The U.S. has a problem with extremism. But it might not be the kind you're thinking of.
In terms of sheer numbers of attacks in the U.S. over the last decade, one group in particular should stand out to you.
11 worshippers shot and killed in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh by a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs. 14 pipe bombs at the doors of leading Democratic politicians and donors, and CNN. Two black customers shot in a grocery store in Kentucky by a white man after he failed to make it inside a predominantly black church minutes before. All within the last two weeks.
White supremacist and other forms of right-wing violence are currently the deadliest active domestic extremist movements in the U.S., according to data from several civil rights groups that track hate crimes and extremist violence.
Southern Poverty Law Center is one of those groups. We spoke with the center's Heidi Beirich, who's been following extremist movements for almost two decades, to help break it all down.
Let's just start with the numbers.
Over the last decade, right-wing extremists committed more than 70% of extremist-related murders, according to a report published earlier this year by the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism. The Government Accountability Office similarly reported in 2017 that right-wing extremists were responsible for 73% of fatal extremist incidents since 9/11. The most common groups victimized by these extremists are those who are black, Hispanic, or part of a multi-racial couple or family.
It's important to note that right-wing domestic extremism is an umbrella term under which various right-wing ideologies fall in the U.S. Crimes committed by people who are anti-government, anti-semitic, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and fascist, among other things, also fall under this category.
But of all the sub groups that fall under right-wing domestic extremism, white supremacists have committed the most attacks in recent years, like the Charleston church shooting and Charlottesville attack.
When we talk about terrorism at the Southern Poverty Law Center, we're talking about white supremacy, and what I mean by that is somebody who believes the white race is literally better than all the other races, and these folks usually believe that the United States should be what they call a white ethnostate.