Summary: The New York Times has sought to educate people to fear Republican terrorists more than Muslim extremists.
“Right-Wing” versus “Muslim Extremism”
In June 2015 the New York Times ran some articles and editorials claiming that domestic terrorism was more of a problem than radical Islamic terrorism.
- A June 16 op-ed “The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat” quoted a police officer that “said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism’”. The paper quoted statistics from The Global Terrorism Database which counted 65 attacks at the hands of “right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11”. It added another source, “the International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.”
- On June 24, the NYTimes had an article entitled “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11”. The paper stated that “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.” That data looks to be the same as the International Security Program, but included the nine black church-goers who had just been gunned down. Another statistic in the article stated that “Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such [ideological] attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants.”
The Washington Examiner questioned the definition of “right-wing terrorists” to include a very broad group of people. How did neo-Nazis and racists get lumped in with the “right-wing”? Before exploring the Times deliberate grouping of all non-Muslim extremism under a single banner, consider a brief education about relative numbers versus absolute numbers.
Absolute versus Relative
A cursory review of numbers could lead to a quick conclusion: 48 people killed is a greater total than 26 people killed. A total of 19 attacks is more than seven attacks. As such, the quotes in the article such as “Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists” would appear accurate on its face as there were more than two times the number of attacks and almost twice the number of fatalities from non-Muslim attacks.
However, a review of the statistics on a relative basis would yield a very different result.
According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims accounted for 0.9% of Americans in 2014. That means that there are 99 times more non-Muslims than Muslims in the US. If one were to assume that the percentage of Muslims who are radical that would commit an act of terror is the same as the broad group of right-wing and anti-government terrorists within the non-Muslim population, one would expect the right-wing terrorists to have 99 times the number of attacks and fatalities, not two times. This implies that an average Muslim is 49 times more likely to commit an act of ideological terror than a non-Muslim in the United States.
(By the way, the statistics deliberately exclude the jihadist terrorism of 9/11 which killed nearly 3000 people.)
The New York Times Warning of Terrorism by Conservatives
After the Times led its readers to focus on “homegrown extremism” as the actual threat of terrorism (compared to jihadists), it lumped all of those non-Muslim fanatics into the Republican party:
“On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives. A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that an ailing economy and the election of the first black president might prompt a violent reaction from white supremacists, was withdrawn in the face of conservative criticism.”
Even if one were to use the liberal paper’s biased assumptions that all anti-government and racist fanatics must exclusively come from the Conservative and Republican parties (which account for roughly 45% of the population according to a June 2015 Gallup poll), it would still suggest that an average Muslim is over 20 times more likely to commit an ideological attack as a “homegrown [Conservative] extremist.”
That would suggest one of the following conclusions:
- Non-Muslim terrorists have nothing to do with the Conservative/ Republican parties; OR
- An average Muslim is much more likely to commit acts of terror than an average non-Muslim
Either way -or both – these are the exact opposite conclusions that the New York Times sought to convey in its articles.
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