ADL’s Sobering Report on Extremism and Murder in the U.S.


Jewish Light Editorial

Since its establishment in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League has been on the front lines of fighting not only anti-Semitism but all forms of extremist hate groups and individuals. Its latest report shows that its fight is far from over.

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, issued the sobering report last week.  One of its key findings is that last year, right-wing extremists killed 38 people in the United States, far surpassing any other category of perpetrators. Only four of the 42 people killed were not right-wing.  The report notes that the total killed in 2019 is down slightly from 2018, but the 12-month period was “still one of the deadliest years on record for extremist-related violence.”

The deadliest attack by far was the white supremacist rampage at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August, which left 22 dead and at least 24 wounded.

Among killings not tied to right-wing motives were the December killings at a Jersey City kosher market by two attackers with prior ties to the Black Israelite movement. There was also the case of a Saudi national who went on a shooting spree in Florida.

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Looking at killings over the past decade, the ADL reported that “right-wing extremists have been responsible for more than 75 percent of domestic extremist-related murders.”

What can be done, other than the hollow thoughts and prayers that may make some people feel better but do nothing to actually combat the violence? The ADL report has some suggestions, including:

• New laws that focus on preventing domestic terrorism

• A stronger effort by tech companies to address real-life consequences of online hate

• Comprehensive hate-crime laws at the local, state and federal levels

• Greater attention to combatting extremism on the far right

•  Promotion of an inclusive climate in schools, including anti-bias and anti-hate lessons in the curriculum

•  A much stronger message from public officials and law enforcement authorities that violent bigotry is unacceptable.

Of course, all hate crimes and violence must be denounced, regardless of the motives of their perpetrators. The ADL has once again sounded the alarm by quantifying the shocking rise of violent extremism. Now, the report needs to be studied and acted upon by law enforcement, schools and houses of worship to prevent the toll from right-wing hate groups from growing next year.