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 think Sepia Mutiny should follow Angry Asian Man and just disable comments. I thought this was a really cool post, but became discouraged and annoyed by the discussions in the comment section. Some of these opinions are just knee-jerk contrarianism without being informed of history, politics, or precedent.
Others have brought out the Patriot Act definition, the Dept of Defense definition, and the FBI definition of domestic terrorism, along with the very clear precedent of the unabomber, yet the harangue continues unabated.
This post was so on-target that I think it should be convert into an op-ed for a newspaper.
then I’m not sure what your objection is. he deploys similar logic that say daniel pipes does and he means it, except of course he doesn’t deploy in regards to Islamic terror or any leftwing or environmentalist political violence. in those cases., the individuals mental state and personal issues take priority and linking the terrorist, if he’s even called that, to any larger movement is Mccarthyism. The right wing practices something similar which i assume is the source of all the consternation here. ergo, i’m here to infrom you the flaw in your reasoning is that you’re using the right as a substitute for all media.
now as to whether this is an effect of the right first deploying the logic (your cause/effect argument) i haven’t he slightest but i doubt it. I recall bill clinton making a similar argument after OK city which was picked up by many liberals.
there’s not much of an argument that radical right-wingers are fueled by dogwhistles and assorted dialectic in the right wing media and by right wing figures, just as nidal was incited and fueled by radical islamists. so your bringing up the point is a red herring. the qn is whether one can be labeled a terrorist action while the other can’t.
well, there’s certainly an arguement depending on which radical you hold morally repsonsable for the terrorst’s actions. if its a radical iman then your’re probaly ok. if you cite CAIR, you may be praticing islamophobia. the problem with your above statment is you draw a paralel between “radical islamists” and the “right wing media.” the correct // would be “radical islamists” and the racist right, like the KKK or the author of the turner diaries, who are likely to directly influnce terrorists. the right wing media is more in te positon of CAIR, it can get iffy. this is where the argument lies.
ergo, I supplied you with examples of people lableing stack a terrorist but declining with nidal…contradicting abhi’s narrative. You can also add the LAX El Al shooting, whch was not orignially reproted as terrorism or labled such by the FBI until months later, probably becuase the lone-shooter nature of the incident made it appear less terroristic. the kid with who flew a plane into a bulding with a bin laden note was also debatable. a similar deabte arose after the Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar SUV attack.
Who’s thinking up this chanakyan strategy of intervening in the teapot-IRS civil war? The other minorities (Blacks and Latinos) are not really getting their p___ in a twist over this incident. And they have far more experience than Indians in the peculiar American society. Take off the outrage junky activist goggles and look at the situation clearly.
You have to be brown or muslim to be called a terrorist
and as i said, that label is a direct reaction to the right wing labeling of nidal. and as i showed you, the nyt was much more willing to raise the t-word with nidal than with stack.
i will take your word for it. cuz faux’s dogwhistles sound an awful lot like encouragement of crazies to me.
actually, you failed to substantiate either argument except to make a vague reference to wiki for the 2nd one. i’m not saying your wrong but it sounds like argument by assertion.
the question is, should they censor themselves b/c of crazies. after, all islamists have picked up the rhetoric of left vis a vis American foreign policy and criticism of Israel….but at what point is holding them morally responsible for terrorism tantamount ot McCarthyism.
no vague reference to wiki. there is a set of links.
no. but people will rightly draw a line from the fake outrage they generate to the real world consequences. reasonable people will see the difference between that and the spurious israel analogy that you draw.
yeah, but the sematic issue is not the core problem. this is a fight between militia types and the feds.
Believe me, we have considered it. I frankly don’t bother reading comments on our own site anymore (some of my own posts being an exception) because most of them are worthless. If I recommend SM to someone I usually follow with “you don’t have to read the comments.” This wasn’t always the case. When SM started it was a great place for discussion and had many enlightening comments…even from right-leaning readers. I used to actually learn a great deal and it was a treat. That was mostly due to the fact that the comment threads were heavily moderated and illogical and ignorant lines of argument were systematically dismantled and marginalized. So who comments on SM now? You got a good cross-section represented near the top of this comment thread. Many of the most prolific batch of current commenters are knee-jerk contrarians who enjoy commenting as a sport. A sport most are amateurs at. You see a lot of cherry picking of information (not always facts), Tu quoque fallacies, and a lot of random tangents that have nothing to do with the post. And then there is the subset of commenters that don’t actually read the post. Ever. They read the title and the first sentence then they use the comment section to write their own blog post on some subject that may not even be related. But boy, it must be important if they are writing about it!
So who do I blame? Myself and our other bloggers. But seriously, we just don’t have the time to address every stupid comment since we do this as a hobby. Bratton knew that the only way to take back New York City was to aggressively police even the graffiti artists and squeegee men. Right now the SM comment section is dominated by this type. So if you are an informed reader who doesn’t like what you are reading in the comments please don’t hold us SM bloggers responsible for some of the ignorance. Just know that our police department is underfunded and understaffed. We suggest that you just stay out of the neighborhood.
Just enjoy (or rail at inside) the posts, and pass them on to a friend. And thanks to all the lurkers out there that don’t always feel the need to comment vomit. A few of you had nice things to say about this post over email and over twitter. I thank the silent majority.
Domestic terror is a big problem in the USA..it mostly happens from Christians or more likely those kids who shoot up schools..there is something fundamentally wrong in America, despite all that is right
From Abhi’s post:
Fire away? The old foot in the mouth, Mr. Gibbs?
I agree with Abhi. Not calling this demented guy a terrorist is like giving him a pass on “mental health” grounds. Never mind that terrorists too have mental health issues or they wouldn’t be terrorists. But who cares? Their ideology and affiliations completely color our perception of them, but their mental sickness is as serious as Timothy McVeigh’s, the postal workers’, the Unabomber’s and that of other mass killers who are never called terrorists.
Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s take, which is basically identical:
oops sorry – here’s linky:
Always amusing to see non-whites defending white privilege at their own expense. Very stupid.
This nutjob was motivated by ideology as are the al-Qaeda, unlike the other examples you ridiculously try to lump him with.
Damn near ever soldier who ever picked up a gun was motivated by some ideology or other. That doesn’t make them “terrorists.”
You can’t just cavalierly throw that word around because it makes you feel good. It actually means something and that has an impact on the real world. Especially given that we seem to be headed into a norm of detaining people indefinitely and withholding certain constitutional rights on the basis of terrorists being “enemy combatants.”
Wasn’t defending anyone’s privilege. If I’m not agreeing with you, it doesn’t mean I’m defending someones supposed superiority.
I just don’t see the point in getting so worked up about the media not labeling him a terrorist.
Last time I will engage this stupidity. The point of “getting worked up” is the double standard! Not just in the media (who gives and ef about them, right??) but by OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. Same crime. One standard if you are white, another if you are not. If you don’t get worked up over just a blatant double standard then nothing will work you up. And writing and bringing attention to the double standard IS doing something about it.
Abhi…I think he’s a terrorist too, but your double standard argument was debunked effectively as early as Anand in 17. Clearly the NY Times did not label Nidal a terrorist, even when it was known he posted comments on the Internet about suicide bombings, yelled “”Allahu akbar!”, and held anti-American and anti-war views. it wasn’t until evidence emrgerded of contact with — well–terrorist, that the tide began to turn. and even then they hedged their bet, asking:
your accusations against the Obama admin are equally weak, as you’ve been presented with evidence that they also declined the terrorist label for nidal. there was more debate about this than I think you remember–probably because of the peculiar partisan phenomena i identified in 83. for example, the noecon TNR said at the time:
doesn’t quite fit the narrative, eh? I think if you examine the cases of the SUV terrorist or the LAX shooter–both Muslim assailants–you will find a similar reaction.
So the basic takeaway is that if an opinion expressed here, no matter how respectfully but cogently argued, is not in line within an acceptable range of the opinion of the post, then it is “knee-jerk contrarian” and consisting of “tu quoque fallacies”? I think therein lies the reason for the general breakdown in comments. If a more conservative opinion is expressed, it is immediately attacked as smacking of uncle tomism and fascism or as being bereft of facts.
Say what you want about Manju, but he/she has at least attempted to argue on the basis of facts and not ad homs, but was ultimately cast aside–in spite of plentiful links. Since we’re talking double standards here, why was Aseem Shukla so shoddily treated in the comments then? One of the commenters practically pounced on him as though he were Bal Thackeray himself. Dr. Shukla is a representative of the Hindu American Foundation–an wholly american foundation–and was attempting to politely respond before he was forced to defend himself. Would Nihad Awad of CAIR have been treated so shabbily? I am not raising this question to be “anti-minority” as some would predictably say, as I have plenty of friends from all religious backgrounds. I only raise that point because those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I would urge those of you who say “look at the facts, it’s simple logic” etc etc, to look at your own records. A number of bloggers here have themselves professed ignorance about key issues in the subcontinent, so the leitmotif of having to put up with ignorant and underinformed rightwing malcontents becomes even more misplaced. Now if merely pointing this out as politely as possible (my tone in all of this is nothing but civil) gets me banned from this blog, so be it. All you would be doing then is proving Manju’s point about the far left and freedom of speech. Please bear in mind, I say this as a registered democrat. Trolls like bizarro feed off of this attitude towards more conservative perspectives and their mockery and one line non sequiturs are encouraged through benign neglect. This forces legitimate commenters such as manju and yoga fire to change tactics and tone to match bizarro. So if this blog is sincere about restoring the tone of civility, that is a good place to start.
In sum, I think this blog is a great idea and a wonderful resource for south asians of all backgrounds and communities. Moreover, I commend the founding bloggers for not attempting to cash in on this–truly a rare showing. However, if you’re going to ask the question “why has there been a decline in the tone and overall quality of comments” it’s only fair to do a little self-reflection as well. I think it is possible for people across a wide range of political perspectives and ideologies to engage in civil conversation. However, the onus for civility is on all of us and not just the conservative few.
Terrorism…. its a made up word to fit the times and evoke fear. The media is full of terrorists. This guy had a problem with the IRS, and with the current state of his reality. He did something as a response. Some will call it suicide, some will call it terrorism. But its a free country. He is free to kill himself, and we are free to judge him and judge one another. In my opinion, it is change- like that stuff Obama was talking about. I don’t mean to side with any extremists of any sort, but this world does need to change, and this Texan, like many other people led to the breaking point, were seeking change. And now I will file my taxes seeking a refund.
Google news search for ‘fort hood’ + terrorist, 11/04/09 – 11/08/09 – 127 hits. Google news search for austin + terrorist, past week leading up to 2/20/10 – 320 hits.
Just a rough cut, which I think calls for more investigation, not the conclusion that there’s no double standard in coverage or bias. My opinion.
Washington Post 11/6:
Washington Post 11/8
so it’s a mixed bag on a quick surface glance, but it has some links to an alleged global terrorist network.
You still don’t get it Manju. My argument is not debunked because you say it is so. It also isn’t my argument anymore. Lots of people before and after this post saw the same double standard I did. Greenwald in Salon and Sullivan in the Atlantic highlighted it as well. A dude McVeighed a Federal building 9/11 style and he gets far less coverage than similar incidents were the person is “foreign.” The press secretary then implies that terrorists can only be foreign as well. You can rationalize that away all you want. Peace.
I’m hoping there is a journalism student or faculty member out there that can go the extra mile on this and actually document the media and Political bias in a research paper.
Yajnavalkya, I don’t know what Shukla comment you are referring to but I would happily be rid of comments like your second sentence (pure religion baiting). It is the kind of bullshit I am tired of and why the comments section is often worthless.
Now to actually enjoy my weekend.