Terrorism Has No Singular Identity

Terrorism Has No Singular Identity

Being white should not safeguard Jerry Varnell from being labeled a terrorist.
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Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrates a truth that most know to be real: racism is alive and well in America. Terrorism has no singular face nor identity, whether the government labels it terrorism or not.

Just days after the rally in Charlottesville, 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested for attempting to “detonate what he thought was an explosives-laden van next to an Oklahoma City bank.” This, surprisingly, was treated as a domestic terrorism investigation. White men are generally not subject to these charges.

Varnell had been monitored by the FBI since December, as he had communicated with a confidential informant about planning an attack on the Federal Reserve Building, not unlike the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City. He was contacted by an undercover agent after the tip-off, who worked under the pretense of providing him with the supplies to conduct his intended attack.

Varnell aligns himself with the “Three-Percenter” ideology: a largely anti-government group that seeks to uphold their constitutional rights. Some believe that only three percent of the colonists participated in the American Revolution and that they are descendants of that percentage. Reportedly, Varnell’s intent was not to "kill a bunch of people," but to "take down a government facility or other structures."

Since Varnell’s arrest, the Three Percenters have condemned his intentions and actions. A spokesperson for the group Dylan Hunter has said, “We don’t want anything to do with him. We condemn any acts of terrorism. We condemn Timothy McVeigh, we condemn what happened in Charlottesville. What we want to do is support the Constitution of the United States of America.”

However, according to the Daily Mail, Mrs. Varnell, his mother, "said her 'sweet-hearted' son had suffered 'countless' full-blown schizophrenic delusional episodes and had been in and out of mental health hospitals since he was 16--and was not a bomber." His family blames the FBI for leading their impressionable son on, and aiding and abetting him in committing a crime. Confirmation has yet to be made of their claims to his mental health, but the fact still stands that Varnell planned to attack prior to FBI interference.

It isn’t the first time that a white man has attempted or committed a violent crime and been written off as “sweet-hearted,” or immediately labeled mentally ill. Dylann Roof and Jared Loughner met similar circumstances; countless reports of troubled pasts and quiet demeanors surround these men in attempts to dull the impact of their actions and to hush reactions to them.

They have undeniable privilege in their cases: “While a terrorist may be white, his violence is never based in his whiteness... He can be a disturbed loner or a monster... Either he is humanized to the point of sympathy or he is so monstrous that he almost becomes mythological.”

Whether claims of Varnell’s schizophrenia are valid or not, we cannot continue to let white men go excused for what is, by definition, terrorism, whether motivated by racism or not. Headlines should not refer to him as "Oklahoma man" or "Man, 23." It is a step forward, and a remarkable one at that, to see this treated as a domestic terrorism investigation. Do not let it lose that status.
Cover Image Credit: Dan Snyder / Twitter

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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How The Democratic Party basically Handed Donald Trump The Presidency

The rise of Donald Trump was propelled in part by the far left's efforts to undermine him.

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Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential Election was a shock to many across the country, myself included. It seemed impossible that someone so unapologetically crass, rude, and idiotic could even hope to achieve the position of the most powerful person in the world (have I mentioned that he literally admitted to sexually assaulting women?). I mean sure, it certainly didn't help that Hillary Clinton was probably the worst candidate that the Democratic Party could have run against him... actually she was definitely the worst, but she still should have won. As she tries to explain in her new book, what happened?

In order for a bigoted, fear-mongering, and an arguably uneducated man like Donald Trump to become president, there needs to be a perfect storm. We've already established that Hillary was a bad candidate on the Democratic side, but none of the other Republican candidates were very good either. Their best guy other than Trump was Ted Cruz, a man who can be described as unsettling on his best days. There was also a large number of people that resonated with Trump. Granted, they were mostly uneducated, blue-collar, religious, second amendment nuts, but Trump's "forgotten man" schtick stuck with them, as these were people who felt like they were being left behind. I would argue that they were and should have been, but that's beside the point.

However, the one thing that I think influenced Donald Trump's meteoric rise to the presidency the most were the ridiculous ways that some of his opponents would try to undermine his legitimacy as a candidate. As someone who identifies as a Democrat myself (not as my gender, but as my political affiliation), I certainly was not a fan of Donald Trump. I think that his election has brought us one step closer to the dystopian future laid out in the cinematic masterpiece that is Idiocracy, but it's not like my party didn't have opportunities to bring him down a peg. It's also not like we didn't completely fail in doing so.

Every time Donald Trump would say something that could be construed as racist, xenophobic, or sexist, Democrats would pounce on it and use it as proof that he was all of these things. This is a good method, but many Democrats got too overzealous in using it, calling him these things even when what he said was probably not racist, or even not racist at all. The baseless attacks vastly outnumbered the legitimate ones, and Trump supporters used it as a way to rally around their guy and to validate the ideas of "fake news" and their "us against the world" mentality.

The day the Donald Trump won the election, in my opinion at least, was the day that Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables." Are you kidding me?! You're going to take tens of millions of American voters, essentially call them racist, sexist idiots, and flat-out dismiss them? All she did was verify to the Trump supporter all the things that he already believed: that he was being disrespected, left behind, and forgotten about by the democratic party. Regardless, how do you think people are going to vote if you just insult their intelligence and character for months on end? That's not the way to build bridges; it only creates the divisiveness that Trump thrives in.

This is why people think of Democrats as elitist: because Democrats act really elitist. If you always act like you know better than everyone else and sit in your ivory tower expecting everyone to realize how stupid they are, you're not going to win elections. In fact, you'll do so bad in elections that you'll lose to an unqualified, idiotic, racist Cheeto that wears a toupee that looks like it was made from hairs scooped out of the bathroom sink. Anyway, that's why Trump won the election: because Hillary and the Democrats had their heads so far up their asses that they couldn't smell his spray tan coming.

Cover Image Credit:

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