In America, why is terrorism a term reserved specifically for Muslims?
Why is America so afraid to call the recent Planned Parenthood shooting what it is? It is clear now that the shooting was politically motivated, so therefore it should be given its proper label: Domestic Terrorism. But, it seems, unless the shooter is Muslim, we avoid the term at all costs. This is not the first time, too.
It seems that whenever a white (non-Muslim) shooter is involved in any political shooting, the mainstream media refrains from calling such an act “Domestic Terrorism.” This recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood branch in Colorado, which left three dead, highlights this fact again. While it is understandable to assess all the facts before labeling any crime, it is clear by now the shooter was politically motivated.
While being arrested, the gunman was reported as saying “no more baby parts.” A reference to a series of videos by an anti-abortion advocacy group. The videos alleged that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling body parts from fetuses for profit. These allegations were debunked and the videos relied on deceptive editing, but the right-wing, including some 2016 presidential candidates, kept on selling the lie.
Despite that the incident is clearly a case of terrorism, America will not collectively call it such. Imagine for a moment, the shooter was Muslim and he walked into the clinic and committed the same act. How fast would the media heads label it terrorism, in such a scenario? Even if Planned Parenthood seems like an off target for an Islamist, the split second we identify the shooter as Muslim, isn’t it likely we will start calling it terrorism quickly?
Here we have a shooter with a clear political motivation, he hates Planned Parenthood, and possibly President Obama. His politics led him to kill three people, which by definition would constitute as terrorism. Despite the facts, America seems to hesitate in calling an act like this “terrorism.” There are other examples as well.
Anybody remember Dylan Roof? He walked into a black church and shot nine people dead. He did so because his politics was dominated by his hatred of Black Americans. By every account, what Roof did was an act of terrorism, but wasn’t called a terrorist. What about the Sikh Temple shooter in 2012? He killed Sikhs because he thought they were Muslim and inferior to him. Again, not called a terrorist.
For the most part, we seem to avoid the term terrorism when it comes to white shooters in this country. Granted not every shooting is an act of political terrorism. but when it seems clear that it is, why can’t we grow a pair and call these people terrorists?
It seems irrational to avoid such a conversation, but America avoids it swimmingly. What happened in Colorado is only another episode of a failed conversation. We must examine this bias, and come to terms with why we avoid labeling people like the Colorado shooter as a “terrorist.” If his name was Ahmed or Abdullah, we’d probably be having a much more vocal discussion about the evils of terrorism.