In the wake of the Charlottesville demonstration, a lot of people are saying a lot of things. There are a large portion of people, primarily Trump supporters, who argue that this was simply a rally of people demonstrating their first amendment right, while others (myself included) are calling it for what it really is: a neo-Nazi riot of white supremacists whose primary goal is to "Make America Great Again" by making America white again.
Politicians across the board were condemning this event - yes, even Republicans who are stereotypically racist anyway - while Trump had a less than hard-hitting response. He claimed that is was important to see both sides of the issue. Personally, I think generally the wrong side is the side with Nazi armbands and flags, but hey, that's just my opinion.
But for the first time in a long time, this article isn't about Trump. It isn't about how Trump's base is made up of people like this or how his soft initial response is telling that he knows he cannot alienate them if he wants re-election.
This is about terrorism - namely, that the Charlottesville demonstrations and the attack that killed Heather Heyer, were acts of domestic terrorism.
There's a bigger picture here, and it's that domestic terrorism in the United States isn't committed by jihadist Islamic people who come from far off lands like the media portrays. The primary culprit of domestic terrorism is white people. Specifically, white men.
Are you shocked? Has your jaw hit the floor? Are you already leaving this article and writing an angry Facebook comment? Before you go, hear me out:
Let's start with the basics here. The Patriot Act redefined what constitutes domestic terrorism in this country. This definition is as follows:
A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act "dangerous to human life" that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) 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.
So what does that mean? Basically, if you're killing people, and you have some kind of agenda other than being a serial killer, that's an act of domestic terrorism.
Here's where research comes into play. Between 2008 and 2016, almost twice as many terrorist incidents were committed by right-wing extremists as by Islamic jihadists. The Nation Insitute's Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting tracked 201 terrorist incidents on US soil between 2008 and 2016 and found that there were 115 cases by right-wing extremists, compared to 63 cases of Islamic extremists. And, at the risk of incriminating liberals, there were 19 cases from left-wing extremists, which primarily includes eco-terrorists and animal rights militants.
And the kicker: The database makes a point of distinguishing between different groups within right-wing extremism, but the lead reporter for the group said: "Those are all gradations of white supremacy, variations of the same thing."
Attacks by right white extremists are more deadly - nearly a third of right-wing extremists incidents resulting in death, while 13% of Islamic extremist cases ended in death. However, the sheer number of people killed by Islamic extremists (90 people total) is higher than that of right wing extremists (79 people total), but not by much.
Are you shocked? Are you angry? Well, you should be - it's about to get worse.
The media plays a large part in why this is such an issue. They are often slow to label attacks by white perpetrators as acts of terrorism. Part of that is because the FBI is hesitant to use the word terrorism unless it can be connected to a foreign terrorist organization, like ISIS or Al-Qaeda. And boom, there it is. The DEFINITION of terrorism by the FBI is inherently racially motivated. If the government won't call it terrorism, why should the media?
When Dylann Roof shot up the black church in Charleston, South Carolina, it met every single criterion of domestic terrorism. Did you ever hear him called a terrorist? No, you didn't. Furthermore, he was escorted out of the church in a bulletproof vest and gently put into a police car. When have you ever heard of a terrorist getting that kind of treatment? That's right. You haven't.
Definitions are important. By perpetuating the stereotype that only those from far-off lands can be terrorists, you create and raise a generation of children who are more worried about the brown kids in their classes than the white supremacist militia that is headquartered in their town. You teach kids that there is no way anyone who looks like them can be capable of such awfulness, such hatred when the reality is they not only teach that hatred but enforce it with guns, bombs, and even cars.
Call the Charlottesville horror and death of Heather Heyer what it is: domestic terrorism. But more importantly, call the white guy from Ohio who committed that atrocity what he really is: a terrorist.