Only In Republican America Is This Man NOT A Thug And A Terrorist
Dylann Storm Roof‘s got prior arrests, a gun, a reputation for doing drugs, patches on his jacket that could be gang symbols, and one of those weird white names that’s spelled wrong. Plus he just murdered nine black people in a church, then got caught running away…Wait, make that driving away.
Police finally caught up with Roof and arrested him. For some strange reason, they didn’t shoot the Charleston shooter dead or take him on a “nickel ride.” Nor are the mainstream news outlets calling him a “thug” or a “terrorist.” Oh no. Like all those other white men and teenagers who commit mass murder with guns and bombs, we call Roof “mentally ill” and the media portrays him as some kind of disturbed loner.
But folks on Twitter have other ideas. For starters, God feels highly skeptical about Roof’s supposed “mental illness.”
Dylann Roof has the same “mental illness” that millions and millions of white Americans have had for 400 years.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) June 18, 2015
Meanwhile, #BlackLivesMatters activist Deray McKesson chalks it up to how whiteness works, and predicts how the news coverage will unfold.
And sure enough, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin found a news item that proves McKesson’s point, plus an awesome cartoon.
— Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (@ASE) June 18, 2015
Once we establish the Dylan Roof du jour as some kind of mentally ill, lone wolf with messed up parents, we can start loudly lamenting all the shootings and bombings as though these horrible tragedies are random and unavoidable like hurricanes and earthquakes.
But guess what?
These massacres are not random at all. They happen on purpose because our nation was founded on a murderous gun culture that robbed people of their land, their freedom and their way of life at gunpoint. And then, our Founding Fathers added the Second Amendment to our Constitution so the ruling classes could form armed militias to put down slave rebellions and fend off any stray “Indians” they hadn’t already shot, chased off or infected with small pox.
As Nathaniel Downes from Addicting Info explains in his post about liberal radio host Thom Hartmann’s startling research, the Second Amendment isn’t about freedom, as the NRA and Republicans would have us believe: it’s about protecting slavery and the interests of America’s ruling class.
What is ignored in the NRA’s arguments is that, at the time the U.S. Constitution was written, the militia in the south was known by another name: the slave patrol, and virtually all men of age served in its ranks at one point or another. As far back as 1680 in Virginia, the militias were organized to prevent:
“…the frequent meetings of considerable numbers of negroe slaves, under pretence of feasts and burialls is judged [to be] of dangerous consequence.” (sic)
Nowadays, the slaves have been replaced by underpaid labor working for poverty wages and a struggling middle class that hasn’t gotten a raise in decades. But our nation’s modern-day well-armed but not-at-all regulated quasi-militias serve pretty much the same purpose as their ancestors did: To protect the interests of our ruling classes through fear and terror. That way, women, people of color, poor people, non-Christians, LGBT people, and others will STFU about higher wages, civil rights and all that rot.
Sure, we’ve got lots of responsible gun owners and folks with good intentions who genuinely want to protect their families and neighbors. Unlike many lefties, I believe that it is possible to have a thriving gun culture that’s both gun-positive and safe: Switzerland combines high rates of gun ownership with low rates of gun violence.
Alas, our gun culture is inextricably entwined with racism, sexism and all manner of hatred in service of our nation’s elites. Although most gun owners have never shot anyone and pray they’ll never have to, our anything goes gun culture still encourages, enables and gives cover to (alleged) right-wing terrorists like Dylann Storm Roof. All these unlicensed, unregistered guns floating around also create intense threat-levels for our police officers, and may have a lot to do with our alarmingly high levels of police brutality.
Right-wing terrorists like Dylan Storm Roof are not “lone wolves.”
Every now and then — as with the Columbine, Aurora and Newtown massacres — the mass murders genuinely are perpetrated by disturbed loner types. Alas, the majority of attacks in this country are coming from white, right-wing terrorists, not black people or Muslims. In the wake of Dylan Storm Roof’s terrorist attacks on a historic black church, the New York Times reports:
The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.
The article then explains findings from a survey with the Police Executive Research Forum in 2014:
In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.
Furthermore, Michael German — a well-known national security expert who specializes in domestic terrorism — debunked the “lone wolf” narrative way back in 2005. People like Roof don’t just come out of nowhere. They’re raised with these dangerously hateful and racist beliefs, then they grow up and find like-minded people who show them the ropes.
As German once wrote about Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing in the Washington Post:
The FBI has long maintained that Timothy McVeigh, who was executed in 2001 for the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives, was the prototypical “lone wolf” terrorist and that anyone implicated in the bombing conspiracy is behind bars.
But German reports McVeigh was later found to have troubling ties with right-wing terrorist groups through whom he may have gotten help, information and encouragement leading to the OKC bombing:
But old loose ends and troubling new revelations about McVeigh’s association with white supremacist groups have led many people to wonder whether a wider conspiracy was behind the bombing that took place just over 10 years ago.
German goes on to explain people in these right-wing terrorist groups are highly cautious and don’t let just anyone in. Yet McVeigh managed to forge ties with many of them:
Tim McVeigh seemed able to find a militia meeting wherever he went. He was linked to militia groups in Arizona and Michigan, white supremacist groups in Oklahoma and Missouri, and at gun shows he sold copies of “The Turner Diaries,” a racist novel written by the founder of a neo-Nazi organization. No one finds such groups by accident.
It’s hard to imagine Roof coming up with the idea for murdering nine black people in a church, planning the whole thing out, and carrying it out without some sort of help and encouragement. The Internet abounds with groups and resources.
Others who’ve been portrayed as disturbed loners — like Eric Rudolph and Buford Furrow — also had ties to extreme right-wing terrorist and white supremacist groups. The leaders of these groups promote violence, and people involved with these groups share information and technology. But members are encouraged to do their dirty work on their own, so law enforcement doesn’t trace their activities back to the groups.
The fact that these individuals, after being exposed to extremist ideology, each committed violent acts might lead a reasonable person to suspect the existence of a wider conspiracy. Imagine a very smart leader of an extremist movement, one who understands the First Amendment and criminal conspiracy laws, telling his followers not to depend on specific instructions.
German also explains, right-wing terrorist leaders would have been smart enough to advise McVeigh to cut ties with any groups he was involved in before the OKC bombing, in order to protect them:
He might tell them to divorce themselves from the group before they commit a violent act; to act individually or in small groups so that others in the movement could avoid criminal liability. This methodology creates a win-win situation for the extremist leader — the violent goals of the group are met without the legal consequences.
FAIR points out that within hours of the OKC bombing, the major media outlets — including ABC, CBS, The Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times — pointed to Islamic groups as the main suspects. Even those who remained more cautious — like theChristian Science Monitor — assumed the OKC bombing was an attack by foreigners.
But once McVeigh was revealed as the culprit, no retractions were forthcoming. Nor did anyone from the mainstream media apologize, correct or provide follow-ups.