Research topic: Are home-grown hate groups our largest domestic terrorism threat?

On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA. The news came hardly a week after the shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility on Friday, November 27, 2015. Were these acts of domestic terrorism?

Find out more on the topic of domestic terrorism. (Credit: CREDO)

Find out more on the topic of domestic terrorism. (Credit: CREDO)

The Planned Parenthood incident has prompted criticism of political rhetoric that may fuel home-grown hate groups and inflame individuals who are mentally unbalanced. It’s a question that deserves exploration in your next research paper.

What is terrorism?

Terrorism may be defined as the threat or use of violence, often against the civilian population, to achieve political or social ends, to intimidate opponents, or to publicize grievances. The term dates from the Reign of Terror (1793–94) in the French Revolution, but has taken on additional meaning in the 21st century.

Our post-9/11 mindset is likely to picture a religious extremist from the Middle East when imagining a terrorist threat. Yet statistics show that it is far more likely that the perpetrator of a mass shooting in the U.S. is a white male who was born here.

John Haltiwanger reported on Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings’ views on the subject in his November 23, 2015, post for, “Dallas Mayor Says Armed White Men Scare Him More Than Syrian Refugees.”

When asked about accepting Syrian refugees, the mayor is reported to have stated, “I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue.”

Haltiwanger also quoted data that shows white males have been responsible for aboout 64 perent of mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982.

Understanding domestic terrorism

Find millions of resources for your research paper at Questia. Among the materials in the Questia library is the book, Understanding Terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda, by Christopher Hewitt.

In this book, Hewitt surveys the characteristics and causes of terrorism and governmental responses to it. He also examines the organizational structure of terrorist networks, how they are financed and their ideological agendas. Organizations covered included: Islamic fundamentalists, white and black racists, anti-abortionists and neo-Nazis.

As Hewitt observed, attacks on women’s health clinics are nothing new. The question to be asked is what government policies may have provoked terrorism.

“Following an attack on an abortion clinic, an editorial in The Nation (January 23, 1995) argued that “John Salvi was no lonegunman…. After twenty years of denunciation of ‘baby-killers’ from pulpit, Oval Office and TVstudio, it was only a matter of time before someone took the rhetoric at face value,” Hewitt stated.

Home-grown hate

According to research from the New America Foundation, since 9/11, more Americans have been killed by white male terrorists than radical Islamists (Jihadists). The death toll from 19 deadly attacks carried out by white perpetrators totaled 48 while radical Islamists killed 31 people in 8 attacks.

The organization New America published its study, “Homegrown Extremism 2001-2015,” which examined the demographics of those involved in violent extremist activity within the U.S.

Key findings from the report included:

  • Both Jihadists and NonJihadists were likely to have been born a U.S. citizen
  • The average age of NonJihadists was 34
  • Of 182 NonJihadist perpetrators, 161 were male
  • Of 182 NonJihadist perpetrators, 165 were white

Because these statistics were compiled between 2001 and 2015 they don’t include the 168 people killed in Oklahoma City by anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh in 1995.

The data also excluded killings where no ideological motive was evident and so does not include the number slain at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater (12 dead, 70 wounded) and Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School (26 deaths) in 2012. Both mass shootings were carried out by young white males.

Other details on “The Top 10 White Terrorists Of All-Time” were listed by Casey Gane-McCalla for Based on Gane-McCalla’s findings it would appear that the terrorists listed were strongly influenced by extreme political ideologies.

Follow news and research related to crime and terrorism at Questia.

Do you think that our most serious terrorist threat is found among our own citizens? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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