Looking to “blow off steam,” a pair of teenagers broke into the Ohio Chapel United Methodist Church near Columbus, Ind. last year to steal propane tanks. The vandals turned crosses upside down, smashed windows, and even torched a pew stored in the basement.
Non-lethal incidents like church vandalism are a far cry from the bloodshed that occurred in the shadow of the rebuilt World Trade Center on Oct. 31, 2017, when ISIS-aligned Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented pickup truck down a crowded bicycle path, killing eight people and wounding 12. Yet, a Quartz report published Sept. 11 reviewing terrorist attacks in 2017 compares numerous low-level acts of vandalism to less frequent — but far more lethal — jihadist violence, to argue that most terrorist acts in the United States are motivated by right-wing extremism.
Analyzing data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an open-source dataset maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, Quartz reporter Luiz Romero concluded that “almost two-thirds of terror attacks in the US last year” were perpetrated by right-wing extremists.
The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which collects and distributes its own “Terror from the Right” statistics, was happy to run with Romero’s findings. But a case-by-case review of the 2017 raw data finds that Quartz’s study is incredibly flawed and misleading.