It’s time to Break It Down!
There is a growing scourge on American soil. Men, women, and children are being killed at schools, at hotels, at churches, mosques, and synagogues, at shopping malls, at theaters, at work, and at nightclubs. They are not being murdered, for what they did or didn’t do, or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner wrote in a piece appearing yesterday at CNN.com, they were, “Slaughtered again and again because, whether Jewish, or black, or simply not “pure” white, they are seen as a pestilence to be purged.”
The individuals who committed their murders are adherents of a vile and hateful ideology that meets the FBI definition of terrorism. However, a number of higher echelon law enforcement officials (LEO’s), past and present, say they aren’t treated as terrorists, because they arte American…and because they are white.
Alas, in the backdrop of a rising number of lethal white supremacist attacks, many of these same officials say that must change. They add; white supremacy has to be labeled terrorism, and in turn, addressed with the same vigor and relentless pursuit as ISIS and al Qaeda. Easier said than done, especially considering the policy changes that must be enacted to facilitate and achieve such a change.
Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance was one contemporary LEO driven to that conclusion by a preponderance of the evidence. He was investigating the Midtown Manhattan homicide of 66-year old Timothy Caughman. Mr. Caughman was walking alone when a man approached him from behind and plunged a sword into his chest. While dying, he uttered the last words, “Why are you doing this?” His killer’s response? He kept stabbing!
The answer would be become clear in short order. James Jackson had come from his home in Maryland with one thing in mind…To start a race war. While it was certainly an egregiously hateful act, Vance concluded this was more than a hate crime. He described it thusly, using these words from Jackson’s manifesto:
“It was the targeted killing of a black man with the aspiration of dividing the races to keep killing each other, ending in the death of every black person in the United States and around the world.” That’s deep; it’s also real.
Vance went on to say, “I think we needed to call it what it was. This was an act of terrorism. This exists in our country, and it happened here.”
Although DA Vance framed it gingerly, his point was nevertheless, crystal clear. Most Americans, in their own self-absorbed way, refuse to admit that terrorists can be English speaking, American-born, and white people. Terrorists, though, come in all tongues, nationalities, and hues. Moreover, if one endeavors to spread fear, and to wipeout a specific group of people, one is a terrorist. To wit, Vance and his team ascribed Jackson with the title he strived for, and that he duly earned, terrorist. He noted that calling someone a terrorist elevates that person’s profile, as well as that of the case; it can also lead to leveling additional charges and attaching higher sentences.
Caughman’s killing actually fits the category the FBI has deemed domestic terrorism:
“Perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily US-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”
This murder may not have gained wide national notoriety. But, its part of a very public and growing, deadly trend of domestic terror attacks committed largely by white men. From the Charleston church massacre through the killing of a protester in Charlottesville and the shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, far-right extremists are responsible for — or suspected of – most of the ideological killings in America in the last 10 years, according to data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks extremist activity.
White supremacist murders in the US “more than doubled in 2017,” with far-right extremist groups and white supremacists “responsible for 59% of all extremist-related fatalities in the US in 2017,” ADL’s audit shows. They were responsible for 20% of these fatalities the year before.
The degree to which white supremacist terrorism is a problem depends upon whom you ask. Some folks insist it’s not a problem. Donald Trump, for example, has said he does not regard white nationalism as a rising global threat. His response to the question of whether he worried about the rise in white nationalist movements around the world, was, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.”
Conversely, George Selim, former head of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force at DHS says, “If the same number of Americans had been killed at the hands of an individual that was inspired or directed by a foreign terrorist organization, you can bet this Congress and any administration, irrespective of political party would be reacting much differently,” Selim is set to take his argument to Congress today. He is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The title of the hearing is, “Confronting white supremacy: The consequences of inaction.
In a number of ways, the current spate of racist murders has common denominators with episodes of foreign terrorists. Its sort of a radicalization is radicalization vibe. It frequently occurs online, and is similar to the methods and sources utilized by ISIS and al Qaeda. There is one specific distinction; these homegrown extremists are white. Caughman’s murderer focused on his intense hatred of African American men before traveling to New York and killing him.
For weeks leading up to his attack, Jackson spent huge amounts of time during days and nights online studying Nazism and extremism. Interracial dating was an “insurmountable problem,” in his mind. He read obsessively about Dylann Roof, who murdered the Charleston Nine. Jackson wrote in his manifesto, “The racial world war starts today. Negroes are obviously first on the list for extermination.
The gunmen in Charleston, and the Pittsburgh and Poway suspects all engaged in hateful speech online before transforming their rage into lethal action. Mr. Selim emphasizes a behavioral response that he believes to be both critical and foreboding, the reluctance to name white men as possibly dangerous. That in and of itself poses a clear and present danger…”because white supremacists and nationalists are a real and persistent threat.” Selim went on to say:
“As I look forward in the next five to 10 or more years, we need to acclimate ourselves to the new normal, which is increased incidents of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism, anti-Semitism, and all acts of bigotry or Islamophobia, xenophobia that target ethnic and religious minority groups. Once we understand that that is very likely the new normal, then we can put in place some of the strong infrastructure related to counterterrorism and community resilience that we’ve already built up and focus it on these new threats that we know we’re going to be facing.”
In the final analysis, there is much work to be done in this area. No small part of the challenge is attached to America’s love of guns, and the sacrosanct nature of the 2ndAmendment. Guns are frequently and easily available. And, they are most often the method of choice of the principals we’ve been discussing. But, if you are thinking, that’s a whole ‘nother blog, you’re right. IJS, in order to deal with this matter, we must eventually deal with the gun issue. In the meantime, today’s focus is, “Home Grown (American) Terrorism: The Gift Of White Privilege!”
I’m done; holla back!
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