A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Do media, government excuse homegrown terrorists?

Bill Knight column for Thurs., Fri., or Sat., Jan. 1, 2 or 3

A couple of St. Louis men in November were arraigned on federal charges for plotting to bomb the Gateway Arch with a pipe bomb and to kill the County prosecutor and Ferguson, Mo., police chief, apparently in retaliation for one of the grand juries not indicting white policemen for killing unarmed African Americans.

The arrest of Brandon Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis got a little attention, as it should, although suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

But getting far less attention are the dozens of other Americans arrested, many already convicted, of equally serious charges or worse, from killing lawful abortion providers to planning to attack undocumented immigrant children crossing the border into the American Southwest.

Just as there’s no excuse for violence against those with whom you disagree, there’s no excuse for news media ignoring homegrown terrorists or essentially dismissing them as disgruntled “patriots.”

Eric Boehler of Media Matters said, “Fox News has routinely paid very little attention to breaking news stories that feature right-wing, or anti-government, gunmen who target law enforcement officials as a way to deliver their warped political messages.”

Take Larry Steve McQuilliams, who the day after Thanksgiving shot about 100 rounds of ammunition in downtown Austin, Texas. However, such an attack by an American is hardly isolated. From Timothy McVeigh to Cliven Bundy, a series of right-wing attacks has repeatedly occurred with comparably scant attention by major newspapers, much less cable TV or talk radio.

A gunman shot and killed three people at a Jewish Community Center and a retirement home in Overland Park, Kan., in April; a deputy sheriff was shot at the Forsyth County Courthouse in Cuming, Ga., in June; and Amanda and Jerad Miller shot two policemen and a bystander in Las Vegas, Nev., also in June.

They are terrorists, although they don’t neatly fit media stereotypes.

Still, polls show that the percentage of Americans who think a foreign terrorist attack is “likely” has gone up 10 percent since last spring, when the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) started getting coverage by broadcasters and attention on Capitol Hill, and the percentage of us who feel “less safe” than before 9-11 is up 19 percent, according to Micah Zenko in Foreign Policy magazine.

TV viewers have become “far more likely to support hawkish foreign policies,” Zenko shows. Since video of ISIS beheadings were released, “support increased for U.S. airstrikes from 52 percent to 78 percent, for deploying U.S. ground troops from 19 percent to 44 percent, and for providing arms to Syrian rebels from 25 percent to 62 percent.”

If the specter of ISIS atrocities or jihadist attacks on U.S. soil has provoked an outcry, where is the outrage from media, politicians or even the public about Americans murdering Americans?

Indeed, since the 9-11 attacks, on Sept. 11, 2001, jihadists have killed 20, including three in the Boston Marathon bombing, according to researcher Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation. Over the same time period, right-wing extremists have killed more than 30 Americans.

Since 9-11, more than 62 “major terrorist plots and racist rampages have emerged from the American radical Right,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which maintains a thorough data base on such crimes.

Those attacks by Americans on Americans include Ku Klux Klan members, American Nazis, white supremacists, self-styled militia, and anti-Semitic and other violent extremists. They were nabbed using pipe bombs, hand grenades, firebombs, C-4 explosives, nerve gas, radioactive materials and even an antiaircraft gun. They planned to kill or kidnap police, elected officials, banks, National Guard troops, minorities, Jews, judges, people of other religions, and government facilities.

“We have become fairly inoculated to such horrors,” Zemko writes, “even those identical to what terrorists groups aspire to accomplish, when the perpetrators are Americans. Bizarrely, we are less afraid of the devastation of terroristic acts than we are of the motivations of the people behind such acts.”

[PICTURED: Graphic from 'Hatewatch 2014,' from]

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