Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Reprint edn.

1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”

2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.

3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.

4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.

5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.

6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.

7. White terrorists are never called “white.” But other terrorists are given ethnic affiliations.

8. Nobody thinks white terrorists are typical of white people. But other terrorists are considered paragons of their societies.

9. White terrorists are alcoholics, addicts or mentally ill. Other terrorists are apparently clean-living and perfectly sane.

10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.

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18 Responses

  1. Reading a few accounts of this incident I also wondered why the person was referred to as a “shooter”, a term that is almost neutral (as if he was actually just late for the duck season or something) when as you point out, one small change of detail voids any neutral reporting.

    • Ethnicity shouldn’t make a difference. A spade is a spade. They are terrorist, plain and simple. The only distinction that should be made is whether or not they are domestic terrorist or not. That’s it.

  2. We are all prisoners of our media and of our culture. And unfortunately most are willing prisoners with no desire to escape.

  3. Our Country is in grave trouble but the people who seem to have the power to do something about it, seem to have their heads in the sand. How many citizens and children need to be killed until something is done?

  4. Juan, we agree 90% of the time but with all respect my friend I think this is not quite correct.
    1. The people you’re thinking of usually in fact use guns. Most Islamic terrorists use bombs–against hospitals, employment lines, crowded marketplaces, holiday or family festivals, buses, bus stops, airliners (or turn airliners into bombs). Let’s take out no. 1.
    2. The people you’re thinking of are usually troubled loners, often riled up by ultraright extremist social media, Tea Party, Christian fundamentalists, etc. But they are usually troubled loners and don’t collaborate or plan with or even tell others. That’s simply factual, from school shooters–gunmen, people with guns who are usually men– it’s just tracing the facts. Let’s take out no. 2.
    3. Well, I’m on a liberal left and I think right-wing “angry white Congressmen” are as crazy as you do, and so does more than half the country, so let’s take out no. 3.
    4. The families of the people you’re thinking of do weep and wonder what went wrong, because the facts are there and what you’re resisting—their sons are troubled loners and the society they’re in doesn’t collaborate with or support or cheer what they do, and they usually don’t even tell anyone else, much less get help or planning. It goes back as far as Oswald—from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza of the Sandy Hook school shooting at Freetown, Connecticut. The families are often interviewed, such as on the West Bank – and I’m very pro-Palestinian and basically agree with you on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as I think you know – and they are often proud of the people who perpetrated the violence. So the families are in fact often interviewed—if they can be found. So this is factually wrong on both counts. And so let’s also take out no. 4.
    5. The people you’re thinking of are on the “fringe.” So are Islamist terrorists, which is precisely why we say they are the “fringe” of Islam or not true Islam at all, which is both true and honors the great religion of Islam and—and this is in fact just what we say. So “other terrorists” are not mainstream in Islam or even perhaps Islamism, but probably are mainstream in Daish, or Al Qaeda, or Hizbollah or extremists even in Hamas, or virulent fringe settler factions, etc. You’re being so inexact here it’s hard even to make out what you mean. But let’s take out no. 5.
    6. Lone white loser gunmen do factually operate like random events like Tornados. And this is the factual opposite of 9/11, the London underground, Madrid metro, Mumbai, Bali, recent Paris, airline hijackings which are planned or at least inspired by (shoebomber, foiled Christmas bombing, etc), actions of planned, coordinated, mass terrorism, which are as a factual matter usually parts of organized and long-run conspiracies. And there’s a continuum here, but even the shoebomber or foiled Christmas bomber et al. may well have talked to others. And let’s also note that not all “airline hijackings” are by these “other terrorists.” Some are also by “lone white gunmen,” such as in the epidemic of plane hijackings to Cuba in the 70s. (And which incidentally weren’t suicidal, or bombs planted in the cargo hold by non-passangers and either way intended to blow up the planes and kill people, as fringe-Islamist terrorist airline bombings are. So let’s take out no. 6.
    7. White gunmen are never called white because we assume they are white, and so do you, which one would think would be one of the points you yourself would make. Other violence is usually overseas in which case it is helpful to know the background of the perpetrator—who usually, also, are factually part of long-term conspiratorial terrorist organizations. So let’s take out no. 7.
    8. Nobody thinks the people you’re thinking of a typical of white people, even of loners, and even of loners who possess guns, because they’re not. They’re on, to use you’re term, “the fringe.” On the other hand I would say they are on the fringe of the American extremist Tea Party Far Right Wing, and so not typical, but the most violent and extreme fringe of this group. The same as others may be on the most violent and extreme fringe of Islam, or much more accurately Islamism or not true Islam, or however we call it, or on the most violent and extreme fringe of the Israeli occupation Settler movement. So let’s take out no. 8.
    9. Because the people you’re thinking of are usually factually loners with guns, especially school-type shooters, they are in fact mentally ill or similar, and if they shoot at abortion clinics they’re so lunatic and extreme and fringe they’re probably mainly loner and borderline mentally ill too, while in this case also the most lunatic and violent extreme of the ultra-right-wing fringe of the Tea Party, doubtless instigated by Fundamentalist extremists at churches or on social media or white or “Christian nationalist” extremist websites. But the violence factually is virtually never organized, or part of a long-running conspiracy, or planned, or told by the gunman to others, or condoned by virtually anyone, even in that lone gunman’s political circles, no one such as in this case by the Fundamentalist and perhaps rhetorically extremist Colorado Springs church whose associate pastor was also a policeman and shot dead by the lone gunman. These are the true facts. So let’s also take out no. 9.
    10. 10 makes if possible even less sense. To quote you, “Gun control won’t stop them.” Whose view is this supposed to be? Gun control would stop them. It is they , not we, who are against gun control. Part of the problem here is the viewpoint being represented in your points is neverclear and even perhaps can fluctuate. Gun control would deal with lone gunmen. Yes. But the Christian Tea Party fanatic right is against it, and from this group come, yes, the “fringe,” “lone,” “gunmen,” who do this.
    And other terrorists, if you mean from Al Qaeda or Daish, etc., may, yes, require billions to deal with, whether military or in helping build civil societies, or in giving justice to the Palestinians, and so on. So while you’re so unclear I can’t even know exactly what you mean here, let’s definitely take out no. 10.
    And with all respect Juan this leaves nothing left. In friendship and with respects and in peace.

    • There’s a much simpler answer. People who want to drag America back to its barbaric, racist past are called “patriots”, and in reality tens of millions of Americans support that and condemn anyone who shows any signs of moderation or compromise. Therefore, terrorists who are the antithesis of moderation and compromise are the best patriots of all. And of course a patriot supports the supremacy of the race responsible for all that is good about America, so he is 99% likely to be white.

      You claim they’re not part of an intentional conspiracy. The abortion clinic bombers have essentially won their war and gotten away with it. Their violence did not discredit the establishment anti-abortion movement, it strengthened it to the point where it no longer needs the bombers to legislate abortion out of existence piecemeal. We are dealing with a large faction of Americans who turn their worst males into terrorists to carry out plausibly deniable executions of dissenters. Maybe one day after they’ve killed off all of us they will get funding from the regime to go overseas and commit terrorism there to spread its ideology. Saudi Arabia has done exactly that.

    • Number one is interesting. What exactly is the difference between being randomly killed by a gunman and being randomly killed by a suicide bomber, both of which don’t even know you personally? Is one of them a more painful death than the other or what? I don’t get it… (you can’t possibly mean ‘numbers’ unless you want to actually point out the relative inefficience of non-white terrorists, with the exception of 9/11, compared to white hits like Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, Columbine, etc.etc.)

    • neither can you possibly mean ‘more nefarious’?
      This time, the ‘white terrorist’ in question indeed did hit a hospital and people seeking medical assistance. What can be worse than randomly shooting kindergardeners, and where is the difference between shooting the audience of a batman movie and people at a bus stop?

    • Nope. Assuming the color if a lone gunman is white IS racist because media is quick point out the (insert color here) gunman when not white.
      Being a terrorist does not imply a large organization. A lone shooter is a terrorist as much as a lone bomber would be. The only difference is that shooters are mostly white, which is the point entirely.
      The point is that are many distinctions afforded to killers/ shooters/ fringers/ malcontents that are not afforded to persons who are non-white. It is and has been too easy to group all non-white killers as terrorists.

    • Did you feel the breeze of the point rushing right over your head? In basically all of your arguments you actually agreed with the author….

    • Timothy McVeigh used bombs.

      The numerous terrorists who murder doctors in the so-called “anti abortion” fanatic movement use bombs.

      Guns are just cheaper.

  5. This could probably do with some tweaking to reflect the way in which groups like ETA, the IRA, Ulster Freedom Fighters, Red Brigades etc are represented. A useful hypothesis could be that their whiteness is replaced with a different ethnic (Basque, Irish) or political (loyalist, extreme-left) label, thus rendering them ‘honorary non-whites’ and so able to be referred to as ‘terrorist’, with everything that implies (as stated in the original list).

  6. False. Anyone who’s lived in countries that have suffered “white terrorists” for decades such as Ireland or Spain could tell you that those 10 points are completely inaccurate.

  7. Rough R.

    You are forgetting these were not in the USA, nor doing what the ruling class of the USA think should be done.

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