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Right-Wing Extremists Committed All of the Hate-Crime Killings in 2018

It would be easy to chalk up an increased public wariness about hate crimes and extremism in the United States to media-fueled scaremongering, but the unfortunate truth is that 2018 saw a significant spike in hate-motivated murders. In fact, 2018 was the fourth worst year on record since 1970, with at least 50 such murders — a big leap from the 37 killings in 2017.

Every year the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, releases a report documenting and detailing such hate crimes. This civil rights group, founded over a century ago, is one of the most respected organizations working to combat bigotry and extremism in the United States today. Though the 50 hate-related killings in 2018 didn’t match those in 2015 and 2016 — with 70 and 72 murders respectively — the ADL’s report includes some important findings that are worth exploring.

Perhaps the biggest discovery is that, without exception, each perpetrator had links to one or more right-wing extremist groups — in most cases, white nationalists.

However, as the report explains, a recent trend in misogyny-motivated killings has put these types of hate groups on the ADL’s radar. There are several terms applied to these groups, including “manosphere” and “ incel “ — short for “involuntary celibate.”

In the past, people associated with these hate groups have mostly confined their activities to online discussion. I previously wrote about how the online discussion website Reddit served as a popular digital gathering point for those who identify as incels. In more recent times, though, it has become clear that these individuals are taking their hatred of women into the real world and acting on their violent impulses.

Last May, an active member of the online incel community killed 10 people in Toronto, apparently motivated to seek violent revenge against as many women as possible for being sexually rejected. In November, a man entered a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, and began shooting women, killing two and injuring five others; he was found to possess a similar mindset.

Though tangentially connected to this surging activity from violent misogynists, a radical right-wing group calling itself the Proud Boys has come under scrutiny for its mob-style attacks against those who protest the organization’s gatherings. Among its various ideological declarations, which includes the rejection of “white guilt,” is the embracing of — in their own words — “chauvinism.”

While the “why” of hate crimes is important, so is the “how,” or the methods involved. Given the documented rise of active shooter incidents in the United States in recent history it should come as little surprise to learn that the ADL report cites firearms as the overwhelming weapon of choice for hate-related murder. Researchers found that 42 of the 50 killings in 2018 involved the use of guns.

In light of the clearly persistent problem of deadly hate crimes in the United States, it’s especially troubling that the Trump administration seems adamant to turn a blind eye. In November, I wrote about President Trump’s decision to defund programs established under Obama that would aim to curb white nationalist ideology and violence.

These initiatives cost a mere $10 million in annual grants — a drop in the bucket when compared to Trump’s desired $5 billion border wall — which, he continues to claim, without proof, would directly lead to a decline in crime and violence in the United States.

If Trump and his supporters were genuinely worried about deadly violence in the United States, perhaps they should look here at home and not to imagined boogie men. Since taking office, President Trump has routinely taken to railing against Arab and Latino families fleeing violence, painting them as would-be terrorists or violent drug gang members.

The White House even opened an office under the Department of Homeland Security specifically to track crime committed by immigrants in the United States — and quietly closed it after it failed to provide the results the Trump administration wanted.

Originally published at Care2.com on Feb. 5, 2019.

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