This Chicago Tribune story amalgamated from its sources and wire services on the LAX shooter is interesting for its language. Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is charged with “murder” and called a “suspected shooter.” The article speaks of his desire to kill TSA employees, i.e. Federal personnel. That is, he conspired against the Federal government.
We know from other reports that Ciancia bought into a far rightwing conspiracy theory that US elites are delivering the country into a “New World Order” or world government. (For Ciancia’s ideology, see Mark Potok at the Southern Poverty Law Center). But this piece does not mention ideology. Nor is his ethnicity even brought up.
Ultimately, Ciancia is depicted as a quiet and troubled loner, probably mentally unbalanced, and his right wing political commitments and conspiracy theories are not even mentioned. That put-upon “whites” in an America becoming majority multi-ethnic and multi-cultural have developed an extremist ideology centering on their betrayal at the hands of a government subordinating itself to a world dominated by non-whites is not deemed worthy of being part of the analysis.
It is worth considering this language because we know how he would have been treated in the press had he been Arab or Muslim. His ideology and what he had faith in would have taken precedence over his being a conspiracy theorist or mentally unbalanced. Likely the word “terrorist” would have appeared in the article.
Even David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, was held for 8 hours by authorities in London for “terrorism” because he was transporting a flashdrive with evidence of government wrongdoing on it. “Terrorism” is acquiring a very narrow semantic field, dedicated to the Middle East on the one hand and whistleblowers on the other. Crazed white conspiracy theorists are exempted because taking them seriously would require changes in America’s bizarre gun laws (changes made effectively by Australia, e.g.). The gun manufacturing lobby, i.e., the NRA, would never allow that.
Conclusion: Arabs and Muslims who melt down are not in today’s America allowed to be just ‘quiet” or “troubled” individuals. They are always seen as emblematic of their ethnic group, and one or two of them are enough to make a conspiracy. (In some cases, a Muslim troubled loner who went postal has been enlisted in the conspiracy simply by pointing to radical magazines he read, whereas the wingnut literature Ciancia clearly hung out with is not being mentioned.)