After a group of white supremacists in New Zealand committed terror attacks Friday that resulted in the deaths of 49 innocent Muslims, CNN host Don Lemon doubled down on a widely panned assertion he made last year that white men represent the biggest terror threat in America.
His proof? The alleged and admittedly sketchy numbers.
“[W]hy do we have this perception in our society that certain groups of people cannot be terrorists?” the far-left CNN host said to fellow network host Chris Cuomo. “But even though in every single bit of research, all the facts show who the biggest perpetrators of domestic terror is in this country and have been for a long time.”
“People cannot wrap their heads around certain people being terrorists because they think terrorists look like Muslims, whatever a Muslim looks like.”
“I get tired of people saying, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe Don Lemon is saying that. He’s racist,'” he added shortly later. “That’s the facts. We need to come to terms with that in order to be able to stop it. Otherwise, we keep looking at a group of people who have — in the graphic that you showed, 2% versus 78% — the numbers don’t lie.”
He meant the following graphic displayed by Cuomo earlier in the program:
Except this entire graphic may be a distortion of reality.
Every year the Anti-Defamation League releases a report on “murder and extremism in the United States.” In its 2018 report, the league noted that 78 percent of all “extremist-related murders were committed by right-wing extremists,” whereas only 2 percent were committed by domestic Islamist extremists. What’s unclear is what’s meant by murders. A murder by itself is not an act of terrorism.
The U.S. government defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Now flash back to the end of 2017, when FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that the biggest terror threat going into 2018 was Islamic terrorism.
“FBI Director Christopher Wray has indicated the FBI considers the most pressing domestic terrorism threats to be homegrown violent extremists radicalized by ISIS and other radical Islamist groups, as well as lone wolf attackers who aren’t connected to any other actors or groups,” McClatchy reported at the time.
“Cultists, ‘sovereign citizens’ who don’t believe government constraints apply to them and those motivated by racial animus are a lesser but persistent concern, according to the bureau.”
McClatchy further noted that in 2017, “jihadist attacks claimed the most lives compared to other domestic extremist groups, with five attacks in the U.S. killing 17 people.”
As a source, the outlet cited the Extremist Crime Database, a catalog of terrorism maintained by the University of Maryland, College Park’s highly acclaimed National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
What’s odd is that the consortium’s numbers differ wildly with those of the ADL. According to the league’s 2017 extremism report, white supremacists again committed the most “domestic extremist-related killings:
Hmm … Why such a discrepancy between the numbers? If nothing else, it suggests that Lemon’s assertion that “the numbers don’t lie” isn’t quite correct.
Plus, do these numbers also account for the number of would-be terrorists who were caught and arrested before they were able to kill their desired targets? Just two months ago three Michigan men were charged by federal prosecutors for conspiring to provide “material support” to ISIS. Do they count?
The problem with numbers alone is that they lack context. Without context, any number can be twisted to push a particular narrative, for better or worse. In fact, the ADL has a history of doing exactly that.
Last year renowned George Mason University School of Law professor David Bernstein penned a lengthy piece for Tablet magazine criticizing the ADL for misrepresenting data about anti-Semitic attacks in the United States to suggest Jews aren’t safe in the U.S.
“[N]o sound empirical data exists that shows an increase in anti-Semitism during the Trump administration that would justify such claims, while the data that does exist, like a much-cited ADL study, proves no such thing,” he wrote.
“Undoubtedly many readers are silently protesting, ‘What about the ADL statistic showing a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017,’ a figure reported by NPR, The New York Times, the Post, and many other media outlets.”
“In fact, that’s not what the study shows and despite the way it has been portrayed in the ADL’s own press release, the actual findings don’t even purport to show any such thing.”
How do you like “the numbers” now, Mr. Lemon?
— shawnc (@politirft) March 16, 2019
Given Lemon’s habit of using shoddy statistics to posit outrageous claims, it’s no wonder so many people on social media find him so be so repugnant — if not “deplorable.”
Dude… This guy is just discusting .. Theres not a raise in white nationalist terrorism.. Its the same group of sick psychopathic people that in this case used that rhetoric.. Stop using the dead of others to push your agenda..
— Christian Aranibar S (@christian_as9) March 16, 2019
Thousands of Christians have been slaughtered in the Middle East & across Europe – Terrorism in all forms across all religions is horrible – white nationalism & Islamophobia is no more on the rise than radical Islam
— Corinne Smith (@SmithTsmith3) March 16, 2019
I hate suprematism but what don is-saying is “there is a white problem” he is a racist. The word supremacy just allows him to say it on air.
— Steve Ash (@rsauto3) March 16, 2019
When is @donlemon going to be held accountable? Pro Race baiting racist!
— Peter (@peterwhiteboy1) March 16, 2019
— John Rambo ?? (@JohnRambo_USA) March 16, 2019
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