…Lo! God does not change the condition of a people until they first change that which is in their hearts… (13:11)
A Muslim American man carrying a duffel bag that holds six homemade explosives, a machete, and poison spray travels to a major U.S. airport. The man enters the airport, approaches the TSA security checkpoint, and then sprays two TSA officers with the poison. He then grabs his machete and chases another TSA officer with it.
This Muslim man is then shot and killed by the police. After the incident, a search of the attacker’s car by the police reveals it contained acetylene and oxygen tanks, two substances that, when mixed together, will yield a powerful explosive.
If this scenario occurred, there’s zero doubt that this would be called a terrorist attack. Zero. It would make headlines across the country and world, and we would see wall-to-wall cable news coverage for days. And, of course, certain right-wing media outlets, many conservative politicians, and Bill Maher would use this event as another excuse to stoke the flames of hate toward Muslims.
Well, last Friday night, this exact event took place at the New Orleans airport—that is, except for one factual difference: The attacker was not Muslim. Consequently, you might be reading about this brazen assault for the first time here, although this incident did receive a smattering of media coverage over the weekend.
The man who commited this attack was Richard White, a 63-year-old formerArmy serviceman who has long been retired and living on Social Security and disability checks. He was reportedly a devout Jehovah’s Witness.
Given the facts that a man armed with explosives and weapons traveled to an airport and only attacked federal officers, you would think that the word “terrorism” would at least come up as a possibility, right? But it’s not even mentioned.
Instead, law enforcement was quick to chalk this incident up to the attacker’s alleged “mental health issues.” That was pretty amazing police work considering this conclusion came within hours of the attack. There was no mention by police that they had even explored whether White had issues with the federal government stemming from his military service, if there was any evidence he held anti-government views, etc.
Perhaps Mr. White truly was mentally ill. Interviews with his neighbors, however, don’t even give us a hint that he had mental problems. Rather theydescribed White as a “meek” and “kind” man who a few had spoken to just days before the incident and everything seemed fine. You would think these neighbors would at least note that White had a history of mental illness if it was so apparent.
Now I’m not saying definitively that I believe Mr. White was a terrorist. My point is twofold. One is that if White had been a Muslim, the investigation into his motivation by the media and maybe even the police would have essentially been over once his faith had been ascertained. If a Muslim does anything wrong, it’s assumed to be terrorism. (Apparently we Muslims can’t be mentally ill.)
In contrast, when a non-Muslim engages in a violent attack, even on federal government employees, law enforcement and the media immediately look to the person’s mental history, not possible terrorist motivations.
No wonder so many parrot the line, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” When the press uses the word terrorism only in connection with the actions of Muslims, the average person would assume that’s the case. However, as I have written about before, in recent years overwhelmingly the terrorist attacks in United States and Europe have been committed by non-Muslims.
My second point is that this could have in fact been act of terrorism. White clearly targeted only the TSA officers. He didn’t assault others in the airport, such as the passengers waiting on line at the security checkpoint. And for those unfamiliar, there has been a great deal of animus directed at the TSA by some conservatives and libertarians. Simply Google the words “stop the TSA” and you will see pages of articles denouncing the TSA as an organization hell bent on depriving Americans of our liberty.
For example, Alex Jones’ Infowars website is filled with anti-TSA articles claiming that the TSA’s goal is not to prevent terrorism but to “harass” travelers and get into “our pants.” Glen Beck warned in the past that the TSA was potentially becoming President Obama’s“private army” with the goal being to take away our liberties.
And in 2012, Senator Rand Paul lashed out against the TSA for what he viewed as the agency’s improper treatment of him. In fact after the incident, Paul penned an op-ed denouncing the TSA, writing that “it is infuriating that this agency feels entitled to revoke our civil liberties while doing little to keep us safe.”
Even more alarmingly, the attacks on the TSA have not been limited to words. In October 2012, Paul Ciancia traveled to LAX, where he took out a rifle from his bag and shot two TSA officers, killing one. Ciancia had written anti-government tracts in the past and was—to little media fanfare—actually charged months later with an act of terrorism.
Given this climate, how can the police not even mention that they investigated the possibility of terrorism and ruled it out? I spoke with Colonel John Fortunato, the spokesperson for Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office, which is the agency in charge of the investigation. Fortunato explained that due to state law, they couldn’t release any additional information regarding White’s mental illness or reveal information regarding any treatment he may or may not have undergone.
When I asked Fortunato if they had investigated White’s digital footprint to ascertain whether he had visited any anti-government websites or had searched his residence to see if he possessed an anti-government literature or made or written anti-government statements, he gave me what sounded like a boiler plate response that the investigation has revealed no affiliation to any outside groups. Fortunato expressed his confidence that White had acted alone and that no ties to any terror groups. But he added that we will never truly know what motivated White given he died before being questioned.
But part of me actually believes that there are some in the media and law enforcement who prefer to use the term terrorism only when it applies to a Muslim.
Why? Because it’s easy to do. Muslims are viewed by many as the “other,” not as fellow Americans. But discussing domestic terrorism carried out by fellow Americans is at best, uncomfortable, and at worst, undermines the narrative that some in our country have a vested interest in advancing.
I’m not sure what will change this mindset, but if we want to truly keep Americans safe, law enforcement and the media need to understand that terrorism is not just a Muslim thing.
Sometimes, I think God has a macabre sense of humor. He allows us to firmly place ourselves in a self-righteous position and then deftly pulls the rug away from under us by presenting an entirely contrary situation.
Take the case of the mass-murderer in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, March 11, 2012, the soldier slaughtered 4 Afghan men, 3 women and 9 children, dragged their bodies into one place and set them on fire. Then he calmly walked back to his base and surrendered saying, “I did it”. For the next FIVE days, all we were allowed to know about his identity was that he is a Staff Sergeant from Joint Base Lewis McCord (JBLM) in Tacoma Washington. The military said they were keeping his identity quiet in order to protect his family. Continue reading
Updated March 13, 2012…
When the news of a US soldier going out to kill Afghans, first broke, American media were focusing on TWO deaths even as they also reported that the Afghanis were saying about 17 had been killed. Almost immediately other diffusers and excuses began to pour forth, giving “News Coverage” a new meaning.
The New York Times can STILL not bring itself to report the 16 murders without offering some softening words; in the headline, the US soldier is said to kill civilians even as NYT goes on to describe what the soldier (from our Puget Sound area) did:
New York Times: “U.S. Sergeant Is Said to Kill 16 Civilians in Afghanistan”
- “…the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. The man gathered 11 bodies, including those of 4 girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.”
As if to justify the murders or at least, to minimize the tragedy, Super-Patriot, Angry-Bird John McCain shamelessly shifted the focus to 9-11 instead of offering even a few grudging words of regret or sympathy.
“We should not forget that the attacks on the United States of America originated in Afghanistan,” Senator John McCain told CNN. Inferring of course, that a few deaths of the unwashed, here or there, should not be a cause for concern. Continue reading
- The Military, along with the Police, FBI and other American security agencies, is actively trained to think of Islam and Muslims as the greatest threat to America and the West and this training continues. They use self-styled “experts” on Islam and “terrorism” who only talk about how terrible and murderous Islam and Muslims are.
- “Our boys and girls in uniform” are trained the defend this country against an enemy that is portrayed as being inhuman; if we don’t stop (kill) them there, they will kill us all here!
- In their minds (as they have been taught), they killed a few disgusting rats, just as they do every day out there…men rats, women rats and children rats…RATS all.
- American political parties not only ignore us Muslims, they get better ratings if they bash Muslims and Islam.
- There is no action against the anti-Muslim hate-mongering climate in this country because we Muslims do not do anything to make ourselves politically significant so, why should anyone care about us?
Out-going Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen accused Pakistan of not only aiding terrorism against the US, but of fomenting it by supporting and directing the militant Haqqani network. By the way, the Haqqanis are located among the semi-autonomous, Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and are a US-manufactured group dating back to the days of our war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Not to be out-done, calls are coming from Congress to take military action against Pakistanand to send US troops within Pakistan to resolve the “Haqqani problem”; it is, after all, time for elections.
While such strong statements may pander well to the American public, they do nothing to help ease the increasingly worsening situation in the “Af-Pak” region in fact, such speeches only underscore the dismal state of understanding of the problems in that region. America defines problems exclusively as they relate to itself and attempts to define the origins and broader impacts of the underlying issues, are regarded as treason. Continue reading
“U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid”
“WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.”
This headline may strike well at home in the US, but it reflects the arrogant, self-centered, group-think that has become the hallmark of the US. To be sure, there are many lobbies that will applaud this decision, lobbies such as, Right-wing Republicans, the Tea Party, right-wing Jewish and Christian groups and of course, there is always India. To these groups, any bashing of the “nucular, trrrrst” Pakistan is a welcome development.
Of course, Pakistan does deserve a swift kick in the behind and often, but this is not the time to do so. A sudden cutting off of aid reinforces the unreliability of the US as a friend and partner; the US has been complaining for long that the US-Pakistan relationship is a transactional one and by treating it so transactionally right now, the US is telling Pakistan…the civilians and the military… that the US cannot be trusted when Pakistan needs a friend Continue reading