Friday, June 19, 2015

Why the Right Doesn't Want to Call Charleston an Act of Terrorism

Had the murders in Charleston the night before last been committed by a Muslim, Fox News and other right wing outlets would have been screaming about terrorist attacks to the high heavens.  However, since the apparent shooter was white, there is either silence from these mouth pieces or attempts to dissemble and avoid calling Dylann Storm Roof what he is - a domestic terrorist.  Be he mentally imbalanced or not, his actions were certainly no more insane than that of Islamic suicide bombers.  The real issue is that the right doesn't want to admit that their ideology encourages extremist to commit acts of violence and fans hatred.  A piece in the New York Times looks at this hesitancy to admit that acts of terrorism are committed by right wing Americans.  Another looks at Roof's growing adherence to white supremacy views.   Here are highlights from the former:
The massacre of nine African-Americans in Charleston has been classified as a possible hate crime, apparently carried out by a 21-year-old white man who once wore an apartheid badge and other symbols of white supremacy. But many civil rights advocates are asking why the attack has not officially been called terrorism.

Against the backdrop of rising worries about violent Muslim extremism in the United States, advocates see hypocrisy in the way the attack and the man under arrest in the shooting have been described by law enforcement officials and the news media.

Assaults like the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the attack on an anti-Islamic gathering in Garland, Tex., last month have been widely portrayed as acts of terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists. Critics say, however, that assaults against African-Americans and Muslim Americans are rarely if ever called terrorism.

Moreover, they argue, assailants who are white are far less likely to be described by the authorities as terrorists.

“We have been conditioned to accept that if the violence is committed by a Muslim, then it is terrorism,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group in Washington, said Thursday in a telephone interview.

“If the same violence is committed by a white supremacist or apartheid sympathizer and is not a Muslim, we start to look for excuses — he might be insane, maybe he was pushed too hard,” Mr. Awad said.

“We have a man who intentionally went to a black church, had animus toward black people and assassinated an elected official and eight other people,” he said. “It seems he was motivated by a desire to terrorize and kill black people.”

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate, especially such use as a political weapon or policy.”

Civil rights advocates said the Charleston attack not only fit the dictionary definition of terrorism but reflected a history of attempts by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups to terrorize African-Americans.

“The first antiterrorism law in U.S. history was the Klan Control Act, so really, this has been the definition of terrorism,” William Jelani Cobb, a writer and director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, said in a Twitter post.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a venerable civil rights group, said the Charleston massacre looked like terrorism to him.

“While the terrorist label is often applied to attacks, plots and conspiracies carried out on behalf of designated terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, politically motivated violence is not the sole domain of supporters of designated terrorist groups,” Mr. Foxman said in a statement.
Expect more dissembling from the right as it tries to dodge the consequences of its own rhetoric.

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