The ADL Murder and Extremism Report is a fraud

On January 23, 2019, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report on “Murder and Extremism in the US in 2018.”
On twitter, they stated that “right-wing extremists committed nearly every extremist murder in 2018.”
“The facts … in our new report are chilling.”

The report was issued by the ADL’s Center on Extremism (COE) and claims to track all murders perpetrated by “extremists” and that “every extremist killing … had a link to right-wing extremism.”

The report is a complete fraud.

According to the report, there were a total of 17 incidents of “extremist-related murders” resulting in 50 people murdered in 2018, an increase from the 37 people murdered in 2017 but lower than the 70 and 72 murders in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The terminology of “extremist-related murders” creates a false impression that the report is exclusively devoted to racially or politically motivated murders. This is not true. It’s important to note that this is not a report about hate crimes, although hate crimes are included. This is a report about “extremist-related murders.”  What’s that?

According to the report, an extremist related murder is a murder where “there must be positive evidence connecting the murderer to an extremist group or movement. However, the murderers themselves do not need to be necessarily related to racist or ideological motives to be included in the report. The report includes murders committed for ideological and non-ideological reasons. In fact, the report states that of the 50 murders, only 19 were considered ideologically or racially motivated. The rest of the murders were non-ideological or the motives were unclear.

An obvious example of an ideological murder was the white supremacist who murdered 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue. However, the report also includes the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people. Since there was evidence that Cruz has made racist comments online, had an interest in white supremacy, and drew swastikas on his personal belongings, this incident is included in the report, even though the murders themselves were not considered ideological or racially motivated, since 9 of the 17 victims were non-Jewish whites.

Another example of “right-wing extremist related murder” was an incident involving a white man in Texas who murdered 4 of his relatives; his father, stepmother, her son, and adopted son.

The endnotes refer to the website of a Texas television news station stating that “sources” told the station that he “became a member of a white supremacist group” while serving a prior prison sentence. No additional information is provided detailing the name of the source or the name of the white supremacist group he allegedly joined.
There are other examples of whites, considered to be right-wing extremists, who killed family members or acquaintances that were also white. In fact, nearly half of the 50 murder victims in the report were white.

So a white man who murdered 4 of his relatives is included in the same listing as the anti-Semitic synagogue shooter who murdered 11 Jews. How is this information useful?

The ADL claims that “white supremacists in the US regularly commit murders in support of their hateful cause, but their violence — and thus the danger they pose to the country as a whole — extends far beyond that,” and includes “rivals, spouses, children, and acquaintances.”


People commit murders for a variety of reasons, mainly because of mental issues or a difficult childhood. Having mental problems may cause some people to join white supremacist groups. However, there is no evidence that having white supremacist thoughts or joining a white supremacist groups can be directly attributed to acts of violence. Not every white supremacist is violent, and there are many violent people who are not white supremacists.

The report includes no examples of left-wing extremist murders and only one incident of Islamic extremist murder. Did the COE conduct extensive research to determine if any left-wing or non-white murderers had extremist connections?

At the end of the report, the ADL admits that “extremist connections to killings are easier to determine for some movements than for others.”

“White supremacists … are more easily identifiable.”

“It is likely that non-ideological murders committed by extremists other than white supremacists are underrepresented in ADL’s data.”

I am not surprised.

What are the real reasons the ADL issued this report? These can be found in the “policy recommendations” section of the report.

“For too long, policy makers have focused disproportionate attention to the threat of Islamic extremism-to the detriment … of other security issues.”

“The time has come to recognize that far-right extremism is an ongoing, pervasive and consistent threat to innocent lives in America.”

“Far right extremism is a major threat in this new era.”

Wrong. Murders by so-called “far right extremists” represent a tiny fraction of total murders in the US. It is not a “major threat.” We do not even know how many “non-far right” extremist murders took place because, according to the ADL, the data is difficult to obtain.

The ADL issued this report for political purposes. They want to attack President Trump, and they want to put conservatives on the defensive. They want to reduce attention paid to Islamic extremism and focus more attention on far right groups by exaggerating their influence. The ADL cleverly manipulated murder statistics in order to create a false perception that since the election of President Trump, right wing extremists and Trump supporters have come out of the woodwork and are roaming the country in every major city and small town in order to attack minorities. And it’s all Donald Trump’s fault.

Democrats, the mainstream press, and Trump opponents on social media have already pounced on this report in order to justify these assertions. There is very little serious discussion about the actual contents of the report. This is exactly what the ADL wanted.

With all due respect to the ADL, the facts in the report are not “chilling.” It is the intentionally misleading and deceptive conclusions contained in this report that are chilling.

For many years, the ADL has abandoned its traditional role of fighting anti-Semitism and has become a politicized group that advocates for the progressive left. Instead of fighting anti-Semitism, they now fight conservatives and right leaning groups.

There is nothing wrong with compiling information about hate crimes, which are crimes directly motivated by bigotry or prejudice based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other characteristics. However, it is not appropriate to intentionally distort and manipulate crime statistics for partisan political purposes. It’s important to have accurate information regarding all crimes so that policy makers and law enforcement officials can allocate resources appropriately in order to best protect the American people. Unfortunately, this was not the first time the ADL has issued misleading crime reports, and it probably will not be the last.

About the Author
Dan works part-time as a writer on politics and current events.