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Hullabaloo


Monday, November 30, 2015

 
The real threat

by digby

Ian Millhiser:

Friday afternoon, one week after elected officials all over the country tried to block Syrian refugees from entering their states in an apparent effort to fight terrorism, a white man in Colorado committed what appears to be an act of terrorism in a Planned Parenthood clinic. 
Though the details of Robert Lewis Dear’s motives for killing three people in the clinic and injuring nine others are still being revealed, Dear reportedly told law enforcement “no more baby parts,” an apparent reference to heavily edited videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, which numerous politicians have cited to falsely claim that Planned Parenthood sells “aborted baby parts.” Dear’s actions, in other words, appear to be an act of politically motivated terrorism directed against an institution widely reviled by conservatives. 
Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations. As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June in the New York Times, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” 

Kurzman and Schanzer’s methodology, moreover, may underestimate the degree to which domestic terrorists in the United States are motivated by right-wing views. As they describe the term in their New York Times piece, the term “right-wing extremist” primarily encompasses anti-government extremists such as members of the sovereign citizen movement, although it also includes racist right-wing groups such as neo-Nazis. Thus, it is not yet clear whether Dear, who made anti-abortion remarks but also reportedly referenced President Obama, was motivated in part by the kind of anti-government views that are the focus of Kurzman and Schanzer’s inquiry.

Eric Boehlert took a look at how the press is covering this:

The deadly gun rampage that erupted inside a Planned Parenthood health care facility in Colorado Springs last week capped a disturbing week of political violence and intimidation from the far right:

*November 22: Armed vigilantes who gathered outside a Dallas area mosque announced they were going to publish the home addresses of local Muslim worshipers and label them "Muslim sympathizers."

*November 23: A man was arrested for leaving a phony explosive device at a Falls Church, Virginia mosque. The suspect allegedly also threw two smoke bombs and a Molotov cocktail toward the building.

*November 23: A Black Lives Matter protester was kicked, punched, and choked at a Donald Trump rally.

*November 24: Four men have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. Three of the suspects reportedly were fascinated "with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups."

If we scan back a few more weeks we see an equally troubling trend:

*November 11: "Two men described by authorities as white supremacists have been charged in Virginia with trying to illegally buy weapons and explosives to use in attacks on synagogues and black churches."

*October 12: Georgia state prosecutors indicted 15 members of a Confederate flag-waving convoy on terroristic threats after they menaced a black family celebrating a birthday party.

Meanwhile, recent months have seen a plague of terror attacks targeting Planned Parenthood facilities, to the point where the FBI in September warned that "it is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities." (The current campaign of terror and harassment is not a new one.)

As CBS reported [emphasis added]:

At that time, there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia. In one incident, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard's car and set the vehicle on fire.

According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado, in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility there, causing a fire.

So, in just the last three months we've seen a car set on fire, Molotov cocktails allegedly thrown at a house of worship, terroristic threats leveled against a family, liberal protesters gunned down by radicals, and a medical facility stormed by an anti-abortion/anti-government gunman who killed civilians and a policeman.

What portrait do those events paint in your mind? And is that portrait of radical homegrown violence and terrorism the one you've seen conveyed in the press following the Colorado Springs terror attack?

It's not the one I've been seeing.

Media Matters for years has documented how Fox News in particular has used a blinding double standard in terms of casting wide, cultural and religious aspersions when covering terror attacks involving Muslim attackers, versus how it deals with homegrown political violence from the right. (It was Fox News' Brian Kilmeade who once confidently declared, "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.")

But the problem extends beyond Fox News. The larger conservative media echo chamber seems to have convinced the mainstream press that domestic terrorism, often carried out by white American men, somehow doesn't pose the same threat and doesn't need to be treated as a lurking menace the way ISIS terrorism does. (That heightened sense of panic also fanned the right-wing media hysteria about Syrian refugees.)

In other words, the endless dots of domestic terrorism in the U.S. simply are not connected to portray a larger danger to our safety. (For more recent examples of deadly plots and attacks see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

The simple truth is that from neo-Nazis killers, to a rash of women's health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government extremists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to unfold regularly in the United States.

There's more at the link including some of Boehlert's typically sharp analysis (as well as links to all the press counts he mentions.)

Nothing to see here people. Move along.


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