A Year Of Right-Wing Terrorism
Exploring the recent sharp rise in extreme right-wing violence
By: Callum Leemkuil-Schuerman
2018 has been a violent year. A Florida man was arrested for mailing pipe bombs to a number of Democrat-affiliated figures, including Barack Obama, George Soros, and Maxine Waters. Another man, immediately after trying and failing to enter a black church, murdered two Black men in a grocery store in Kentucky. Yet another man murdered 11 people during a bris in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and continued to shout about murdering Jewish people while he was arrested. Even more disturbingly, all of these incidents of horrific violence occurred within one week of each other.
Something is rotten in the heart of America. The Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic hate crimes increased nearly 60 percent from 2016 to 2017, and as this happens, views that once were consigned to the dark fringes of the Internet have become fully mainstream. Take, for example, Iowa Congressman Steve King, who has made such statements as “we can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies.” King’s rhetoric is indistinguishable from that of right-wing terrorists – Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh synagogue mass-murderer, was an adherent of a conspiracy theory that Jewish people are seeking to “replace” white Americans with the children of migrants and refugees.
It is inaccurate to say that these actions and attitudes ever went away; they have always existed on the fringes of American society. The deadliest homegrown terrorist attack in American history – an attack with a homemade fertilizer bomb on a government building that killed 168 – was carried out by a right-wing white nationalist in 1994. Now, to look at footage of President Donald Trump telling people at his campaign rallies to be violent or to hear hosts on Fox News talk about George Soros and migrant caravans is to realize that this is now the new normal in right-wing American politics, making it impossible not to imagine things getting worse.