Dear Editor: As we have seen again in recent weeks, this nation is facing an epidemic of right-wing domestic terrorism. Gunmen, openly boasting white-nationalist views, targeted Latino immigrants for mass murder in El Paso and Gilroy, just as white supremacists previously slaughtered Jews at Pittsburgh and Poway synagogues, and black churchgoers in South Carolina.

It’s the worst spasm of radical-right political terror since the Oklahoma City bombing.

But you’d never know it, to hear Republicans speak. From the White House on down to talk radio, conservatives who have eagerly described Antifa thugs and a Muslim congresswoman as “terrorists” perversely refuse to use the T-word to describe the horrific acts of their own unhinged supporters.

If Muslim extremists were responsible for this recurrent carnage, the political right would declare us under attack from Islamic terrorism and demand the nation mobilize for a domestic war on terror. But the Republican response to mass killings by white-right extremists is to declare them “mentally ill” and ignore the political motivation – and deny they could have been encouraged by the hateful rhetoric from the administration, rhetoric that killers have quoted word for word.

And make no mistake, domestic terrorism today is overwhelmingly a right-wing issue. In 2017-18, according to the Anti-Defamation League, 87 Americans died in radical-right terror attacks. Over the same two-year period, the U.S. death toll from Islamic terrorism was eight (the Manhattan truck attack), and the number of deaths attributed to leftist violence was… zero. None.

Federal law enforcement has no trouble characterizing white-nationalist violence as terrorism. Homeland Security calls it an “increasingly concerning threat.” The FBI considers the conspiracy lunatics of QAnon as possible domestic terror sources, and the agency is also investigating a shocking 850 right-wing attacks against synagogues and predominantly black churches in just the past three years.

Yet Republicans, from the West Wing down through Congress, continue to blatantly avoid that T-word word, at least in public, because they’re afraid to offend part of their voting base.

It’s a shameful abandonment of two principles American conservatives once claimed to cherish – honor and courage.

Mike Gaynes

Brookings

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