One of the reasons these incidents tend to get classed as "hate crime" rather than "terrorism" is that they are typically carried out by "lone wolves", often "self-radicalised" rather than networked. But typically they have made connections - sometimes online, but often face-to-face - with far right groups. It is far right ideology, not (just) visceral racist hate, that inspires them to mass murder.*
Worth noting is that conspiracy theory, and almost always antisemitic conspiracy theory, rather than racial prejudice, that is usually at the heart of their ideology (as John-Paul Pagano shows here, exposing the antisemitic conspiracism central to Dylann Roof's worldview, in which blacks are the manipulated pawns of Jews, the real enemy).**
Although Fox News and its ilk like to portray the left as full of hate, there have only been a small number of comparable left-wing attacks in the last decade or so: Joseph Andrew Stack and Lee Malvo, and earlier Ted Kaczynski, the eco-primitivist Unabomber.*** It's striking, though, that their worldviews were conspiracist too, and that they shared more memes with survivalists and fringe right groups such as the militia movement and sovereign citizens than with the socialist far left.
British liberals like to chuckle and sneer at American political wackiness, but this is a British problem too. This week we have seen the trial of Zack Davies, Britain's would-be Dylann Roof, who carried out a machete attack in a Tesco's supermarket in Mold, on a Sikh man he thought was Muslim, attempting to behead him as Lee Rigby was beheaded. Thankfully, a former soldier bravely intervened and saved Dr Bhambra's life.
Davies is not the first. Since David Copeland's nail-bombings at the end of the last century, we've had Robert Cottage, Martyn Gilleard, Nathan Worrell, Neil Lewington, Pavlo Lapshyn, Ryan McGee. In 2013, the Home Secretary
disclosed that one in ten cases referred to a Home Office scheme to stop youngsters being caught up in terrorism related to the Far Right. Seventeen right-wing extremists are serving prison sentences linked to terrorism, including a man who built up the biggest arms cache uncovered recently in Britain, two men convicted of preparing to use home-made poison in an attack and another jailed for circulating terrorist literature.For some reason, these attacks are not newsworthy in Britain in the way Islamist terrorist attacks are, which is why many of the names I've listed might not ring a bell.
Again, most of these British attackers are "lone wolves" - but most have connected to far right organisations. McGee, for example, had a mum who was active in the EDL.
Zack Davies was connected with a particularly unsavoury far right group, National Action.**** Matthew Collins writes about him and his NA connection here. While Davies thought his victim was Muslim, the heart of National Action ideology (paralleling Dylann Roof) is conspiracist antisemitism.
Davies also admired ISIS in a twisted way, and at his trial clearly emphathised with Lee Rigby's killers even as he claimed he wanted to avenge Rigby's death. This is not so surprising: Davies' fascism mirrors jihadi Islamism in many ways. It is disappointing that many anti- and "counter"-jihadis fail to take the far right seriously, just as many anti-fascists fail to take Islamism seriously.
*For more detail on Roof's brand of white supremacism, see Matthew Lyons.
**This is an aside, but it is interesting the lengths that some "anti-Zionists" who like to think that antisemitism is dead will go in their denial. Max Blumenthal rightly identifies the relationship between Roof's ideology and views that circulate on the fringes of the American ultra-conservatism. But he wrongly claims that Roof loathes leftist and liberal Jews for their "agitation of the black race". It is not leftist and liberal Jews (the good, exceptional Jews of whom Blumenthal presumably includes himself) that Roof loathes; it is Jews in general. And Blumenthal's buddy David Sheen managed to make it about Israel by writing 1000 words about an obscure Israeli site that shockingly expressed empathy for the Charleston victims, thus committing the awful crime of "hasbara", even though churches are attacked in Israel too. CJ Werleman went a step further, claiming, against all the evidence, that Zionism is one of the ingredients of Roof's white supremacist ideology.
***Thanks to Manfred Rosenbauer and Just Quoting for these examples, via Twitter.
****I'd like to say more about the interesting variant of fascism that National Action represent, including their mimicry of anti-fascist and anti-capitalist style, a phenomenon which Czech antifa have named "the big neo-Nazi crib". But that's for some other time.