The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement last week declaring that “right-wing extremism” was “linked” to every single one of the 50 killings it identified as “extremist-related murders” in 2018.
The ADL’s CEO, former Obama administration official Jonathan Greenblatt, repeated that claim in an email Monday.
However, the ADL’s own report casts doubt on that headline claim.
The report, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2018,” begins by declaring: “Every single extremist killing — from Pittsburgh to Parkland — had a link to right-wing extremism.”
Notably, the ADL includes the Parkland school shooting — responsible for the largest number of deaths (17/50) — among “extremist-related murders,” even though it admits that “it is not clear” whether the shooter’s white supremacist views played any role at all.
Later in the report, the ADL admits that political ideology was a motive only in a minority of the killings — and, moreover, that the proportion of “extremist” killings attributable to political motives actually declined in 2018:
Ideological motives appear to have played a primary or secondary role in 19 of the 50 extremist murders (38%) in 2018. In the remaining murders, either the role that ideology may have played is unclear, the motives in general are unclear or the murders were likely committed for non-ideological reasons. Over the past 10 years, 51% (216 out of 427) of domestic extremist-related murders have had a primary or secondary ideological motivation, so the 2018 proportion of ideologically-related killings is somewhat lower than average.
However, the ADL’s statement declared: “Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S., ADL Finds.” The term “linked” clearly implies motive, but the report itself refutes that headline claim.
The ADL’s claim has already been repeated, without qualification, in news articles around the world, as well as by left-wing politicians and pundits exploiting the opportunity to condemn the “right” for political violence.
Greenblatt added, in the ADL’s statement, that political leaders had devoted “disproportionate” attention for “too long” to the threat of violence by Islamic extremists, as opposed to violence by right-wing political extremists.
Greenblatt has been accused of turning the ADL, a Jewish civil rights organization, into a partisan outlet.
In 2017, the ADL highlighted hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers as examples of extremism that had been emboldened since the election of President Donald Trump. The threats turned out to be the work, largely, of a disturbed Jewish teenager in Israel and a similarly troubled left-wing African-American former journalist.
In 2018, the ADL claimed a rise in antisemitic “incidents” in the U.S. in 2017 — even though physical attacks on Jews declined that year.
On Monday, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) criticized Greenblatt for accepting the “apology” of first-term Democrat congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota for past antisemitic rhetoric, even though Omar had not actually apologized.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.