Is White Supremacy a Bigger Threat Than Radical Islam?
Thanks to social media, I get to know a lot of wonderful, intelligent people. Brendt Wayne Waters falls under that category. I had linked to the article he discusses here and he did some follow-up, and wanted to know if I’d be interested in running his thoughts on the topic. “Of course I would,” I said. And this post is the fruit of his labors.
Yesterday, I posted on Facebook a link to a Yahoo News article whose headline read: “Statistics Show White Supremacy is a Bigger Threat to the U.S. Than Radical Muslims.”
Some of the pushback that I got on this came from those who admitted to not reading the article, but simply were responding to the headline. But other pushback came from those who had read the article and still had reservations. So, I decided to investigate further to see if these reservations were valid.
Breaking it down
The article cites a statistical analysis of data gathered since (but not including) the 9/11 tragedy. In
that period of time, 48 Americans were killed by “white extremists and other non-Muslim extremists,” while 26 were killed by “self-proclaimed [Muslim] jihadists.” To be fair, the fact that the former number includes “other non-Muslim extremists” can bring doubt to the veracity of the headline. So, I looked more carefully at the numbers.
The statistics included 13 murders carried out in the name of anti-government sentiment, and two incidents (totaling four murders) whose influence wasn’t completely clear. Even if we discard those “other non-Muslim” incidents from consideration, we are still left with 31 murders committed by white supremacists. This (obviously) is more than the 26 murders committed by jihadists; so, the comparison made by the headline is verified.
It should be noted, also, that the Islam-driven events do include such things as the incidents at Foot Hood (in 2009) and the Boston Marathon (in 2013). So, even though the current administration chokes on the words “extreme Islam” like Fonzie chokes on admitting that he was “wr-wr-wr-wrong,” the statisticians have no such qualms.
I would now like to examine two issues raised in contrary to the overall thesis. One is a question raised by a friend; the other is something that I anticipate might be questioned.
“What about 9/11?”
The events that drive the statistics gathered span from July 4, 2002, to June 17, 2015 — just under 13 years. This is not a statistically insignificant period of time; so, the numbers stand on their own merit. But let us argue that 13 years is statistically insignificant. We do not suddenly achieve statistical significance by adding one more year to the time frame. So adding the 9/11 tragedy to the mix does not disprove the theory.
If the statistics gathered are too narrow, then we need to significantly expand them. So let’s make it 100 years. And we won’t limit it to the United States. While I’m sure that the number of murders committed in the name of Islam would sky-rocket (particularly in the Middle East), those numbers would still pale in comparison — ridiculously so — to those killed by the Nazi party. The number 6,000,000 is very familiar, but it only refers to the number of Jews killed. When you add other demographics — all killed in the name of a specific subset of white supremacy — the number jumps well into eight figures.
Now, to be fair, I have chosen a range (both temporal and geographic) that skews the numbers heavily in favor of my argument. But such skewing is also done by decrying the fact that 9/11 is not included in the original statistics. So, either both arguments are valid or both are invalid — it can’t be one of each. All things being equal, then, the original statistics are worthy of consideration in and of themselves.
The table that lists the statistics gathers the murders committed by “white extremists and other nonMuslim extremists” under the heading of “Deadly Right Wing Attacks.” This classification is unfortunate and unnecessary.
The term “right wing” is often inflammatory, and could potentially draw one’s attention away from the numbers. It also could be inferred that the author of this table believes that violence in the names of racism or anti-government beliefs are solely in the realm of extreme conservatism, and that is clearly not the case. However, I would urge you to look beyond this obfuscation (intentional or not) to examine the objective facts.
So, what’s going on here?
I believe that there are two issues at play here that cause pushback against such a claim. One is heinous; the other is fairly innocent.
Like it or not, there is a strong strain of anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. In the face of Muslim extremism, a man felt perfectly comfortable in asking Donald Trump what he planned to do to rid this country of all Muslims. To my knowledge, no one has asked Ben Carson how we can get rid of all the white people. And no one has asked Bernie Sanders what his plan is to eradicate the goyim.
Many charge that the United States’ actions in the Middle East are simply racist and/or driven by some other prejudice against entire nations. Such claims are specious and are most often met with the argument that we are at war with terrorism, not wholesale demographics. But if we limit our focus to terrorism carried out by extreme Islam, then the charges of prejudice are given a great deal of credence.
The (fairly) innocent
Contrary to what we might believe, anti-Muslim sentiment is not limited to one party or ideology. News coverage and publicity of extreme Muslim activity comes from (and continues on) all corners of the media, whether mainstream, alternative, or even social.
In contrast, white supremacy activity falls off the radar much more quickly. And sadly, to the degree that it remains news, the focus is often driven by race-baiters and others seeking to exploit the incident for furtherance of their own agenda.
Even more sadly, those who do not fit that category (but simply want the focus to remain) get lost among such charlatans.
Given these facts, it is somewhat understandable that there would be pushback against the Yahoo News article. The theme of everything that we’re told is that the major (if not total) focus on terrorism should be that which is perpetrated in the name of the Muslim faith.
So, what’s your point?
My point is two-fold.
First, note that I said that such a perception (as described in the last section) is fairly innocent. Scripture tells us that Christians are given “the spirit of a sound mind” and instructs us to be “wise as serpents.” When we fail to use the brains and wisdom that God gave us to sift through all the noise and get to actual facts, we are culpable.
The statistics presented are a piece of what we need to absorb. The fact that they go against the common mantra does not make them wrong.
Second, and more generally, hate is hate. When we focus on the victims of one brand of hate, we do a great disservice to the victims of all other brands.
Brendt Wayne Waters likes to do almost anything, as long as he doesn’t have to leave his computer. He wrote and edited for the first online Christian music magazine in the 90s and continues to write whenever possible. While born in Philadelphia, he has lived outside Atlanta since his teens, and married a Southern girl to take up any remaining slack in his Yankeedom. He is on staff at his church, playing the role of in-house geek.
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