I confess that I was for a bit too long skeptical about the threat of right-wing terrorism.
The president’s continued encouragement of violence — and of white nationalism — is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing. Funny how that works.
“Violent talk can, at minimum, encourage lone-wolf violence … It can also slowly normalize political violence, turning discourse and ideas that were once unsayable and even unthinkable into things that are sayable and thinkable.”
These risks are not just hypothetical. In 2017, a House candidate body-slammed a reporter who asked a probing question — behavior with no recent precedent. Trump praised the now-congressman, Greg Gianforte, for the assault.
Not all attacks come from people who identify with the political right, obviously … [b]ut most politically motivated attacks do indeed come from the right. Last year, 39 of the 50 extremist killings tracked by the A.D.L. were committed by white supremacists, and another eight were committed by killers espousing anti-government views.
Since 9/11, Muslim children have been taunted as “terrorists.” Over the past three years, since President Trump campaigned on a promise to “ban” Muslims from entering the country and then enacted a court-challenged travel ban that bars people from some majority-Muslim countries, many have grown increasingly concerned. By Friday, some said their nerves were so jangled that they feared returning to their mosques.
Ali blamed Trump for shifting the culture, and he said acts of hatred are not just aimed at Muslims — the fatal shooting of 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October also sprang from the same bias. “There’s a climate of hate that has been nurtured by the president all the way down. We saw it against Jews,” he said. “There’s a cost to this rhetoric of hate. The cost is 49 people who went to Friday prayer.”
Michelle Boorstein, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Alexandra Baumhardt and Julie Zauzmer, American Muslims anxiously consider security needs at mosques after New Zealand shooting
What can we do about all this? In the face of all the hatred, the violence, and the enabling digital technology, it is easy to feel helpless. But some things can be done. To begin with, as Simon Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, argued in a recent analysis, politicians from all parties, the President included, need to openly acknowledge the scale of the threat represented by right-wing terrorism, and to commit to tackling it in a number of different ways. One obvious step is to beef up the law-enforcement resources devoted to tracking right-wing extremism and investigating possible plots to carry out threats. In addition, the Trump Administration “needs to understand how overheated rhetoric—including the president’s own words—can lead to violence,” Clark wrote.
John Cassidy, It’s Time to Confront the Threat of Right-Wing Terrorism