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Domestic terrorismFar-right extremists far greater threat than left-wing militants: Experts

Published 16 August 2017

Leaving aside the moral issues raised by President Donald Trump’s unsettling insistence on equating neo-Nazis and anti-Nazis, experts say that the president’s assertion, in his Tuesday’s press conference, that left-inspired violence in the United States is as bad as violence generated by the extreme right, is patently false. The FBI, DHS, and state and local law enforcement consider right-wing extremists to be an order of magnitude more dangerous to public safety in the United States than left-leaning extremists. Domestic security experts estimate that there are 400,000-500,000 Americans who are affiliated, in one way or another, with various right-wing extremist groups, compared with a few thousand Antifa, Black Box, and other militant left-wing activists.

In his Tuesday press conference from Trump Tower, President Donald Trump placed the coalition of neo-Nazis, KKK members, white supremacists, anti-Semites, and a motley assortment of other racists and bigots on the same moral plane as the those who came to protest the alt-right violent gathering.

Trump also said that the two sides were equally to blame for the violence, accusing the mainstream media – “fake news” — of covering alt-right violence while not covering alt-left violence.

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” Trump asked one of the reporters. “Let me ask you this: What about the fact they came charging — that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”

Leaving aside the moral problems raised by a U.S. president’s insistence on equating neo-Nazis and anti-Nazis, experts say that the president’s assertion that left-inspired violence in the United States is as bad as violence generated by the extreme right is patently false.

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Also see:

“Gauging extremist crime: Crunching the numbers,” HSNW 13 June 2017
“Anti-government extremism most prevalent terrorist threat inside U.S.: Law enforcement,” HSNW, 29 June 2015
DHS intelligence assessment highlights threat posed by sovereign citizen groups,” HSNW, 23 February 2015
“Domestic terrorism by members of extremist groups a serious threat: FBI,” HSNW, 10 August 2012

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The leftist Antifa (for “Anti-fascist”) group, whose members often burn cars and smash store windows during demonstrations, used clubs and dyed liquids against the white supremacists at Charlottesville, but this was not remotely equal to James Alex Fields Jr. driving his car into a group of protesters, killing one and wounding nineteen.

Comparing Antifa to Fields’s act is like “comparing a propeller plane to a C-130 transport,” Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, told the New York Times.

“Using the fact that some counterprotesters were, in fact, violent, creates a structural and moral false equivalency that is seriously undermining the legitimacy of this president,” Levin said.

J. J. MacNab, a fellow in the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, agrees. She told the Times that Antifa and Black Block, the two groups of which the more aggressive far left today consists, do engage in street brawls and property damage, but that while these acts are reprehensible, they are “not domestic terrorism.”