Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is The Skin Color Of Our Terrorists Important?

(UPDATE 4/19: Read below)

Because if anything it gives us the right to tell the racist morons - most often the shrieking fear-mongers on the Far Right - jumping to conclusions about the Boston attack and the Ricin Mail attack that they are SO VERY GODDAMN WRONG.

Lessee... in the last 20 years or so, our terror attacks/mass murders have been for the most part - I'd say 92 percent of the time - committed by Angry White Guys lashing out at any the best convenient targets - innocent people who had nothing to do with those Angry White Guys being angry.

I'm with Sirota on this:

...This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.
Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats — the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts.
“White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation,” writes author Tim Wise. “White privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Dublin. And if he’s an Italian-American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.”
Because of these undeniable and pervasive double standards, the specific identity of the Boston Marathon bomber (or bombers) is not some minor detail — it will almost certainly dictate what kind of governmental, political and societal response we see in the coming weeks. That means regardless of your particular party affiliation, if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues.
To know that’s true is to simply consider how America reacts to different kinds of terrorism.
Though FBI data show fewer terrorist plots involving Muslims than terrorist plots involving non-Muslims, America has mobilized a full-on war effort exclusively against the prospect of Islamic terrorism. Indeed, the moniker “War on Terrorism” has come to specifically mean “War on Islamic Terrorism,” involving everything from new laws like the Patriot Act, to a new torture regime, to new federal agencies like the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security, to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to mass surveillance of Muslim communities.
By contrast, even though America has seen a consistent barrage of attacks from domestic non-Islamic terrorists, the privilege and double standards baked into our national security ideologies means those attacks have resulted in no systemic action of the scope marshaled against foreign terrorists. In fact, it has been quite the opposite — according to Darryl Johnson, the senior domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, the conservative movement backlash to merely reporting the rising threat of such domestic terrorism resulted in DHS seriously curtailing its initiatives against that particular threat... 
We have a terrorist organization in the United States.  It's called Angry White Guys.  It is not a rock band.  It's a loose coalition of Anglo-European descended males feeling privileged and authorized to hate and hurt anybody they want.  And they attack sometimes solo, sometimes in teams, using such methods as shooting up malls and schools and movie theaters, or driving armored bulldozers through a town, or piloting planes into the nearest IRS building, or killing corrections supervisors and court prosecutors, or blowing up federal office buildings in Oklahoma City.  And worse of all they tend to blend in, except for when their neighbors and co-workers get interviewed after the rampaging and they all say "Well, there was always something off about that guy..."

And don't worry: I don't fit the profile for Angry White Guy.  Oh, sure, I'm of Anglo-Irish-Germanic descent... and male... and over 40... and sexually frustrated... and occasionally railing against the oligarchy that's killing our jobs market... and... and...  why are you on the phone to the FBI?!  Wait!  Relax!  I'm trying to tell you I'm UNITARIAN!  I don't fit the full profile!  I'm clean, I SWEAR...

Here's the Update: Law enforcement released the photos of the two guys - White Ballcap and Black Ballcap - and within the next 12 hours located them on the MIT campus, they tried robbing a 7-11 gas station, got involved in a shootout with grenades getting thrown about, the Black Ballcap guy got shot and died from the wounds, and right now (6:52 am EDT) White Ballcap is on the loose in one of the outlying towns of Boston (apparently not a "suburb", they hate being called "suburbs" to Boston).  The two suspects were/are apparently brothers and foreigners on student visas - although not sure yet if they were MIT students.  Current report has them as Chechnyans where there's an ongoing insurgency after Russia re-took control after a second civil war there in 2009.  As there's a Islamic influence in the Chechen fighting, we're gonna get hit with the Evil Mooslums crap some more...  I still stand by my Angry White Guy rant, though.  And considering, like I said, that the wingnuts are gonna go crazy about these bombers possibly being Sunni Chechens still proves Sirota's point: when it's foreign ethnics, the entire ethnicity (or their religion) gets blamed, but when it's an Angry White Guy ohhhh it's just an individual the whole group doesn't deserve blame.

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