Actually, that question can be asked of all of the media. You may or may not have heard about this incident. It occurred at the New Orleans Airport over the weekend. We all know that if a Muslim had done the attacking, it would be headlined around the country as an “act of terrorism.” But, the attacker wasn’t a Muslim, so we haven’t heard the term used even once.
Last Friday night, Richard White, a 63-year-old former Army serviceman carried a duffel bag holding six homemade explosives, a machete, and poison spray into the airport. He approached the TSA security checkpoint, and then sprayed two TSA officers with the poison. He then grabbed his machete and chased another TSA officer with it.
He was then shot and killed by the police. After the incident, a search of Mr. White’s car by the police revealed it contained acetylene and oxygen tanks, two substances that, when mixed together, will yield a powerful explosive.
I have read several pieces on this attack, and no one ever mentioned it as an “act of terror.” It certainly looks on the surface as an act of terrorism. But, no one ever called it that. As a matter of fact, within hours of the attack law enforcement was quick to chalk this incident up to the attacker’s alleged “mental health issues.”
Mr. White has been retired for some time and living on social security and disability checks. Further, he was reportedly a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Interviews with his neighbors, however, don’t even give a hint that he had mental problems. They described White as a “meek” and “kind” man who a few had spoken to just days before the incident and everything seemed fine.
Now, maybe Mr. White does suffer from some “mental issues.” But, I still find it funny that no Muslim involved in something like this can possibly suffer from “mental issues.” If Mr. White was a Muslim, you would be certain Fox News would have plastered their headlines with “Terrorism” for weeks on end. But, since it wasn’t committed by a Muslin, Fox News is somewhat quiet about the incident.
Furthermore, the police never even looked into whether or not Mr. White had some sort of grudge against the government. Nor, did they investigate whether or not he expressed any anti-government sentiments prior to the attack. After all, he did only attack TSA officers. He did not attack any of the passengers waiting in line with him.
We have seen conservatives attack the TSA in the past. They have argued that the TSA is only interested in taking away our liberties. For example, Alex Jones’ Infowars website is filled with anti-TSA articles claiming that the TSA’s goal is not to prevent terrorism but to “harass” travelers and get into “our pants.” Glen Beck warned in the past that the TSA was potentially becoming President Obama’s “private army” with the goal being to take away our liberties.
Then, in 2012, Senator Rand Paul lashed out against the TSA for what he viewed as the agency’s improper treatment of him. In fact after the incident, Paul penned an op-ed denouncing the TSA, writing that “it is infuriating that this agency feels entitled to revoke our civil liberties while doing little to keep us safe.”
Ted Cruz who announced his candidacy for president yesterday is famous for saying that the President can’t make himself to say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” Well here is an example of what some would call “radical Christian terrorism,” and Mr. Cruz is silent on the issue.
Conservatives, trying to show some concern for Muslims often say that “every Muslim is not a terrorist,” but “every terrorist is a Muslim.” Considering that this story received no coverage about it being even possibly an “act of terrorism,” makes it easy to understand why the average person may believe that nonsense.
Mr. White’s attack is not the first attack on TSA either. In October 2012, Paul Ciancia traveled to LAX, where he took out a rifle from his bag and shot two TSA officers, killing one. Ciancia had written anti-government tracts in the past and was—to little media fanfare, and none from the right-wing media—actually charged months later with an “act of terrorism.
Because of this twisted mindset, we are more unsafe today than we were ten years ago. The fact that we will only use the word “terrorism” if a Muslim commits an attack, and refuse to recognize “terrorism” committed by Christians who are U.S. citizens makes homegrown terrorists even more dangerous.
As I wrote before, terrorism is terrorism. It doesn’t matter who the terrorist is. We need to recognize that fact and stop apologizing for the non-Muslims who commit “acts of terrorism.” But, that will take away the right-wing’s us against them narrative. Maybe that is why none of them covered this incident as an “act of terrorism.”