The Right-Wing Response to Paris is Everything Terrorists Could Want

The right-wing response to the Paris terror attacks is predictably hysterical, racist and xenophobic. It’s everything the terrorists could possibly want, and a distraction from a very real threat.

The world is still reeling from the terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people on Friday. While the rest of the world mourns, the American right-wing is engaging in the usual orgy of racism, xenophobia, jingoism, fear-mongering and saber-rattling.

Perhaps the worst example was two CNN anchors berating the spokesperson for a Muslim outreach group, because he would not agree that all Muslims were collectively responsible for the attacks.

That kind of rhetoric has already led to several threats of violence against Muslims.

The right-wing rhetoric and threats of violence against Muslims after the Paris attacks is a reminder of what we know about terrorist violence in the U.S.: the main terrorist threat in the U.S. is not from Muslims, but from home-grown right-wing extremists. A 2014 survey of law enforcement agencies showed that 74 percent rated anti-government extremism as one of the top three threats of terrorist violence in their jurisdictions; 39 percent listed Islamic extremists as top threats.

Domestic right-wing terrorists are responsible for far more violence than American Muslims. In the decade after 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots in the U.S. Most were disrupted, and the 20 that were carried out accounted for 40 fatalities over 13.5 years. By comparison, right-wing extremists racked up 337 attacks per year, and 264 fatalities.

Loosely defined, right-wing terrorism encompasses actions carried out by groups or individuals associated with white supremacist, anti-government, sovereign citizen, patriot, militia or other ideologies targeting specific religious, ethnic, or other minority groups. Since 2009, such movements have grown in a backlash against the cultural shift represented by the election of the nation’s first African-American president. In 2009, a Department of Homeland Security report predicted such a backlash, but the report was withdrawn and the analytical team behind it “eviscerated,” after conservative media and politicians lashed out, calling it a “political attack.”

Conservative rhetoric in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, serves to draw attention away from the connection between right-wing rhetoric and right-wing terrorism, and obscure the right’s fingerprints on incidents of extremist violence.

Unfortunately, the GOP’s rhetoric following the Paris attacks is everything that ISIS/Daesh could hope for, as Walled Aly — host of the Australian talk show “The Project” explained in a segment that has since gone viral. Aly explains that ISIS/Daesh wants to increase Western hostility towards Muslims, our of a belief that Muslims will have nowhere left to turn but to ISIS/Daesh.

In that sense, conservative media, governors, members of Congress, and presidential candidates are volunteering to be the best recruitment device that the terrorists who caused so much death and destruction in Paris could ask for. It’s a somewhat mutually beneficial arrangement, as whipping up the Islamophobia of the party’s base has been a winning strategy for the GOP before, and may prove so again in the presidential primaries.

Despite their penchant for accusing President Obama and the Democrats of giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy, the words and actions of conservatives only strengthen the terrorists. How many innocents will pay the price the next time?

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