hurt, and before you launch any more boneheaded policies and press conferences.
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