York Congressman Peter King's hearings regarding so-called
Islamic radicalism in the USA have raised some interesting
questions, once again, about how one defines "terrorism."
It was as recently as 2009 that a Department of Homeland
Security report came out specifically addressing the rise
of domestic, homegrown, right-wing terrorism in the USA.
The Republican Party immediately jumped on this report as
being allegedly biased and partisan but they were never
able or willing to refute the actual facts in the report.
March 10, 2011 Congressmen Benny Thompson and Keith Ellison
addressed Rep. King's committee expressing their unease
and disagreements regarding the nature of these hearings.
Their eloquently worded concerns did not dissuade Congressman
King from continuing the hearings. He had earlier ridiculed
critics of his actions, suggesting that they were stuck
in being 'politically correct.'
the hearings raise an interesting question. If King wishes
to investigate communities that support terror and where
there is demonstrable and documented evidence of terror,
when will Rep. King begin hearings on white America and
its links with terror?
the USA between 2000 and 2009 there was a 54% increase in
the number of hate groups, to more than 900. During part
of that time (2003-7) there was also an up-tick
in hate crimes, specifically against Latinos, where
there was a 40% increase. No reference to Muslim terrorists
or the Muslim community. No reports of Muslims chasing
Latinos around the country. The FBI reported that 2/3 of
the terrorism in the USA between 1980-2001 was committed
by non-Muslim, US individuals (and groups). Now, hold onto
your hats: between 2002-5 95% of the terrorism was committed
by non-Muslim, US individuals and groups, as reported by
on Foreign Relations. Added to this was the interesting
fact that while militia groups, as such, had been in decline
from 1996-2008, immediately following the 2008 election
there was a dramatic
rise in the number of such groups. Perhaps I should
add that there is also rising concern about the penetration
of the US military by domestic, right-wing extremists.
this information, much of which comes from official US government
sources, Rep. King and his allies insist - contrary to the
facts - that the major threat comes from Muslim terrorists
and, by implication, the alleged complicity of some or much
of the Muslim American community in the USA. What he does
not choose to explore are the reasons why domestic, right-wing
terrorism is almost never on the agenda of the mainstream
conservative politicians. One only has to remember the
aftermath of the Oklahoma city bombing in 1995. The initial
popular assumption was that the bombing had been carried
out by Muslims. When it was discovered that it had been
carried out by white Americans, the entire tenor of discussions
changed to a search to better understand the rationale of
the terrorists in committing this mass murder.
I do not promote conspiracy theories regarding how the entire
right-wing is one cabal (since it is not), it is important
to understand that the mainstream right-wing cannot go after
the extremist right-wing without challenging many of the
assumptions that the mainstream right-wing itself acts upon
and/or promotes. The extreme Right, for instance, is dominated
by Birthers, those who believe that Obama is not a US citizen
by birth. Well, mainstream right-wing figures, such as
Huckabee and Gingrich have both come very close to suggesting
just that, while quickly denying that they believe that
he is anything other than a US citizen by birth. Yet, when
Huckabee suggests - incorrectly - that Obama spent his early
life in Kenya, it fuels right-wing theories. Or, when right-wing
extremists suggested that the election of Obama in 2008
would lead to the seizure of the personal weapons of US
citizens, there were mainstream political figures and pundits
who repeated that same message. Or take a look at the response
to the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords from Arizona.
While the alleged assailant appears to be mentally ill,
he also appears to be driven by conspiracy theories that
have become a mantra on right-wing talk radio, yet the mainstream
political Right not only denies this but ridicules the suggestion
of any connections.
there is a community within which there is a long history
of the birth, spread and support of domestic terrorism,
it is white America. This does NOT mean that all whites
are terrorists or that all or most whites support terrorism.
It is to say that if one were to use the framework that
Rep. King is using in his demonization of Muslim Americans,
one would have to conclude that a very close and thorough
examination of the institutions of white America is in order.
someone like to offer a motion?
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar
with the Institute
for Policy Studies, the immediate past president ofTransAfrica Forum and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor
in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.