Strains of far-right movements fueled by conspiracy theories, misogyny and anti-vaccine proponents contributed to a modest rise in killings by U.S. domestic extremists last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group. Killings by domestic extremists increased from 23 in 2020 to at least 29 last year, with right-wing extremists killing 26 of those people in 2021, reports the Associated Press. The report says white supremacists, antigovernment sovereign citizens and other adherents of long-standing movements were responsible for most of the 19 deadly attacks in 2021.
The ADL concluded that roughly half of the 2021 killings didn’t have a clear ideological motive, fitting a pattern that stretches back at least a decade. Among the incidents was a shooting rampage in Denver by Lyndon McLeod, who killed five people in December before a police officer fatally shot him. McLeod was involved in the “manosphere,” a toxic masculinity subculture, and harbored revenge fantasies against most of his victims. Right-wing conspiracy theorists killed five people last year in two incidents, both involving “troubled perpetrators,” ADL says. “Prior to the coronavirus, the anti-vaccine movement in the United States did not have a particular ideological leaning and contained both left-leaning and right-leaning activists," the ADL report says. "However, the politicization of the coronavirus and other factors have created many new anti-vaccine conspiracy adherents and given the anti-vaccine movement a distinctly right-wing tone it did not previously have.” A dearth of mass killings in 2021 meant that last year's tally was far lower than in any year between 2015 and 2019, when killings by domestic extremists ranged from 45 to 78.