Published in The Washington Times, Nov. 10, 2020
Where are the Pro-Trump Riots?
By Christopher C. Hull, Ph.D.
Leading up to the 2020 election, first a strong majority and ultimately three quarters of Americans feared post-election violence – including “riots,” “looting,” “burning,” and even “[t]rashing of cities.”
More surprising, perhaps, more Democrats (80%) than Republicans (71%) feared that violence.
So where is it?
First, let’s acknowledge that violence has in fact taken place – on the Left. Police sought three suspects linked to Black Lives Matter after three Trump supporters were ‘slashed and stabbed’ on Election Night. Anarchist organizers clashedwith police and destroyed property in Portland, New York, Chicago, and Denver, claiming to target the “property-owning oppressive bastards” and calling for “Death to America.”
Second, let’s acknowledge that a disgusting though tiny minority who claim to be on the Right do embrace violence for political ends, including a prominent neo-Nazi calling for supporters to “Get ready for war” as the election approached. Likewise, police said Friday they evacuated an area near Philadelphia’s ballot-counting center based on a bomb threat, though they found no explosives.
That said, according to a multiyear analysis just released to the public released under the auspices of Americans for Intelligence Reform, the American public’s impressions of who exactly engages in extremist violence just may slant the wrong way.
Specifically, the study found, a taxpayer-funded database launched at the dawn of the Obama era purporting to track terrorism and extremist events in the United States is riddled with inaccuracies and outright factual errors. The vast majority of these errors obscure Islamic and Left-Wing violence, and instead highlight Right-Wing violence.
TEVUS simply omits, for instance, a substantial number of non-White perpetrators of terrorism and extremist violence, and in some instances even misrepresents their races, including classifying every one of the exclusively Arab 9/11 hijackers not as “Arab,” but as “White/Caucasian non-Hispanic.”
The study also documents the way in which TEVUS characterizes both Left-Wing and Islamic extremist crimes as hijackings, hostage takings or armed assaults rather than homicides. The result of this seemingly modest change is that TEVUS categorizes a towering 89% of “homicides” as Right-Wing. That flies in the face of the fact that the 9/11 jihad attacks alone led to nearly 3,000 total deaths.
In addition, the study shows that TEVUS excludes or mischaracterizes approximately 73% of those on a Congressional list of individuals implicated in terrorism from March 2014 to June 22, 2016; 97% of the individuals on the Department of Justice’s public list of individuals convicted of terrorism and terror-related charges between 9/11 and the end of 2014; and 98% of “Killings in the Name of Islam” since 9/11.
Similarly, TEVUS excludes Left-Wing violence, containing not a single Antifa crime nor Antifa itself – not just this year, which would be understandable, but ever. For instance, the study reports, TEVUS contains neither Eric Clanton, the convicted Antifa protestor who assaulted another man with a bike lock at the Berkeley Antifa rally on April 15th, 2017, nor the incident itself. Antifa does not appear even though the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security formally classified the movement’s activities as “domestic terrorist violence.”
Moreover, according to the study, TEVUS omits extremists explicitly associated with the radical Left. For instance, the study points out, TEVUS fails to include the name of James ‘Tom’ Hodgkinson, the mass shooter who nearly killed U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. Nor does TEVUS identify him as Left-Wing, notes the study, though media reports identified him as a “leftwing activist with record of domestic violence” described by a neighbor as a “liberal Democrat,” who had posted “I want Bernie to win the White House,” whom Sanders acknowledged had “apparently volunteered” for him, and who posted before the shooting, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” In fact, as Hodgkinson entered the baseball field where he was to open fire, he had “asked if it was Republicans or Democrats” practicing on the baseball field and was told it was Republicans before opening fire. Yet TEVUS does not flag him as Left-Wing.
During the Trump Administration, the study charges, TEVUS researchers actually modified their database to eliminate Left-Wing ideologies where it once acknowledged them, including removing the “Left Wing” ideology for the confessedgay terrorist who carried out the 2012 attack against the politically conservative Family Research Council, even though his only known statement during the attack was, “I don’t like your politics.”
By contrast, says the study, only one of TEVUS’ descriptions of all 244 first-degree related Right-Wing events includes a mention of “terror” in any context – and that was a case in which the attacker referred to his target as a ‘terrorist’ and a ‘suicide bomber.’ Finally, the study reports, not a single one of TEVUS’ descriptions of the 39 court cases it characterizes as Right-Wing include a reference to a federal terrorism charge.
The database, named the Terrorism and Extremist Violence in the US database (TEVUS) nevertheless received a contract worth up to $10.1 million from the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security in August, according to USASpending.gov.
With Election Day come and gone, Americans have a lot more to fear from Left-Wing (and Islamic) extremists than the taxpayer-funded results in the TEVUS database would suggest. Let’s hope the next Administration adjusts this key data so we all have a clearer picture of relative threats from all sources in the future.
The safety of America and its closest allies depends on all citizens being able to speak accurately about terrorism, extremist violence, and threats to the republic.
Christopher C. Hull, Ph.D., President of Issue Management Inc., serves as Senior Fellow for Americans for Intelligence Reform and teaches at the Institute of World Politics.