Domestic ‘Terrorism’ Depends on the Perpetrator

In the past years our country has witnessed a wave of domestic terrorist acts mainly perpetrated by white supremacists and right-wing extremists; not Islamist terrorists. Just to highlight a few of these domestic terrorist acts: Three North Carolina Muslim college students killed (two of whom had gotten married a few weeks earlier); Nine people killed in a shooting at an historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina; KKK member and accomplice designed Radiation X-Ray Gun to kill Muslims; White supremacist Wade Michael Page killed six and wounded four in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; Missouri White-Supremacist gang member Joshua L. Hagood shot police officer in the head; Members of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) joined together with neo-Nazis and other white supremacists on May 30 for a “Feds Out of Kentucky” rally in Kentucky; ACLU reports 14 states with more than 3 anti-mosque incidents; Explosion outside the NAACP office in Colorado Springs; Suspects in shooting of four sheriff’s deputies in St. Johns Parish, La. linked to extremists; and many many more.

It seems obvious that our political leadership, from all parties, are playing ‘blind’. They do not want to accept a reality that Domestic Right-Wing and White-Supremacist Terrorism present one of the most serious safety problem in America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) The Year in Hate and Extremism 2015 last year there were 784 active hate groups in America, many of them categorized as ‘organized radical right’ hate groups. These hate groups – that include KKK and neo-Nazi hate groups – are generally broken down into 10% Anti-Immigration, 24% Anti-Muslim, 44% Anti–LGBT, 10% Holocaust Denial; and others. SPLC states that the Anti-Muslim and anti–LGBT sentiment has contributed to considerable growth in the general hate category. America’s domestic terrorists have proven to be more deadly than the Islamist extremists. According to a recent New York Times article: “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.” We need to acknowledge that there is a presence of Islamist extremists that still present a threat to our safety. However, our law enforcement agencies, the political leadership, and media must responsibly address and objectively present the fact that the right-wing and white-supremacist extremists’ threat is real, present, and loud.

It is unfortunate to listen to the main media outlets still addressing the Charleston, S.C. Church massacre’s perpetrator, Dylann Roof, as “suspect” or “gunman” instead of addressing him as the terrorist he is and the massacre as a terrorist act. Also unfortunate is how our law enforcement agencies are still lagging behind with this type of terrorism. It was online activists, and not law enforcement agencies, who discovered Roof’s terrorist manifesto expressing his main terror motivation to initiate a ‘Race War’. The explanation he gave in his manifesto was clear:

“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

Just imagine how different the discourses from our law enforcement agencies, our politicians, and the headlines would be if the perpetrator was of Middle Eastern descent or a Muslim.

The latest news points to fires in at least eight black churches in just ten days. Once again, these acts still not being addressed as potential acts of terror. Unfortunately, if white supremacist groups are finally linked to these church-burning terrorist acts, we should expect a similar coverage as the South Carolina massacre. The word terrorism will again be absent from the politicians, media, and what is worst, from the federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the rest of the DHS dependencies. What are all of them waiting for to stop playing politics and take these terrorists seriously once and for all? Right-wing and white-supremacist domestic terrorists are precisely that: Terrorists. Sadly, it has become customary for our institutions to address these domestic terrorist acts with an apologetic approach. They hasten to try to ‘justify’ or ‘understand’ their acts, detailing their mental pathology, childhood traumas, identity problems, family problems or disturbances issues. On the other hand, these considerations and analysis are absent from those terrorist acts perpetrated by ‘the other’; meaning the non-white, non-right-wing actors.

With all of this happening in our country, it is truly shameful to hear the known xenophobic Congressman Peter King (D-NY) warning our fellow countrymen to be vigilant and suspicious of the American Muslim during this summer’s events such as July 4th . This anti-American message of hate and intolerance should be repudiated by all as it hurts the very fabric that makes our nation strong. This newest bigoted statement from Representative King adds to his long list of declarations and acts focusing on stereotyping the American Muslim, aspiring to portray them as ‘the others’. A strong condemnation from our Congress to King’s hateful rhetoric is long overdue. If Congress is capable of moving swiftly to condemn racist and hateful expressions from world leaders, a timely housekeeping condemnation of their own xenophobic rotten apple’s statements is not only expected but necessary.

Our new realities need an urgent re-focus from the Federal and State law enforcement resources to combat terrorism. We need to call our institutions to no longer turn a blind eye to this elephant in the room of white-supremacist and right-wing domestic terrorism. Our reality just reflects my long standing belief that extremism and terrorism have no specific religion, nor ethnicity, nor political affiliation.

 Image Credit: CreativeCommons / Jagz Mario

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2 thoughts on “Domestic ‘Terrorism’ Depends on the Perpetrator

  1. Well said.

    The surviving sibling who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing is on death row while Eric Rudolph, a serial bomber of abortion clinics and gay night clubs and the 1994 Olympics in Atlanta, managed a sweet plea bargain. The FBI called him a terrorist, but news media either called him an extremist or just “the Olympic Park Bomber” (a celebrity label).

    But I think this is an expansion of a deeper problem than just religious delineations. After Hurricane Katrina, white people were shown in the press “salvaging food” from flooded stores; black people observed in the same behavior were called “looters.” It all depends on who’s defining whom, and how much of oneself one sees in the other. When the majority power structure is at least nominally Christian, those who grow up in it will perhaps inevitably shy away from calling another at least nominal Christian a “terrorist.”

  2. Thanks for your comment Jason. You are right, the problem seems to be a systemic problem going deeper than religious and race. Perhaps, could it be a consequence of the USA being a nation of immigrants in a constant struggle to tolerate and accept the other?

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