American based terrorism doesn’t get much mention in mainstream media, maybe because those who are responsible for it in many cases reflect the ethnicity of those who write about terrorism. I mean it’s much easier to call someone who looks different from you and has a funny name a terrorist than it is to call your next door neighbor or the person who attends your church or synagogue one. Janet Napolitano knows a thing or two about what happens to people who take an even handed approach to this issue of homegrown terrorism because she was excoriated in the media by pundits for a 2009 report released by Homeland Security entitled, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. Because there’s no mention of Islam in the title, the report was denounced by many across the political spectrum. Media Matters does a pretty nice job of detailing the arguments of some of the people opposed to labelling American terrorism just that, and their analysis can be found here. Needless to say, the 2009 report doesn’t follow the meme so often repeated in public discourse that ‘all terrorists are Muslim’ because such a statement is false on its face, racially charged and bigoted.
Do you know who the people pictured above are? They are members of Hutaree who see law enforcement as the enemy and they planned to kill a police officer, possibly at a traffic stop, and then attack the funeral procession to kill more officers. Sounds much like terrorism to me, but instead these folks were charged with seditious conspiracy against the government, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. Ever hear of the group The Sovereign Citizen? You can see for yourself the width and breadth of this group across the country here. The FBI has a full page on them which says in essence they do not feel bound to obey the laws of America, do everything to circumvent the law up to and including murder of public officials and the destruction of government institutions. The ubiquitous federal government isn’t the only entity to see the danger Sovereign Citizen members present to the general public. A local Texas sheriff, Chief Smith has issued his own terrorism warning saying in part
Chief Smith wants the Citizens to be aware that these people could be practicing their beliefgs in this area. Chief Smith warns that these persons have the potential to act out in very violent manners with both citizens and law enforcement if the contact with them is negative.
The Chief has every reason to be concerned. Just last week a ‘sovereign citizen’ in Florida, claiming he “did not have to follow the law or obey law enforcement officers” fired an AK-47 weapon at a store after calling them repeatedly to demand a product they did not have. Larry Kelly then led law enforcement officials on a chase through the city of Ensley, Florida before being captured. Again, last week another ‘sovereign citizen’ Matthew O’Neill was arrested after sending a white powder substance to the Colorado Department of Revenue which was dealing with his tax issues. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the significance of that in post 911 America does it? Then it was an act of terrorism, now it’s a disgruntled tax case. But ‘sovereign citizen’ encounters with the law have also been deadly. What’s significant is if one were to replace each of the above linked news stories with someone’s Arabic name or reference to their religious belief it would be a sure indicator of their terrorist inclinations, BUT absent such identifying tags, while still abhorrent and deadly, the acts are crimes which we have all too often been accustomed, absent the accompanying terrorism hysteria. Conservatives have for some time bemoaned the increase in laws on the books to handle what they consider situations already adequately addressed in law, yet many on the right are the first to claim the need for increased laws to save America from ‘sharia law’, for instance to the presence of municipally approved places of worship to articles of clothing to any number of other things associated with Islam and Muslims in America. This is the dilemma America faces today; how to deal with the hypocrisy and demagoguery of politicians and political parties, such as the Republican and Tea Party, while still legitimately addressing the role of the rule of law. What’s good for the goose IS good for the gander as well. It’s either all terrorism or it’s not, but most likely chances are it will not be classified terrorism, especially by the main stream media, as long as people who write about it look like the people above who perpetuate it.