A clear pattern has emerged to mass killings in America — white men, who publish anti-immigrant manifestos on the internet, decide to murder on behalf of their movement.
Let’s just be clear about this: if any of them had killed on behalf of Allah or Sharia, these acts would be called domestic terrorism, we’d be calling it a crisis, and the internet message board 8Chan where several of them posted their manifestos would be under siege or even shut down as a haven for terrorist recruiters.
But since they were white guys with guns attacking brown-skinned people, we’re talking instead about whether we have an issue with mental illness and suggesting that maybe violent video games are to blame.
Video games.
These vicious attacks can be directly connected to the angry screeds and recruiting tactics of the “alt-right”; there is an ongoing body count directly connected with this decentralized movement, and indeed FBI director Christopher Wray has testified to Congress that most of the domestic terrorism cases previously investigated in the last year involve white supremacy. And that white supremacy poses a significant and “pervasive” threat to the United States.
But it is antifa — a decentralized movement dedicated to fighting fascism and which has no deaths associated with its activities — that Republican congressmen want to designate a terrorist organization.
Get it? When a decentralized movement directly leads to fatal attacks on people of color, maybe video games are a problem. But when a decentralized movement organizes to protect vulnerable populations against attacks and has no record of fatalities, maybe they’re terrorists.
Enough.
Anyone who wants to label antifa terrorists or go at the makers of violent video games needs to explain why they’re trying to take away the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly of the people who don’t commit terrorism, while protecting the rights of those who do.
White supremacist attacks are domestic terrorism. Protesting such attacks are not. Standing in front of synagogues to protect those worshipping inside — as antifa did in Charlottesville, Virginia — is not terrorism. It is what the police should be doing.
Antifa goes too far sometimes, but it does not have a body count — and at heart, it is a group of people banding together to protect their neighbors from attack. The “alt-right” is why such protection is necessary in the first place. The two are not comparable.
I know perfectly well that most Republicans do not condone these acts of white terrorism. But for decades now, they have been demanding that Americans of Muslim descent stand up and denounce acts of terrorism committed — by complete strangers — on behalf of some perverted, twisted version of Islam.
Now, Republicans can’t bring themselves to say that maybe Nazis are bad and that violent Nazis need to be stopped.
White terrorists are posting manifestos on the same internet sites, encouraging one another. Those sites are spreading those manifestos and more people die. We’ve investigated mosques for far, far less.
Now, to be clear, I don’t actually believe that “white supremacy” is any more a serious ideology than “radical Islam.” Both, I think, are mostly fig leaves for violent people who are looking for any excuse to do harm to others. Evidence strongly suggests that if you look at a man’s history of harassment of women or domestic abuse, you will get a far better prediction of whether he is likely to commit violence than if you look at his politics or religion.
But even so, I don’t see a way around this. White Americans who do not denounce the violent terrorism of white supremacists, who don’t unequivocally demand of their leaders that the FBI target violent terrorists networks of white supremacists, are increasingly culpable. Right now, the Republican Senate is aiding and abetting domestic terrorism by refusing to call it what it is.
Until such time as law enforcement actually does its job, and investigates and prosecutes the network of white terrorists, antifa will hold the moral high ground. In a time of routine lethal attacks by white terrorists, it becomes impossible to call antifa the extremists. I mean, they’re the ones defending their fellow citizens and neighbors.