There was a terrorist attack earlier today in Austin, TX. I can’t immediately learn about this incident though if I visit the New York Times website. This (see below) is what I would see on the “National” section of their website as of 8p.m. Central, 2/18/10. The main page of the NYTimes has no prominent reference at all. It just has a single line hyperlink under the section “more news.”
Got that? “Plane hits building.” Written as commonly as “Dog Bites Man.” Nothing to see here folks. Move along.
It wasn’t just the NYTimes though. To their credit FoxNews features the incident as the main story on their website. “Cowardly criminal,” it blares. You know, kind of like an intoxicated hit-and-run driver is a “cowardly criminal.” No terrorism here.
Ok, so I have cited the “liberal media” and I have cited the “conservative media.” Let me now turn to what I consider the last honest media outlet. My beloved NPR. Surely they will call this like it is? Nope.
You see, the very definition of terrorism has changed, right beneath our feet. A man with strong idealogical beliefs against the government of the United States tries (and succeeds) to kill himself and take as many civilians (federal workers) as he can with him. But they don’t call it terrorism. That sacrosanct term is now reserved only for non-white people with funny sounding names. Preferably Muslim.
Here are some excerpts from 53-year-old Joseph Andrew Stack’s web-based manifesto (which came to light after this morning’s events):
We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in. [Link]
Belief that the U.S. government is corrupt, committing crimes against the people, and must be punished? Check. Belief that his small act will help even the score? Check. Virgins waiting for him in the afterlife? Ok no. But come on!
My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ’80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. [Link]
p>Doesn’t he sound like he hates America? You know, kind of like terrorists who kill not only their intended victims but try to instill fear/collective punishment in the masses as well?
p>I am most disappointed in the Obama Administration’s response. Here is White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs from today’s daily brief:
MR. GIBBS: All right, fire away.
Q Any more details you can tell us about the plane crash?
MR. GIBBS: No — as I said earlier, John Brennan briefed the President. We’ve gotten a number of updates on the flight from the Situation Room. The President will get regular updates as well as local and federal officials figure out what happened on the ground.
Q To follow up on my question earlier, there was some talk before we left that this might have been a case of domestic terrorism, that distinction that it might have been a domestic act of terrorism. Is there any clarity on that?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I took your question to mean an incident of foreign — terrorism from — that had threatened the homeland from somebody like an al Qaeda. As I said earlier, we don’t suspect that. I am going to wait, though, for all the situation to play out through investigation before we determine what to label it. Ben, I would say this. You have — again, I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the investigation, but obviously — well, let me just do this. Let me wait until we get a better sense of where we are on the facts.
Q Do you think the President will address it? Does it rise to that level?
MR. GIBBS: I think some of it depends on sort of where — what we learn and where this goes. [Link]
I am ok with, and admire Gibbs wanting to wait for the facts. Boy am I going to look stupid if I have my facts wrong in this blog post. If so, I will apologize. No issue there. What freakin’ bugs the shit out of me is the highlighted sentence above. Allow me to paraphrase in my own words:
“MR. GIBBS: Well, I took your question to mean an incident of foreign — terrorism from — that had threatened the homeland from somebody that was like black or brown and/or Muslim. Do plain old white guys really count Ben?”
Earlier this year the Obama Administration’s Homeland Security Department ITSELF warned that there was a high chance of DOMESTIC TERRORISM:
(U//LES) The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific
information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,
but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about
several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first
African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and
— (U//LES) Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups
during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry
out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic
downturn–including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability
to obtain credit–could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing
extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and
government authorities similar to those in the past.
— (U//LES) Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first
African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new
members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal
through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning… [Link]
p>So here is the new reality dear readers. It is only domestic terrorism if the person is Arab, South Asian, Muslim, foreign. Only foreign-domestic terrorists. Got that? You heard it here on SM first. Carry on now. Especially you IRS workers or other federal employees.
p>Update: Ennis reminds me about another commonality between many foreign terrorists and Joseph Andrew Stack. Engineering is a popular profession among them. Stack was a software engineer.
p>Update 2: Via Ben Smith, it seems that newly elected Senator Scott Brown SYMPATHIZES with Stack. Why can’t we all similarly learn to sympathize with terrorists more often. Feel their pain?:
I agree that it’s hard to call this terrorism. This has way more in common with the biology professor’s or the VT student’s shooting rampages than 9/11, mode of attack notwithstanding. This was a guy working alone, with a very specific personal frustration against his target — it just so happened that the target was a government building and not a university.
(Incidentally, speaking of terrorism, Pune should have been mentioned on this blog. The posts around the same time talk about Valentine’s Day and MNIK, and I think anyone would agree that the bomb blast was at least as important, heart-rending, shocking, and urgent as desi Hallmark and weepy SRK. But whatevs.)
well then take a look at what a left-winger says:
But much to my surprise, the manifesto is 96% left-wing.
No it does not. Unlike them this guy was motivated by an anti-government, anti-tax ideology and had associated for many years with like minded people. If this is not a clear cut case of domestic anti-govt terrorism then the word is being applied prejudicially.
A congressman tells it like it is:
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said that one of his first thoughts about the apparently intentional plane crash earlier today in Austin was being “concerned that this is where fanaticism can lead.” “Like the larger-scale tragedy in Oklahoma City, this was a cowardly act of domestic terrorism,” he said through his office. “Stack’s [the pilot] apparent website message reflects the steadily increasing flow of ‘the government is out to get me’ paranoia. That so many have already contributed to a Facebook page as ‘fans’ of this terrorist attack on public servants is a truly appalling expression of extremism
who did he assocate with? Source?
I think everyone should read the note he left. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0218102stack1.html
The level of denial here in terms of how much empathy is extended to this person vs. other people who run planes into buildings and the like is remarkable. I think there are differences between what he did and, say, al qaeda, but then there are differences among all kinds of people who engage in violent acts to send messages in the same way that there are differences among the methods of the people who believe in those messages.
Let’s just say that if he had a different ideology and background, the leaders of the Tea party movement and many others would currently be being investigated. They might be anyway, but it’s always easier to do so with foreigners and perceived foreigners and those of us who have one foot in the door and one foot being pushed out.
I’m with you on this…but fyi, the story was on the main page of the NYT this morning when I woke up.
And this surprises you?
Good post Abhi. Maybe only white people get the mental illness pass? (I often want to analyze last twenty years of coverage of the role of post-partum depression in child abuse cases . . .)
Good Post. A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. Look at these definitions: The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as â€œthe calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.â€ Within this definition, there are three key elementsâ€”violence, fear, and intimidationâ€”and each element produces terror in its victims. The FBI uses this: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The U.S. Department of State defines “terrorism” to be “premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
Shall they start profiling angry white men? Isn’t racial profiling the solution to terrorism? “Doocy: â€˜All The People Who Tried To Blow Airliners Out Of The Sky Pretty Much Look Alikeâ€™ “ (on Think progress)
Oh wait the GOP makes an exception: Scott Brown Yawns At Plane Attack On IRS Building: â€˜No One Likes Paying Taxesâ€™ http://thinkprogress.org/2010/02/18/scott-brown-terrorism-yawn/
No, it doesn’t surprise me. It surprises me a little how many people here are defending that double standard.
I agree, his ideology is something like populist left libertarian, at least based on the excerpts in the post. And that’s exactly the point – terrorism is a METHOD, not an ideology, designed to evoke a feeling, often among non combatants. That has been the point for many of us all along.
That is why when the ‘War on Terror’ was annoucned many of us were literally confused, given that ‘Terror’ is not a geographic location, a government, or even a non-state actor. Terrorism is a form of political violence; Terror is a feeling. How you undertake a literal, rather than metaphoric, war on such a thing, or think it’s even a good idea, is what boggles the mind. repeatedly. You don’t investigate Act Blue or the Tea Party based on this guy’s actions, and you don’t shut down hawalla networks for people to send money to their families across the board because those systems have been used to fund some political violence.
Where this person could be put in the ‘political violence but not terrorism’ category to me is if you could demonstrate that he was acting based on a strategic rationale that was not designed to produce terror but simply undertaking an individual attack on a state institution. But that’s not the point – the media in the U.S., as we know, makes no such fine distinctions 99% of the time. If he were a Muslim (or Arab or a few other things) non-state actor, or could be made to appear Muslim, or if his identity were unknown and it could be rumoured he were Muslim, he would be called ‘a terrorist.’
and this fine and noble parsing that we see in the comments above – which is worthwhile, but only if done consistently – would not have been undertaken. Because the person in question – the nonWhite, non American, non-assumed Christian person – would get no empathy and would be dehumanised. Like a ‘naxal’ or ‘a fundamentalist’ or ‘a terrorist.’
Stack’s manifesto went far beyond hatred for tax authorities, he had a critique of government behavior broadly, not just to himself but to others. Even his comments about the Catholic Church has a long tradition.
Iâ€™m just not sure â€œBawww the gubmint sucks and the IRS is picking on me!â€ really constitutes a comprehensive political ideology. Damn near every idea has a â€œlong history,â€ that doesnâ€™t make it terrorism either. Nobody really agrees on a good definition of terrorism, but just about everyone agrees that one of the baseline conditions is that the act of violence itself must be intended to achieve a political objective through incitement of fear and panic. If heâ€™s not trying to scare people into meeting his demands itâ€™s not terrorism, itâ€™s a tantrum.
Americans would never call Indians getting killed by Jihadis or Naxals as terrorism. Birds of a feather.. But, hey, there are quite a few indians who would do the same.
Fuk, the Americans had Headley eating out of their hand, but had to take him in when he wanted to target their buddies across the pond. Double fuk, Mahesh Bhatt’s son was cavorting with that guy around town.
Just be glad Sagarika is not there in good ol’ USA. She would surely blame this incident on “hindu terror,” maybe write a book on the topic, at least sell a few t-shirts: beware of hindu taliban. Meanwhile, naxal and jihadi bombs are going off all around her.
as per the constitution of the yoonited states of america (read the document. the way the founding fathers intended it. with a teabag!), it is not terrorism unless the black box (do private planes have black boxes? sympathy forprivate plane flying tax dodgers!) recorded him saying allahu akbar.
don’t worry, “dude”. hindu violence in india is called “riots”, not pogroms or terrorism, so there’s really no need for you to complain.
a person who hates big government is a terrorist amirite. Clearly the teabaggers, hell anybody but progressives, need to be in prison. This should finally open our eyes to this obvious truth.
ah yes, “bizarro.”
the “one true god, get them idolators” fixation of the hindus sikhs buddhists and jains, i’ll try to remember that.
The Republicans are in a strange position these days. They now have to argue that a dude who flew a plane into a federal building is not a terrorist. Last week they had to argue that there is too much free speech at the campus of Irvine, UC.
the right to free speech is absolute and unquestionable. if you are a corporation, that is. if you are carrying a sign saying “bong hits 4 jesus”, however, your right to free speech can be abridged. ask scalia or thomas, they’ll explain it to you just right.
Naxalism isn’t really terrorism either, it’s insurrection. Terrorists try to use terror to bully states into doing what they want. Insurrectionists aim to overthrow and replace the state.
It’s a lot harder to stage an insurrection since you need to actually field an army. Even if it’s an army of ill-trained, ill-equipped rabble, you still need them out there to take and hold territory.
can we please stop talking about naxals already? I will delete any additional mention of naxals from this thread.
Look, FoxNews isn’t going to call this man out as a terrorist because too much of his hodge-podge ideology matches with the core ideology of the Tea Party movement, a movement that FoxNews has worked hard to cultivate and agitate. Describing him as a terrorist will not only alienate the members of that group that secretly admire him, but will also put their continued support and admiration for the Tea Party movement under harsher scrutiny. And speaking as a software engineer, there are many who are libertarian, or have a dim view of the government in general, and vice versa, I find that at the libertarian meetings I’ve gone to, almost all are software engineers.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that this guy was a libertarian or that it’s because of libertarian ideology ( because what I’ve seen quoted, he’s not a libertarian )
What is the point in all this? They called a brown man a ‘terrorist’ so now we are going to call a white man a ‘terrorist’ and then everything will be even and there will be peace on earth ?
Isn’t this whole topic a bit too petty and off-topic ? Sure, SM looks for the desi angle in everything, but lets not stretch it ?
If this is terrorism then that guy who went on a shooting rampage at the army base, the other guy who went on a driving rampage (in san fran), the woman who shot colleagues for lost tenure, the guy who “terrorized” people by carrying an un-concealed weapon during an Obama townhall, etc etc are all terrorist.
So sure, lets label them all as terrorists and be done with it. Lets make clear demarcations. They. Separate from us. We of the clear consciences. We the dutiful taxpaying nationalist citizens (albeit browner than we’d like to be). They, the misfits. They, the troublemakers. They, the terrorists. We the liberals, the forward thinking elite bourgeois. They the communists, the naxalites, the L.T.T.E.
They. Separate from us. Neatly labeled and boxed separately.
There’s a dead man out there. A devastated family left behind. Some other innocents dead/injured in “collateral damage”. Lets demonize him and apply our labels, because how else would we define them and ourselves, if not by labels.
No. As has been explained a few hundred times already in this thread. Reading and understanding logic is fundamental.
The republican position in that incident–a muslim group disrupted a lecture given by an israeli official and were kicked out–was framed as pro free speech and was entirely consistent with even liberal theories of what constitutes free speech. only the far left tries to frame stopping those who prevent the speech of others as an act of censorship.
I guess its a testament to the prestige freedom of speech has that even censors are unwilling to call themselves such.
The NYTimes is a corporation. the CU case and the incident in Irvine UC are examples of why the American right is critical to maintaining freedom in this nation. The level of censorship on the left can be rather shocking.
hahaha. you are funny.
Ah yes, logic. There are like 5 different definitions of terrorism up there in the comments. And its all relative anyway(one mans terrorist is another mans….)
Logic requires some absolute truths and fallacies. black or white. yes or no. no greys and maybes.
Are we really arguing about how this dead man should be labeled? Are your panties in a bunch because the media did not label him a terrorist?
What sort of juvenile inferiority complex are you guys harboring? The title of the post speaks volumes.
I do so enjoy my freedom to have monied interests leverage their already outsized power and influence to manipulate the electoral process for their own fun and profit. Just smell that liberty Manju! Freedom to rent-seek (but only if you have the money to bombard someone with an ad campaign.)
Maju stated: The republican position in that incident–a muslim group disrupted a lecture given by an israeli official and were kicked out–was framed as pro free speech and was entirely consistent with even liberal theories of what constitutes free speech
Interesting that the right had to rely on liberal interpretation of what constitutes free speech on campuses. Funny, I thought all these years, the big problem on campuses was that the minority/unpopular opinion on issues of race, gays did not have enough protection. I would hope that Campus Freedom Network/FIRE will now be taking up the cause of the unpopular Irvine 11.
these statements are indicative of a peculiar behaviour often seen in partisans: they appear to have a vested interest in the belief that the opinions of the other side reflect an overwhelming zeitgeist. But this belief is only maintainable if one erases the influence of ones own side.
The links in 42 clearly demonstrate the NYTimes declined to label the Ft Hood shooting terrorism, or even political violence. Indeed Anand in 17 demonstrates even Foxnews declined early on. The president of the united states famously avoided any such label. So here we have huge institutional forces–the white house, the paper of record, even fox–taking your side and still, people can proclaim definitively that there would “not even be an argument” if he were muslim.
and if the white house and the paper of record can be erased, what of hugely influential progressive blogosphere, who regularly profess opinons like:
Just Because Someone Screams Allahu Akbar Doesn’t Automatically Connect Them To A Terrorist Cell
Fox’s mass leap to label Ft. Hood shootings ‘terrorism’ is classic ethnic/religious hysteria
most of the evidence so far seems to indicate this was a militarized case of “going postal” — which is always a horrific thing, but lacks the political/ideological component that always defines real acts of terrorism.
…while simultaneously offerinfg opinions like this:
Huh? Since when is attempting to blow up a federal building NOT an act of domestic terrorism?
The only way your narrative is made possible is by pretending the above doesn’t exist.
Which monied interest did Citizens United represent?
the libertarian right, along with the aclu left, has long created a broad “free-speech” consensus resisting the authoritarian left and right.FIRE (I believe has the likes of nat hetcoff are on the BOD) is indicative of this consensus.
But with the CU case, I fear we are losing the ACLU-left (though, i think the ACLU was on the right side of CU). But even the ACLU has tried to suppress the free speech rights of the St patricks day parade organizers, 4 liberal justices tried to suppress the free speech rights of the boy scouts, and recently a popular liberal congressman, alan grayson, attempted to jail (for 5 years) a critcâ€¦and was met with crickets from the left. it should be noted, he was using federal election laws as a pretext.
what dangerous about the UC case is that iits indicative to where the left is moving: ie toward censorship in the name of protecting minority rights, though they will frame the censorship as free speech. Hate speech laws are another example of this.
Firstly, I don’t think American media is worth analyzing and criticizing. Any one who does so, upon being shocked by their double standards, is looking at them assuming that they are essentially objective and fair. They are not, nor do they strive to be. We should not wasting our energy on them, for they know no higher meaning to their existence than merely using their powerful position to tell people stories that they feel good hearing.
The issue is of inconsistency and double standards that you have raised is on two counts – first is the manner of reporting the act and second is the manner of reaction from the state toward the actor behind the act. The state surely is not consistent. The state cast numerous instantaneous doubts on the actions of the Fort Hood shooter, even while they are being cautious with this person, and he is even is being sympathized with. The point is no one sympathized with with the Fort Hood guy, nor was anyone cautious.
In America, it is common to sympathize, but not empathize. Anyone with pain just as grave as another will not get sympathy from the other if his pain is not of the same kind or caused by the same causes as the other’s. When Fort Hood happened, it did not invite introspection on the part of the state or empathy. Rather than growing in awareness of the consequences of its own behavior, the state only sought to reinforce its long-held ideas – the idea that it is not in any way contributing to the harm that comes its way and it does not need to change of its own actions that fuel this harm. Rather than of think of such actions that are leading to such reactions, the state has only grown more ogre-ish and more ruthless in its self-defense. American understanding of pragmatism, prudence, causality and the workings of the world is juvenile at best and roguish at worst.
“Unverified reports, some from his family members, suggest that Major Hasan complained of harassment by fellow soldiers for being a Muslim”
Fort Hood: Obama urges caution amid fears of backlash against Muslims
thank you for the compendium of links about the hypocrisy of the right wing media. it is awesome.
not sure what your point is, manju. good to see that the nyt was cautious, but the right wing blogosphere and media were right away eager to label ft hood as muslim terrorism. the fox videos are easy to find as are lieberman’s statements. here is a much longer list of what you are trying to deny. enjoy
other things which are problematic ONLY when some people do it.
my point was made in 83. I’ve supplied you with examples from hugely powerful institutions—the white house and the paper of record–both doing what many here claim doesn’t exist. By pretending this doesn’t exist, only then can one come to the conclusion that “It is only domestic terrorism if the person is Arab” or “nor was anyone cautious” (in regards to ft hood) or “Maybe only white people get the mental illness pass?”
OK, I supplied you with quotes in 83 from a left-wing blog denying any political motivation for the fort hood shooter while simultaneously jumping to conclusions about this guy. Now, if i were to conclude from that evidence that “the media” has a double standard and that everyone is jumping to concussions here while they didn’t with fort hood, what would be the flaw in my reasoning?
Please show me where I denied this.
Good job, Suede. You said it better than I could. Complaining about how groups of people are percieved and how unfair the media labels of them are, is a waste of time. Yes, life is not fair. Pointing out how unfair the world is doesn’t seem to be changing anything, it just provokes a tit for tat response. Sepia Mutiny is a form of media though, and therefore is primarily concerned w/ media perception of south asians and south asian americans. So it’s not surprising that this is the angle of the post. Ta-da!
He sounds like a “tea party” member. Does that count as belonging to a group that preaches about the take over of a government?
The funniest thing was the way right wing radio and Fox news rushed to label this guy “crazy”. Glenn Beck even had a “Camera 2 inches from his face” moment, where he says “I watch the news every day and it doesnt make me crazy.” I laughed until my stomach hurt, as the guy, who cries on his show every other week and will make the camera look him in the eye, claims the news doesnt make him crazy.
So has the IRS announced revenge plans yet, in the way that the CIA did recently in Afghanistan? I was under the impression that the CIA had some type of spy code to keep its overseas missions secret, come hell or highwater. But all that regulations stuff seems to go out the window when you’re pissed off enough. So did Stack succeed in pissing off the IRS? Do Americans need to watch over their shoulders for pissed off agents with pocket protectors and tube socks?
that you mix cause and effect. the left wing blog is applying the same logic as the right wingers to show what it implies.
the paper of record was far more ambiguous about nidal malik as the wikilink shows unlike the irs man.
o, please; you just made that up. There’s no evidence those posts are parody’s. Nor is Abhi’s. Indeed, the writer in question, david neiwert, is known for his thesis arguing that the the radical right (militia, kkk) has close links to the mainstream one and that rhetoric emanating from the mainstream right enables right-wing terrorists. the book is called “the eliminationists.” he cast a wide net, characterizing hate crimes as evidence of right-wing violence and even Lyndon larouche supporters as part of the right.
you are correct that the logic apes the guilt-by-association and jumping to conclusions that characterizes the right vis a vis Islamic terror…but this argument is indeed genuine and has been used by the likes of bill Clinton and Paul krugman.
it is not parody. it is just a clear elucidation of the logic.