US Press once again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism

(By Juan Cole)

My Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others, judging by the Facebook shares, must be among the more popular pieces I have ever written. It keeps being proven correct by American journalism every day.

I get hot under the collar thinking about all the effort the US government is expending to monitor who we call and where we are when we do it–in the hundreds of millions!– and about all the surveillance of innocent American citizens of Muslim faith and of mosques, when the American fascists receive much less focus. If a group is armed and announces its purpose is to spread hate of another group, wouldn’t that warrant some surveillance? By surveiling us all, precious person power is being wasted.

Thus, we had the horrible day-before-Passover attack on two Jewish community facilities outside Kansas City, KS allegedly committed by a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, which left 3 people dead. My heart goes out to the innocent victims of hate. I put “Kansas” and “terrorism” in a search of Google News and did not get a single hit on this incident, which tells me that no US news services are describing it that way. Heck, the LA Times said authorities are cautioning that it is too soon even to call the shootings a “hate crime.” Since the shooter is said to have shouted “Heil Hitler,” I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was a hate crime. And I’m also pretty sure it was a form of terrorism.

Likewise, if you search for Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who shot down Sikhs, “and terrorism,” you only get opinion pages and blogs, not MSM sites.

But a where a lone gunman committing a hate crime is a Muslim, there’s a demand to use the T-word. Moreover, there is the peculiar American practice of laying collective guilt on all Muslims for what any one wacko amongst them does. White people get a pass on having violent and destructive wackos among them. (In fact, almost all American Muslims are normal law-abiding and productive citizens– many are physicians and other professionals, business people, etc.; it isn’t their fault if West Asia is going through some turmoil these days; Europe went through a lot of turmoil and violence 1914-1945 and we don’t think Europeans in general are weird.)

Or then you have the stand-off between armed far right wing extremists in Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management. For more on this episode see this diary at Daily Kos. They openly admit to being armed private militias with names like “Praetorian Guard,” and they are breaking the law and trying to intimidate government officials. But Federal authorities are treating them with kid gloves. Even though they are certainly organized and deploying terror to make a political point, no one is calling them “terrorists.” (The Oklahoma City bombings caused LE to be cautious in confronting the far right extremists; maybe that’s why they are monitoring millions of innocent people instead, who they know won’t push back.)

This is the way the US Federal Code defines domestic terrorism:

” the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. ”

If the person accused of the shootings at Jewish facilities is guilty, he was certainly trying to intimidate a civilian population! And the Nevada cattle grazing extremists, if their behavior is being accurately described in the press, are trying to affect the conduct of government with threatened violence.

Note that the Federal Code doesn’t mention anything about the terrorism having to be committed by an organization (though the KKK and the “Patriot” militia movement are organizations). And it doesn’t say anything about the definition not applying to white people.

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Related video:

WCPO: “Three people killed in shootings at multiple Jewish centers in Kansas”

28 Responses

  1. Paragraph six: … (The Oklahoma City bombings caused LE to be cautious in confronting the far right extremists; maybe that’s why they are monitoring millions of innocent people instead, who they know won’t push back.)…
    Your best insight yet, Prof COLE.
    Stop The Illegal And Immoral Wars!

  2. Vickijee

    @DanteB4u makes it uncomfortable4 their media owners, who have helped sell hate using false equivalency of GOPracist hits on PBO

  3. Terrorism: noun: An act of violence committed by “them.” Acts of violence committed by “us” are peacekeeping efforts to keep America safe and/or bring democracy to nations we want in our empire.

  4. America has its crazies,no question.however equating our crazies to the highly organized and financed Islamic extremist crazies,and their many and serious attacks here(911)..and around the world,is a long stretch,by any measure

  5. The victims define an act of “white terrorism” more than the killer, IMO. Wade Michael Page was a white terrorist because he murdered non-white Sikhs. He saw them as brown skinned foreigners and murdered them for that reason.

    The killer in Kansas City murdered a white Jewish grandfather, grandson and a woman in the parking lot of a Jewish retirement home because he was anti-Semitic. If the killer was a white terrorist why did he murder three white people? Unlike Page, he didn’t kill because of the victims skin color.

    Why isn’t Adolf Hitler labeled a white terrorist and the Holocaust an act of white terrorism in the extreme?

    • ” If the killer was a white terrorist why did he murder three white people?”

      The understanding is that he wanted to kill Jewish people. Skin color is not the only reason for creating terror.

  6. Hate crime, murder. That’s enough to hang the bum.
    I gotta problem with the “terrorist” tag. It’s been used on activists like watershed groups, political groups and even Quakers I think. Mandela was a terrorist if you believe the government.
    “Terrorist” has been so misused that’s it’s lost it’s meaning.

  7. The killer in Kansas City, Frazier Glenn Cross, is well known. He’s run for Congress and even been on the Howard Stern show.

    Cross is a racist like Page, but much more of an anti-Semite.

  8. Stacey Dunn

    @DanteB4u I also notice that while “Islamic terrorism” is a frequently-used phrase, they’re not using “Christian terrorism” here.

  9. Ironically, Cliven Bundy has been hoist by his own (the cowmen’s) petard. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 was created in response to the demands of Western ranchers just like Mr. Bundy. The act made it possible for ranchers with money and connections to exclude others from what had been open range.

    Before the BLM-administered act, Mr. Bundy would have competed and possibly feuded with anyone else who wanted to run livestock on the open range next to his 150-acre ranch in Nevada. In the late 1800’s, when folk like the Bundy’s moved to the West, they faced grazing competition from Spanish ranching families who’d been in the area since the 1500’s along with many others (Native Americans and immigrants including the Basque, the Germans, and the Irish) who also wanted to feed their sheep, goats, and/or cattle.

    A grazing allotment is generally good for ten years and buys the purchaser freedom from feuding with neighbors, freedom from land turned to desert by overgrazing, and freedom from doing repairs (water improvements, noxious weed removal, wildfire prevention and recovery, etc.) that are done by the feds.

    If the BLM was not providing the services that Mr. Bundy purchased, then he should have kept records and taken them to court for their delinquency. Suing them for removing the competition makes no sense.

    I’d be willing to bet that if the public lands where Mr. Bundy has his cattle were scorched by a severe, national-disaster level wildfire, he would be more than happy to see federal crews arriving to restore the native flora for his cows.

    • mind-expanding perspective. Thanks. I didn’t know this BLM backstory.
      I had heard the angle about Nevada partisan politics, which may be covered at Kos.

  10. And those people who murder health care providers, blow up Planned Parenthood and other clinics providing health services for women are not called terrorists either.

    • some of that has to do not so much with the provision of health services but the provision of abortions.
      textbook terrorism, nonetheless.

  11. The US Government has a long history of training and funding terrorists to destabilize and topple democratically elected governments. They are trying it in Syria and Venezuela and just did it in Ukraine, to name a few.

    We have met the terrorists and they are US.

  12. I’m fairly sure that it’s not just racial*, but racial-ideological that makes the media unwilling to label them as terrorists. Witness “ecoterrorists,” for instance, who are by and large white and whom get stuck with the label even in the absence of a clear connection to the ideology of the crime. (One example here is the Cleveland case, where the alleged crime–’blowing up a bridge’–presented a connection to environmental issues somewhere between non-sensical and nonexistent.) Or, as another commenter above noted, Occupy.

    What looks like a stronger argument, to me, is that “terrorist” doesn’t get applied to white conservative men and white conservative organizations, but that *both* parts are key to the operation of the label. So the racial aspect–whiteness–is necessary for avoiding being a ‘terrorist’ but not sufficient.

    *including historically “suspect,” now white groups such as Catholics (Irish, then swarthy southern Europeans) and Jews.

  13. The shooter screamed “Heil Hitler”. Therefore, the act was a hate crime. If he had shouted “Aliuh Akbar”, then it would have been terrorism.

  14. Imagine that the Bundy ranching family in Nevada, instead of being white and Mormon, are all black and Muslim. And imagine that they, too, believe not only that the federal government should have no jurisdiction over the public land adjoining their ranch, but also that a second revolutionary war should topple the U.S. government.

    Imagine that, just like Mr. Bundy, they lost two court decisions and are expected to either pay one million in overdue fees or have their cattle seized to pay the debt. Imagine that they send out a call, via Facebook and Twitter, for all like-minded thinkers to take up arms and prepare to fight the agents sent to collect the cattle.

    How would the media describe some 2000 black, Muslim men, armed with automatic rifles and shotguns, who drive from all across the country to show up in Nevada ready to kill government officials?

    How would the media portray those black, Muslim men when they used their guns to shut down I-15, a major interstate freeway, forcing hundreds of travelers to bake in the hot desert sun until the road could be re-opened?

    What would right-wing pundits say about those black, Muslim men who were crouched on overpasses training their sniper sights on the cowboys and drivers hired by the federal government to move the cattle?

    Would they agree with those black, Muslim militants who planned to put their wives and girlfriends on the front lines so there would be news footage of federal agents shooting women?

    Would Nevada politicians, senator Dean Heller and Governor Brian Sandoval, still throw their support behind a Bundy who said, “. . . I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing,” if he were Muslim and black?

    Try as hard as I can, I can’t see people on the right using any word other than “terrorist” to describe homegrown, black, Muslim militants who are willing to use violence to support their belief that the U.S. government is meaningless.

    And that shows us exactly how far Americans have to go before we define each other by character, not race or religion.

  15. Rachel Maddow spoke to this last night. Murder/terrorist actions are despicable acts and it doesn’t matter who commits them.

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