Since the Charleston shooting, media outlets have used the violent act to agitate for gun control, banish Confederate flags and smear conservatives. The New York Times did this last week and again this morning with Scott Shane’s article, “Homegrown Radicals More Deadly Than Jihadis in U.S.”
While Shane primarily avoided using the term “right-wing,” he linked to the New America foundation study that calls these acts of “homegrown” extremism, “Deadly right-wing attacks.” Shane isn’t the first one to cite the New America study; CNN has used it multiple times and The Times itself wrote a similar article just last week.
This study has a lot of problems the media conveniently gloss over. For instance, the study does not include the number of prevented terrorist attacks each year, nor the increasing number of American ISIS sympathizers who the FBI have arrested before they could enact their violent plans (70 in this year alone). It also doesn’t count the thousands killed on 9-11.
That’s not even close to all that’s wrong with the New America study. The tally includes nebulous examples that hardly fit as “right-wing.” For example, Shane includes an example from the study of an anarchist couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement and killed two police officers. New America labeled them "right-wing" but their political activism was all over the place. It hardly fell into the realm of "right wing" and definitely was not conservative.
Along those lines, another cop killer in the study, Curtis Wade Holley, had shown resistance to cops in the past, grown marijuana in his backyard and refused to leave after being evicted. He told his wife at the time that he would go down with a fight if he was evicted, and then set his house on fire after the landlord shut off his utilities. When police arrived, Holley shot and killed one officer and wounded another.
Surely Holley was a surly individual and criminal but right-wing? Even the SPLC’s Mark Potok would not label the attack as such, (and we know how easy it is to qualify for that demonization by the left-wing hate group). He told The Tallahassee Democrat, "It's hard to see where the ideology is in this particular attack other than simply attacking officialdom." Strangely enough, the fragmentary details of the man’s ideology – if he even had one – were enough to label him a “right-winger” by New America.
But New America is not equal-opportunity in its punitive labeling. They did not include the Chapel Hill shooter in their study, though his anti-religious, left-wing beliefs and previous comments to his Muslim neighbors were well established motives for his murder of three of his Muslim neighbors.
Oh, but a neo-nazi, white supremacist who shot and killed one person at the National Holocaust Museum in 2009 was right-wing.
The Charleston attack where nine black Christians were killed by a white supremacist who hated the flag and patriotism will of course be added to New America’s tally. A racist who is anti-American and kills Christians? Sure sounds like a right-winger!
It’s easy to spot the inconsistencies and false characterizations in the New America study – which makes it even more frustrating that the media continue to promote this study without any sense of discernment.