Week 8- Differences in Defining Radicalization Depending on the Ideology

May 22, 2022

Welcome back!
This week through my research, I wanted to focus on a subgroup that is often overlooked when it comes to studies on radicalization. My main goal is to dispel perceptions of what radicalization means, and to recognize “[The] two common false narratives about terrorists who attack America…that terrorists are always [brown] Muslims [and that] white people are never terrorists.”. A report from June 2020, states that “Right-wing extremists perpetrated two-thirds of the attacks and plots in the United States in 2019 and over 90 percent between January 1 and May 8, 2020”. However, it is hardly ever that we label events such as the Quebec City and Charleston massacre as acts of terror. The violence conducted by white supremacist groups is considered a hate crime, but “terrorism” seems to be a word that only makes sense when attached to a Muslim perpetrator.

As seen in the graph below, after analyzing 893 terrorist attacks and plots in the United States between 1994 and 2020. It can be seen that right-wing terrorists perpetrated the majority—57 percent—of all attacks and plots during this period, compared to 25 percent committed by left-wing terrorists, 15 percent by religious terrorists, 3 percent by ethnonationalism, and 0.7 percent by terrorists with other motives. However, how is it that these events never get portrayed as such? This is based on multiple factors that play into the propaganda that allows for white supremacist violence to go unchecked. The main reason for that is confirmation bias, which is someone’s likelihood to only interpret evidence that correlated with their preexisting beliefs. As stated in Corbin’s writing, “[P]ropaganda cannot create something out of nothing. . . . [I]t must build on a foundation already present in the individual. . . . Propaganda is confined to utilizing existing material; it does not create it.”. This propaganda builds upon the fact that Muslim attacks receive around 449 percent more media coverage. While statistically, far-right violence is a larger threat to the US domestically, the failure to act to stop this type of violence is based on our inability to categorize it as destructive. To stop extremist violence in the US, we need to recognize that the ideology of the group or individual doesn’t change the fact that it is a threat to the stability of society and unite against terrorism in all forms.

See you next week!


One Reply to “Week 8- Differences in Defining Radicalization Depending on the Ideology”

  1. Luc M. says:

    Very interesting read! Before reading this blog post I knew about the dangerous threat of white supremacist violence, but I did not know the sheer scale of it! Your research is very important for exposing the inequities that exist in our society. Keep up the good work

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