We have a terrorism problem in America, and it isn’t Syrian refugees. The FBI defines “domestic terrorism” as actions that:
- Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
- Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and
- Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
Right wing domestic terrorist acts, such as the recent shootings at the Colorado Springs, Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, as well as four arsons in 74 days at other Planned Parenthood clinics, meet the definition. The same can be said about previous politically-motivated killings and attacks, such as the shooting of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, bombings, arson and attacks on abortion clinics, the attacks on black churches and their members, the shootings at the Sikkh temple in Wisconsin, attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and attacks on LBGT Americans.
This right wing domestic terrorism did not suddenly appear. In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning that right-wing extremism was on the rise in America. Conservatives attacked and tried to quash the report, and President Barack Obama stood by as the report was buried. Perhaps Obama, still a new president, did not want to offend Republicans with whom he wanted to work on big issues facing America, especially helping to fix George W. Bush‘s financial and foreign policy disasters. It turned out that such hope by President Obama was naive, as Republicans had already decided on the night of Obama’s January 2009 inauguration that, for purely political reasons, they would not work with President Obama on anything.
Terrorism likewise requires a political motivation. For most terrorist foot-soldiers, that motivation is learned and/or honed somewhere. In America, that somewhere is the right-wing media and conservative politicians, often working hand in hand. It’s Bill O’Reilly of Fox News waging war on Dr. George Tiller until someone took up the cause and shot Tiller to death. It’s Rush Limbaugh bashing gay Americans and Muslims together. It’s Alex Jones‘ right wing, anti-Obama conspiracy theories. It’s Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina telling lies about Planned Parenthood based on doctored or even non-existent videos. It’s Republican Congressmen having phony, politically-motivated hearings targeting Planned Parenthood. It’s Sarah Palin using violent language and symbolism to “target” a map of America with gun scope crosshairs on certain Democratic representatives’ Congressional districts, including that of Gabby Giffords, and saying that conservatives need to “retreat and reload.” And it’s the National Rifle Association (NRA), a gun industry trade group masquerading as a Constitutional rights group, which opposes sensible and extremely popular gun safety measures, such as universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole, that could make it tougher for terrorists to obtain their weapons.
These conservatives provide the political motivation to right wing domestic terrorists like “radical clerics” in Muslim countries indoctrinate Muslim terrorists. However, in the case of Muslim terrorists such as al Qaeda and now ISIS, a Republican president and party was willing to establish a huge government agency and try to address the danger. In the case of right wing domestic terrorism which has killed more Americans here than the “radical Islamic” terrorists before and since 2001, the Republicans, with few exceptions, are strangely silent.
Photo by joshlopezphoto, used under Creative Commons license. http://is.gd/rgzpIa