In the Two Minute Drill, we explain complex issues in politics in 250 words or less (roughly the amount of words it takes the average adult two minutes to read on a monitor). Politics just isn’t always that complicated. Without the fluff and partisan bias, even the most complex of our political differences can be explained succinctly. This week: right wing extremism in the United States. This is The Two Minute Drill for Friday, April 18, 2014.
On Sunday, White Patriot Party and Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan founder Frazier Glenn Cross shot dead 14-year-old student Reat Underwood, 69-year-old physician William Corporon, and 53-year-old Terri LaManno at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and the Village of Shalom Retirement Community in Overland Park, Kansas. Cross, who shouted “Heil Hitler” after he was taken into custody, obtained weapons from a straw purchaser. He was charged Tuesday with capital and premeditated murder.
The Explanation (250 or Bust)
Since 9/11, right-wing extremists have killed more Americans than Islamic jihadists. Underwood, Corporon and LeManno are the 32nd, 33rd and 34th people killed by right-wing extremists since 9/11, according to the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute. Over that same period, Islamic jihadists have killed 23 people in the U.S.
It is dangerous to assign political motivations to lunatics. And it is certainly true that a variety of left-wing extremists have carried out violent attacks for political reasons. But it is interesting to note that none of these left-wing attacks have been linked to a lethal attack. In contrast, in the last few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self-identify with the far-right of American politics.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 939 active hate groups in the United States, the vast majority of which promote a white racist ideology. But, for some reason, the media continues to be surprised when these violent right-wing extremists attack.
Some observers have wondered whether the Kansas killings would be receiving more attention if the gunman had shouted “Alahu Akbar” instead of “Heil Hitler.” Indeed, since 9/11, American law enforcement and the media have taken a disproportionate interest in the Muslim community. But the numbers couldn’t be clearer: right-wing extremists have committed far more acts of political violence since 1990 than American muslims.
Word Count: 250
The Five Most Interesting Things We’ve Read This Week
Here are the five most interesting articles (both political and non-political) we’ve read this week:
- “The health-care law’s expansion of insurance coverage will cost $104 billion less than projected over the next decade, according to revised estimates from nonpartisan budget analysts Monday. Obamacare’s lower-than-expected costs will come largely because premiums will be cheaper than previously thought.” From The Washington Post: Lower Premiums (Yes, Really) Drive down Obamacare’s Expected Costs, CBO Says.
- “Since the magnetic field shields the Earth’s surface from some amount of radiation, ‘flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun,’ were the field to disappear entirely, there could be dramatic consequences.” From Gizmodo: What Will Happen When the Earth’s Magnetic Field Switches?
- “Terasem’s followers are dedicated to studying and raising awareness about what they call ‘personal cyberconsciousness’ – the creation of mindfiles. They believe that by ritualistically recording your thoughts and feelings with great detail, you can ultimately assemble a digital copy of yourself, available for future use.” From Time: The Rapture of the Nerds.
- “Thanks to the halo effect that good looks engender, people attribute positive traits – from honesty and kindness to intelligence and loyalty – to people for no more reason than their winning smiles and nice abs.” From Priceonomics: The Entitlement of Really, Really Ridiculously Good Looking People.
- “The average audience for the weekend coverage on CBS was 8.6 million viewers in 6.4 million homes, according to Nielsen ratings finalized Thursday Morning.” From ESPN: Masters Ratings Worst since ’93. Perhaps the event would have gotten more viewers if the pros came to Augusta National to compete in the world’s most prestigious miniature golf tournament. From blogger Simon Connor:
And in case you missed it, check out The Weekly Column. This past week examined the anti-GMO movement and mandatory GMO labeling. Read the Column – The Problem with Mandatory GMO Labeling.