More Alternative Facts: Right Wing Media Blames Liberals For Political Violence

Since the terrible shooting in Alexandria last week, conservative media has been screaming about the rise in left wing violence. They have blamed former President Barack Obama for the shooting. They blamed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Naturally, they also pointed the finger at “Main Stream Media,” as if they aren’t a part of that media.

But while the right is busy complaining about the violence from the left, some people are looking for the truth about political violence in the United States. Which political party has been victimized more often by violent extremism? Which side of the political spectrum features the greater number of hate crimes?

First we can look at the number of congresspeople who have been shot in the course of U.S. history. It turns out that there have been a total of 17 members of Congress who have been shot. And 14 of those were Democrats.

Next we turn to the numbers of hate groups in the U.S. over the past three Presidential administrations. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported last February on the number of far right groups, and how those numbers have changed. It’s obvious from that data that there was an explosion of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and white nationalist groups during the Obama years. There were 149 such groups in 2008, and a whopping 998 when President Obama stepped down.

NPR also reported on domestic political violence in the U.S. That report recognized that there has, in fact, been an increase in left wing hate groups, noting the “antifascist” groups that have risen out of the black bloc anarchist movement.

But the number of violent crimes committed by political extremists on the left isn’t even close to the number committed by the right.

Mark Pitcavage is a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.  He tracks violent hate groups on both sides. He said:

“The far left is very active in the United States, but it hasn’t been particularly violent for some time. In the past 10 years when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders.”

Nearly three quarters of political crimes have been carried out by right wing extremists. The number of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacist groups keeps rising. The numbers of anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim hate crimes rose sharply in the two weeks after the election of November 9, 2016.

To be clear, the left doesn’t get a pass on this kind of hateful action. We all need to stay vigilant about the rise of violence.

But when the alternative fact media gets all hysterical about how violent the resistance to President Donald Trump has become, it’s important to have the actual facts in hand. Americans are still at greater risk from right wing extremists than from anyone on the left.

Check out this video to learn more about how hate groups have become more emboldened by Trump’s election:

Featured image via Southern Poverty Law Center.




Karen is a retired elementary school teacher with many years of progressive activism behind her. She is the proud mother of three young adults who were all arrested with Occupy Wall Street. To see what she writes about in her spare time, check out her blog at "Empty Nest, Full Life"