The ADL's extremism statistics . . . by Anthony L. Fisher
We know that there are right-wing extremists who are dangerous to people and society. We also know that there are left-wing extremists who are equally as dangerous. We also know that the ADL has become one of the "go to" organizations for ferreting out and keeping track of extremists, extremism, and extremist attacks.
Those of us who have been paying attention though, also know that the ADL is sadly, not above playing politics when gathering and presenting their statistics on extremism. As part of that political games playing, they make it seem as if the violence skews more right than left. This is wrong. And showing us how and why it's wrong is Anthony L. Fisher.
In several cases I examined, it was clear that while the person or people involved might have ties to extremist groups or hold extremist views, the crimes committed by these people that were classified by the ADL as extremist incidents were not targeting protected identity groups. These would likely be the "non-ideological" crimes the ADL says it includes in its tracking of extremist incidents.
For example, if a methamphetamine dealer who happens to be a member of a racist extremist group kills a rival dealer, the ADL may consider that an "extremist killing." The same seems to be true where white supremacists kill rival white supremacists, or even their own allies they fear are police informants.
There are also cases that defy classification. For example, how does one appropriately classify the case of the former neo-Nazi who killed his roommates for making fun of his newfound Muslim faith? Can this act be properly classified as a hate crime or terrorism?
What appears true — regardless of the definition used to cover extremist incidents — is the theme that emerges from the ADL data: Extremists of all political and prejudiced varieties are typically young men with a history of violence and criminality, often with pronounced mental and emotional issues.
But by painting its findings with such a broad stroke, the ADL data might lead some to conclude that there are significantly more hate crimes and terrorism in the US than actually transpire.
Based on the incidents cited by the ADL, in most years, extremists are just as likely to kill each other, their criminal associates, or their family members as they are to kill people in protected identity groups.
This is a very detailed article. Go and read it.