Right-wing terrorism is labeled as the single greatest terror threat to America. Why won’t we fight it?
ALEXANDRIA-On January 6, 2021, the US Capitol was attacked for the first time since 1812. Not by a foreign country, but by its own citizens—including off duty law enforcement officers.
To anyone surprised by this, you haven’t been paying attention. The FBI reports that right-wing terrorism has increased every year under the current administration. In 2020, ring-wing terrorism is at the highest its been since the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Not two weeks before the January 6 insurrection, a Christmas Day bomb rocked the city of Nashville. And were it not for six police officers who acted quickly to wake up and evacuate an entire city block, the death count could have piled up quickly.
The President said nothing of substance to condemn this suicide bombing. His silence isn’t surprising. One recent study found that attacks committed by Muslims receive on average 449% more media coverage. Another study found that racial justice protests “received legitimizing coverage less than 25% of the time.”
‘Just a Difference’
Meanwhile, even members of Congress like Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin brazenly claim there’s “just a difference” between terrorism by Muslims versus terrorism by white supremacists. They call the January 2017 Quebec City white supremacist terrorist attack on a mosque, that left six Muslims dead, a “one off.”
Meanwhile, the FBI and DHS affirm that far-right and white supremacist violence is the single greatest terror threat to America.
So why isn’t the governmental response to right-wing terrorism proportional to the documented threat?
One reason is the words we choose to use. “This Nashville suicide bombing isn’t terrorism,” apologists protest, “because Warner didn’t have a political motive.” But even with that caveat, Dylan Roof—the white supremacist who murdered 9 Black Christians with the stated intent to start a race war—was not charged with terrorism. Meanwhile, the surviving Boston bomber Tsarnev, an extremist Muslim who killed four and injured others, was tried and convicted of terrorism.
A Right-Wing Double Standard
This right-wing double standard is systemic and widespread. Eddie Gallagher was convicted of sniper killing a small Afghan school girl as she walked home from school. Donald Trump pardoned him despite his conviction. Four Blackwater contractors were convicted of killing 17 Iraqi civilians, including 9 year old Ali Kinani. So gruesome was Ali’s murder that according to reports, his brain fell out of his head and onto the street. So compassionate were Ali’s parents that they donated half the monetary compensation from the US military to a hospital for wounded US soldiers. And in thanks for their compassion, Donald Trump pardoned all four war criminals.
So is it a surprise to anyone that the President ignited an insurrection on January 6th? Then he followed it up with tweets praising the actual Nazis with tweets lamenting how they’ve been wronged and how much he loves them? Not to anyone who has been paying attention. But just as concerning is the complicit nature of Congressional Republicans who knowingly perpetuated the lie of “mass voter fraud” without a shred of evidence. Their lies to their own constituents painted a false and dangerous narrative that ultimately led to deadly mass violence on Capitol Hill.
Part of the Problem
Ted Cruz was caught sending out fundraising texts hours after the attack began, bragging about “leading the fight.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported about Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman (CD1):
Several elected officials in Virginia are part of the problem. Three members of Virginia’s congressional delegation — U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman, R-1st, Ben Cline, R-6th, and Morgan Griffith, R-9th — helped incite Wednesday’s rebellion by signing on to a December lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results.
The RTD called Rep Wittman’s subsequent weak denunciation, “Too little, too late.” Unsurprising as Rep Wittman still refuses to call it terrorism, instead characterizes the insurrection and brutal deaths as a “blemish,” and still seeks to overturn the election via Supreme Court.
Recognize and Reject Right-Wing Violence
Which brings us back to why it is so critical we recognize and reject racial bias in media and government. This double standard further divides our country and harms people of color domestically and abroad. And when media and elected officials remain complicit by refusing to demand accountability, they fail to acknowledge white supremacy and right wing terrorism for the existential threat to all Americans that they are. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s horrific murder at the hands of these terrorists is among the most recent painful examples of this danger.
Americans want peace and unity. But unity is not possible without accountability. And for this change to occur in society, it must first occur in the media and government. In a hotly divided America, we need justice and accountability from all those who engage in violence and terrorism, without excuse. Indeed, unity without accountability is like faith without works—dead. (James 2:26).
Qasim Rashid is an attorney, author, and former candidate for US Congress. Follow him on Twitter @QasimRashid.