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Understanding Extremist Violence is Complicated
and Necessary.

The suspect in the Buffalo massacre posted an on-line manifesto that discussed a racial conspiracy theory referred to as “Replacement Theory”. The fact that the shooter is a 18- year-young teenager makes it kind of impossible not to discuss this with your own children or other (young) people in your community. Many will search for ways to cope and find mechanisms to make sense of brutal events like it. Facts and numbers around the topic might contribute to the larger picture and might help frame such conversations.

Every year people with ties to a variety of extreme movements and causes kill people in the United States. The Anti Defamation League tracks these murders. The ADL’s Center on Extremism publishes a meticulously researched annual report to document the various aspects of extremisms from all known ideologies. Their findings clearly show the biggest threat is coming from domestic, right-wing white supremacists

Over the past decade about 450 U.S. murders were committed by political extremists. Left- wing extremists accounted for 4 %, Islamic extremists were responsible for about 20%, while 75% of all killings were the result of right-wing extremists. What is not always obvious is that nearly half of the murders are specifically tied to white supremacists.

What motivates people to engage in extremism, and worse, what motivates them to act on it is always complicated and usually complex. It is tempting not to engage with conspiracy theories too wild and possibly too weird to follow. Yet it is important so we can engage with our communities, and to understand the history, the serious extremism, and threatening xenophobia behind such thoughts – and then, to push back effectively and articulately. More info at ADL.org (Anti-Defamation League) and hsdl.org (homeland security digital library).

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