Top 5 Ways White Terrorism means never having to Say you’re Sorry

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

I’ve argued for some time that US media treats white terrorists differently than others. And, I noted recently that the US press seems to have been astonished when the governor of Minnesota branded the bombing of a mosque “terrorism.” We have more evidence today to make my point.


The right wing in the United States has made hay by insisting on calling Muslim extremists “radical Islamic extremists.” This phrase is propaganda, since it is strident and redundant. Are there, like, any non-radical extremists? Moreover, “Islamic” refers to the ideals of the Muslim religion, just as Judaic refers to Jewish ethics and high culture. You can have a Jewish criminal. Bugsy Siegel comes to mind. And you can have a Muslim criminal. But you can’t have a Judaic criminal and you can’t have an Islamic one.

In contrast to this rhetorical overkill regarding the small Muslim fringe, American pundits do not insist that the KKK, white supremacists and alt-Neo-Nazis who descended on Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday be termed “radical white extremists.”

In fact, Trump refused to single these creeps out for condemnation at all:


Whenever a Muslim terrorist commits an attack, right wing television anchors bring on hapless ordinary Muslims and demand to know why they and their leaders have not denounced terrorism.

(Actually Muslim leaders from al-Azhar Seminary in Cairo to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq have gone blue in the face denouncing al-Qaeda, ISIL, terrorism, etc. But Western pundits are so ignorant they don’t even know who the leaders of the Muslim faith are and so can’t hear the condemnations. Moreover, ISIL wasn’t defeated in the main by Westerners but by Muslim-heritage troops who took high casualties.)

Secular Talk: “‘Why Don’t Moderate Muslims Condemn Terrorism?’ – They Do.”

But when white terrorists strike, as with Dylann Roof or those pond scum in Charlottesville, no one demands that the leaders of the white people denounce white terrorism. I guess that would be Frank Church, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. As far as I can see, the only reason for the Southern Baptist church to exist is to provide a place where white Baptists can meet undisturbed by Black Baptists. So what with being so white and all, it should be asked to denounce the terrorism in Charlottesville. Or maybe Southern Baptists don’t speak out on this issue because they secretly harbor sympathies? (Sorry to do that to you, Baptists; I know you’re good people. it is just to demonstrate what it feels like to be a mainstream American Muslim.)


When Muslim terrorists commit vehicular homicide in order to terrorize people, as on the London Bridge last spring, that is called terrorism, or sometimes “lone wolf” terrorism.

But when a far right extremist white guy commits vehicular homicide in Charlottesville against normal people protesting Nazism and the Confederate legacy of slavery, I swear to God, CBS/AP called it “Driver in fatal Charlottesville wreck”


The article notes that not only did that hateful person allegedly kill a woman crossing the street, he badly injured a whole gaggle of people who are not being mentioned in the news:

“Five of the injured were listed in critical condition Saturday night. Four thers were in serious condition, sixwere in fair condition, and four others were in good condition, authorities said Saturday.”

I don’t know, I guess those ISIL guys from Libya in London could have been characterized as “Drivers in fatal London Bridge wreck.” I mean, it is not incorrect or anything. It is just effing pusillanimous.


The US government has a whole program for “combating violent extremism.” It initially worked against both Muslim and white supremacist extremism.

Trump last winter ordered that the program stop combating white supremacist extremism and focus only on Muslims. This despite the fact that you’re many times more likely to be harmed by a white supremacist than by a Muslim in the US.


Muslim extremists are often depicted as people who cannot adapt to the modern world and are stuck in the eighth century.

White extremists, despite their bizarre attachment to plantation slavery and National Socialist memorabilia from the 1930s, are not similarly branded as stuck in the past. In fact, what with their Alt media like the far, far, far, far Right Breitbart (Volkische Beobachter in the original German), they are often seen as cutting edge modernists.

21 Responses

  1. Fortunately not everyone appears committed to such linguistic inexactitudes

    Several Republican senators of the United States have condemned the recent events in the city of Charlottesville as an act of "domestic terrorism and called for investigation in the matter.

    link to

  2. If one is an American citizen who does not adhere Trump’s vision of white •••hole NEO-NAZI America, then one is in great danger and the white •••hole NEO-NAZI is protected.

    Taking Back America by MURDER of innocents is now SOP for NEO-NAZI Trumpists. If the driver of the death car in Charlottesville does not receive the penalty of death many more innocents will die at the hands of inbred, FAS retards like James Alex Fields Jr.

  3. With ALL the posting you’ve done beating around this particular bush—over the course of years—you are failing to call out that while individual manifestations of this propaganda (because that is precisely what it is) may be spontaneous, its overall occurrence is hardly accidental.

    In fact, I think you know exactly how this has all come about, and I admire and respect your forbearance in broaching this phenomena in the careful, deliberate and measured way you have. Still, I’d suggest you rethink whether the forbearance you have shown to this point needs to be re-calibrated. Certainly, you have to make an actual difference rather than merely vent in a way that only marginalizes or discredits you, but the impact of this influence is entirely too powerful and the stakes too high not to call a spade a spade and continue on in this tepid a manner.

  4. While on subject of hate crimes against Muslims, we should not forget the hate crimes of the state against blacks.

    Here is an immigrant from India running for
    governor of IL.

    The start of the article in these paragraphs followed by a heading in large type and bold ” As The British Divided India, Rauner Divides Illinois”

    CHICAGO ALDERMAN AMEYA PAWAR, one of several Democrats vying for his party’s nomination to run for Illinois governor against incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner, doesn’t think the drug war was a failure.

    “The war on drugs was a success,” he said in a speech on criminal justice reform given last month. “Because the war on drugs was never actually on drugs. It was against black people.”

    Pawar used that address to explain the true history of the modern drug war, which former President Richard Nixon utilized to crack down on the anti-war left and African-Americans.

    As part of his campaign, he’s vowing to end Illinois’s participation in that drug war through a battery of policies: making minor possession of controlled substances no longer a felony, legalizing and taxing marijuana, expanding addiction treatment, establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to air police-community grievances, and, most radically, using his commutation powers as governor to simply commute the sentences of nonviolent low-level drug offenders.


    Trump continues to show America who we are.

    How far does the empire have to decline before American Exceptionalism will be addressed?

    Jeremy Scahill was in Columbus with a preview of his film “Dirty Wars.” Jeremy has for years been an important journalist covering our wars including wars in the middle east with reporting about Yemen years ago. A friend asked me to ask him the question “Why are you still alive?”. Jeremy’s first book exposed the military contract group Blackwater who is now proposing taking over US war “training” in Afghanistan.

    He was here shortly after the Edward Snowden documents were beginning to appear. Instead of following my friends’ advice, I asked him “given the appearance of the documents from Snowden, do you think that American Exceptionalism will decrease?”

    His answer

    NO! American exceptionalism is so deeply buried in American culture I have no idea what can overcome it.

    Well, maybe there is something good from Trump???

    • To give you an idea of how stubborn American exceptionalism might be, consider a phenomenon that we might once have called “European exceptionalism”. 1400 years ago Europe was a collapsed civilization, held together only by blind faith in a Christian church that exploited the very collapse it helped cause to seize certain levers of power. The explosive rise of Islam on the African side of that empire rebooted culture, economics and science, but Europeans held out and defeated Islamic invaders advancing from Spain into France.

      Now any Moslem at that time could have given any Euro-Christian at that time exactly the same argument that many Euro/American greedbags are giving to Moslems today, from the occupation of Iraq to the HQs of multinational corporations. “Our civilization has proven superior; surrender to us and your children will have better lives.” But in both cases, the “inferiors” said Hell No. That stubbornness and lack of appreciation for the humanity of aliens is a weakness if it causes your extinction, but you just may outlast those who lecture you for reasons beyond anyone’s control. Eventually, your descendants may be the ones on top again, and they will have learned nothing.

      This absurd cycle may well be America’s fate, unless the willpower of the barbarian can be defeated by reason. What we see instead is that the barbarians learn enough technology to get by and bide their time for generations on a tribal mythology of grievance and revenge.

      • Islamic influence itself declined over the centuries since the Dark Ages.

        It lost Spain, large areas of Eastern Europe, and the Ottoman Empire collapsed after the end of WWI, leaving the Western powers – such as France and Great Britain to occupy North Africa, Iraq, and the Levant.

        The U.S. is a neo-colonial power in the Middle East – exploiting Israel, Egypt and the Persian Gulf states with its promises of foreign aid and establishment of military bases to perpetuate its welcome.

        America’s reach into the deepest recesses into areas of Islamic fundamentalism is perhaps symbolized by the McDonald’s restaurant franchise operated in Baalbek, Lebanon – a stronghold of the Hezbollah Party.

        If we look to the Far East, China is being co-opted economically by America – as they are learning to eat at McDonald’s and drive cars manufactured in the U.S. while enriching themselves with American industrial technology and receiving interest payments on the U.S. national debt that they play a large part in financing.

        America has 20 billion dollars in annual bilateral trade with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam – the same nation it mercilessly bombed in the 1960s and early 70s.

        America is everywhere in the world. As with the British of yore – the sun never sets on the American Empire.

  5. Let’s call the racist whites and breitbart-ites what they are, Nazis.
    No more alt-right, no more neo- whatever, no more white nationalism.
    They’re Nazis, and nothing but Nazis.

    • In my heart, I agree. But I’ve been watching this namecalling for decades, and I’ve seen American regressives put a lot of work into truthiness-based arguments that they’re nothing at all like the Nazis because they “don’t believe in Big Government.” As long as our public’s understanding of Nazism is based on the stereotype of German bureaucracy and intervention in markets, this lie will work. The reality on that front was more complex.

      You have to find a way to make people understand that the cornerstone of fascist belief is human inequality, and that fascism embraced all things that seemed to prove inequality in the crude way that racists always do. Thus fascists are not opposed to private property; they are opposed to “aliens” and “traitors” being allowed to earn enough property to matter. (Good ol’ American hiring discrimination, supported by right-wingers as an inalienable liberty, fits perfectly with this.) Their mentality is essentially of their race being a warrior tribe who have won a trial by combat to own and control EVERYTHING (and everyone) within a certain “nation”. Markets, government, religion, anything that makes that control more absolute is embraced to the extent it contributes.

      Once in power, that all changes to a cynical collaboration with the capitalist oligarchs. But fascists have to be stopped before that point. No fascist regime has ever been overthrown by its own people, only by foreign invasions. With the exception of Franco’s Spain, which could not wall itself off from the wealthier democracies that flourished in Europe after WW2 and was worn down over 40 years.

      Before you can label them as Nazis with any credibility, you have to get them to say what mechanisms of our racist past they will restore in making America great “again”, and then call those out as being both oppressive and supremacist. You have to paint them into a rhetorical corner where they finally admit that they will use state power to promote Whites over everyone else in the private realm, and restore a “natural” White monopoly on power.

      Hitler had a great disadvantage in his anti-Semitism of having to restore attitudes that seemed to be dying out in Wilhelmine Germany. It was not surprising that he used the revolutionary framing of a need for a dictatorship to cleanse society from the depravity of bourgeois liberalism that, once successful, would magically wither away (in his case into a Medievalized society under Nazi nobles, not a worker’s paradise). It’s much easier for an American racist, who can appeal to a fantasy of turning the clock back not 300 years, but only 50 or so, and not back to a feudal order but to the simple capitulation to individual States and their local oligarchs, to get White Supremacy back into power.

  6. And this is all of a piece right? Putin is victor in the sense that his goal was to destabilize the US. Yes, we go on with our mundane diurnial tasks. But meantime Trump’s ignorance has made any legislative agenda moot (thankfully given how nefarious it is), voting rights are being quietly undermined, the environment is being degraded, people are fearful about the possibility of war and instability in East Asia (and Venezuela – Venezuela – really?!?!), and our own security at home as a result, and the markets are starting to get uneasy. Fomenting racism and the alt-right is very much a part and parcel to this.

    Keep an eye on the markets especially – money, not ethics, is the only language many people understand, particularly the GOP. Once Trump destabilizes the economy to the detriment of our financial overlords he will be forced to go, unless the GOP comes to its senses and realizes what a menace he is to national and global security (but I am not holding my breath).

    To deny Russia’s hand in fostering this at this point requires as much special pleading and mental backflips as a climate denier (yeah, Trump and Putin discussed adoption for an hour at the G20 because their love and concern for children is soooo well documented: PA-LEEZ!).

    And yes Juan, keep driving this home – this was an act of white (and likely Christian) extremist terrorism.

  7. I despise these guys and their hypocrisy but let’s be honest: we define “terrorism” based on whether we’re among the targets in some small or large sense. The instant we can see a crack of daylight between us and those intended to be terrorized, we can freely choose to label the perpetrators as terrorists or not terrorists depending on our own agendas.

    What that means when it happens in Virginia is that I’m revealing that I’m personally not “terrorized” by attacks on those who intend to obtain civil rights and equality by any means possible, because I intend to advocate those things from safe places even if it means they will be defeated. I’ve already retreated to impotence. Whereas I AM terrorized by Blacks legally protesting police violence, because I need those violent cops to protect my goodies by maintaining a state of terror over minority populations. Sympathies are weak, interests are murderous.

    Instead of continuing the self-serving arguments on who is the terrorist, we can learn a lot by listening to who does or does not consider themselves terrorized. And it reveals that real advocates for minorities’ rights are as isolated and endangered today as they were in the 1870s, when that bulk of the Northern population that had supported the Civil War decided that the KKK was not terrorizing them in particular, so they wouldn’t spend tax dollars to stop what the KKK was helping to build.

    • President Grant signed into law the most comprehensive civil rights legislation in U.S. history following the Civil War to protect blacks and empower them.

      This would include the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution and such legislation as the Ku Klux Klan Act, the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1871. Grant’s actions to protect emancipated blacks were the cornerstone of his presidential legacy.

  8. Just in time!!! Republicans packing the courts for the last 30 to 40 years come through to them big time!!!

    Federal Court Rules Citizens Have No Right to Film Politicians & Police in Public:
    In a stunning departure from lengthy precedent, a federal appeals court has ruled citizens have no right to film politicians and police in public.

    From the article

    Contradicting the rulings of six others federal courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals annihilated free speech rights in upholding a district court decision stating citizens do not have the right to film public officials — politicians, police, and others — in public.

    In affirming the decision of the lower court to dismiss, the Eighth Circuit effectively ended free speech activist Matthew Akins’ challenge to the Columbia, Missouri, Police Department, which he accuses of unlawfully stopping and arresting him on multiple occasions — though nearly all charges were later dropped — as he filmed their encounters with the public, in public.

    Akins says the spate of arrests and harassment from law enforcement is brazen retaliation for the nature of his activist work — filming officers on the job.

    As a journalist and founder of Citizens for Justice in 2011, a group committed to monitoring police for accountability purposes, Akins frequently stopped to record officers’ interactions with the general public — a tactic employed by a plethora of civilian impartial observation groups to stem an epidemic of police violence and veritable impunity in courts, so common to law enforcement officers who misbehave.

    • This seems to be my day for comments.

      I attended the yearly liberal conference NetRoots Nation five times. NetRoots is the internet version of grass roots politics.

      I did not go this year, but every year I went I attended the panel put on by Nan Arron of the Alliance For Justice. I complemented her that I thought it was the best panel at the conference.

      There was an important article today that recounted the change that has occurred. This year, suddenly, liberals realized that they have not had a coherent policy about the courts.

      If you permit me another diversion, the democratic party has ignored election integrity for decades. There were two articles within the last couple of years that made the case of the 40+ “democracies” the US has the worst election integrity. Once again, the over the top Trump administration continues and makes worse the decades of election crimes. Not only have the democrats ignored this important issue to push for election integrity, their neglect is a crime against democracy. End of diversion which is not a diversion as one continues to follow the decline of an empire.

      Back to the panel discussion at NetRoots nation last weekend.

      The second paragraph

      One year later, after an emotionally deflating electoral collapse, Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice began another edition of her annual courts panel at the conference. The Trump era has brought the outline of a dialectical synthesis to these competing visions of the role of the judiciary. A realization that maybe they’ve fundamentally had this judiciary thing wrong all along.

      Another paragraph below. The article notes that with high levels of activism, maybe something will be done. … From the article

      This failure to embrace a coherent progressive judicial ideology was indirectly highlighted when Aron reminded the audience that Trump campaigned on a list of judges he’d consider putting on the Supreme Court. But the real point is that this list existed before Trump’s candidacy. The Heritage Foundation had its cast list of ideological purity drawn up already. Progressives have no companion list that the movement can fervently rally around.

      In Wake Of Trump, Liberals Start To Realize They’ve Had The Judiciary All Wrong:
      Conservatives seem to ignite more passion for the judicial appointments… progressives are changing that.

  9. White Supremacy is like a cosmic Confederate patriotism that survived the Civil War. It’s a patriotism that feels so comfortable to those with unfilled needs for superiority, that it finds favor well beyond the borders of the Confederacy, eg President Trump of New York.

    Those Confederate statues, flags, and memorabilia reinforce that patriotism, and justify violence, because few events in our history have been as violent as the Civil War. Robert E Lee was an legendary expert at military violence.

    Every statue and flag removed is step in the right direction.

  10. How about “radical Islamist moderates” What seems to me missed because of the focus on the horrible murder by the “motorist” (Remember “motorist” Rodney King??) is that there were thousands of torch carrying terrorists, wearing swastikas, and screaming at people. The video I’ve seen is horrifying. Don’t let it all devolve on one “motorist.”

    • At this point it is premature to conclude whether or not the ramming of counter-protestors by James Fields in his Dodge Challenger was premeditated or whether the event was the result of a conspiracy with others at the rally.

      The FBI will likely try to ascertain when Fields formed his intent to ram the attendees and the reasons for doing so, plus whether Fields may have been intoxicated, had psychiatric disturbances or other mitigating factors that would amount to a form of diminished capacity.

      What is known about Fields is that he was 20 years old with no criminal record with a brief stint in the U.S. Army who had been a few hours earlier demonstrating with one of the white supremacist movements in Charlottesville known as Vanguard and displaying their shield.

      Expect his court-appointed criminal defense attorney to interpose some type of insanity or diminished capacity defense and request a psychiatric evaluation.

      The current state charge is second degree murder – which suggests that the prosecution has no evidence suggesting the incident was planned and conviction of that crime usually does not result in a life sentence.

      The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice could, however, seek a grand jury indictment for federal civil rights violations that could result in a sentence of life in prison for Fields.

  11. You do make some excellent points. Language can be a dangerous thing if used incorrectly or unwisely. the MSM in the U.S.A. is a case in point. Trump is a case in point. he is never going to utter those little words, “this is the work of home grown white terrorists”. That is his base. We may well see how the “poor young man” who drove his car into the crowd has a mental illness, hit the wrong peddle, etc.

    When I saw the pictures of the crowd of white racists, Nazi’s, etc. it looked like men from the 1950s. it was truly horrifying. Not much has changed in all these years. Marching on a university campus at night with torches lite, omg it was truly scary.

    When we wonder how countries slip into chaos and we wonder why, just have a look at what happened. A few more cities, a few more universities and there goes the U.S.A. into a new civil war. The terror isn’t coming from North Korea, it is right here in the U.S.A.

  12. Not fair to the Southern Baptist, whatever its past history. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention between 2012-14 was an African American. Russel Moore who iserves as the head of their Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has stated famously and unequivocally that the cross and the Confederate Flag cannot stand together without one burning up the other.

    • “Not fair to the Southern Baptist, whatever its past history. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention between 2012-14 was an African American.” Which makes it all better, whatever the prose?

      Trump exploits Southern Baptists based on “it’s past history” playing y’all for fools. But in fairness, it’s difficult to undo centuries of blind hatred and stupidity where ever it may reside.

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