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diaBLOGue: Rep. Peter King: “White Guy” Terrorists? What “White Guy” Terrorists?

Aaron Patrick Flanagan • Aug 08, 2011

In this adroit piece of satire from The Daily Take concerning domestic terrorist David Burgert, Thom Hartman basically predicts the case of (bigoted) mistaken identity that plagued the imaginations of some journalists, and spread like scurvy on a pirate ship across the Islamophobic sectors of the blogosphere just after news broke of the recent terrorist attacks in Norway.

The likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both of who are cited as sources in Anders Behring Breivik’s “manifesto,” almost seemed to delight that yet another pack of bloodthirsty Muslims had committed yet another act of violent jihad, such was the speed of their responses.

Slight problem: revise “Muslims” to its singular, and then change “a Muslim” to “a white, government-despising, far-right, gun-toting, ultra-conservative nationalist who believes in violence-inspired white revolution”—just like David Burgert.

Such revisions in mind, the pith of Hartman’s argument is illuminating:

“Why is our news media foaming at the mouth when it comes to stories about Islamic terrorists, but not white guy terrorists? It’s not cause Muslims are a bigger threat. In fact, between 1980 and 2005 94% of the attempted or successful terrorist attacks on US soil were not carried out by Islamic radicals, but instead by non-Muslims, mostly white guys. So then why the obsession?

That last question is one that is oft directed at Rep. Peter King (R-NY). As the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, King’s recent congressional “trials” investigating what is for him the omnipresent threat of dedicated violent jihadists smacks of McCarthy-era-state-stoked paranoia. King has even gone as far as to ignore his own Security Committee colleagues.

In his statement to King’s hearing assessing “The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) stated the following:

“Limiting this Committee’s oversight of radicalization to one religion ignores threats posed by violent extremists of all stripes [….] Further, the violent right-wing ideology of many of these gangs must be discussed. Let us not forget that James Byrd was dragged to his death on a back road in Texas by right-wing gang members who were radicalized in jail.”

Rep. Thompson’s words fell on intentionally deaf ears, though.

King’s fundamental dedication to Islamophobia – not democracy – led us to ask our fellow Twitter’ers the following question: “After #Breviek, are DHS/King focusing too much on certain folks, not others? If so, why?”

Two of the dialogues we engaged in were particularly insightful and impassioned. Here’s a fraction of the first:

  • @JamesBazan wrote: In 1980, Lakoff wrote “Our conceptual system…plays a central role in defining our everyday realities” [….] although some would call that framework an “iron cage,” we see from @myCuentame et al that it is a “golden cage.”
  • @Imagine2050 wrote: Very interesting, James. Essentially then, the “perceived” threat must be sold to us as “THE” imminent threat. Is that on track?
  • @JamesBazan: If the perceived threat does not fit the existing organizing schema, the entire reality comes crashing down. That is why people can’t take “yes” for an answer. King is engaged in a social ritual that creates the totem, “threat,” that preserves the existing system. It does not need to be accurate. It merely needs to fulfill the functions of a social ritual in creating the totem.

Here’s a poignant fraction of the second:

  • @redhotdesi wrote: DHS is a bureaucracy with a bloated budget. Bureaucracies have to justify their existence in one way or another. This post-911 violence against Muslims and perceived Muslims is not something that started after 9-11. It was just normalized and Muslims, immigrants and other societal misfits who don’t serve the interests of Empire are a convenient target to use to push a grand surveillance project down everyone else’s throats.

The American Security Council Foundation (ASCF) also responded, urging we review a statement that the White House released that same day about its new “broad strategy to prevent ideologically inspired attacks.” In their post, the ASCF writes that “it [the report] also said the government should work to counter al-Qaida’s claim that the U.S. is ‘at war with Islam,’ saying intelligence efforts focusing on a single form of extremism are counter-productive.”

In response to the report’s claims, King apparently “expressed concern that the report ‘suggests equivalency of threats between al-Qaida and domestic extremists’.” Point being – for Rep. King, Geller, Spencer, Rep. Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Islamophobes en masse – white guys like David Burgert don’t want to kill people, only Muslims do.

King, as it stands, seems willing to also disregard the vicious attacks by white nativists on immigrants in his own home district, as well: here & here. Are these acts not forms of terror, Representative King?

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