Opinion: Let’s call terrorism what it is

The mistake to label white terrorists as ‘lone wolves’ is common throughout media coverage 

By Jonathan Van Niel

The Charleston Church shooting in South Carolina resulted in the deaths of nine African-Americans. Dylann Roof, the shooter responsible for the 2015 attack, was a member of white nationalist and neo-Nazi web forums.

Wade Michael Page fatally shot six Sikhs and wounded four others in the Wisconsin temple massacre. Page, an Army veteran, formed a white supremacist rock band and was a prominent figure in various North Carolina-based skinhead groups prior to the 2012 shooting.

Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. murdered three people at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center in 2014. Items discovered at Miller’s home include—but are not limited to—a red shirt with a swastika symbol and a copy of “Mein Kampf.”

During the coverage of these attacks, media outlets and political commentators referred to these gunmen as “lone wolves.” But how can their actions be considered isolated when they each share the intricately woven ideology of white supremacist, white nationalist and neo-Nazi hate groups?

Terrorism is defined as the use of violence to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim.

When political movements like the so-called “alt-right,” for example, spew racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their supporters conduct violent acts that reflect that ideology, then you have yourself terrorism incarnate.

So allow me to set the record straight: White extremists are terrorists, and our media and government must refer to them as such.

It seems, however, that our current administration does not share those sentiments.

According to Reuters, the Trump administration plans on changing the focus of the Countering Violent Extremism program to solely address radical Islamic terrorism.

“Oh my goodness,” a white supremacist wrote on the neo- Nazi website Stormfront. “This is for real. My government no longer targets me as the enemy.”

Sadly, our government’s refusal to publicly refer to white extremism as terrorism has only encouraged violence.

In this year alone, an African- American Muslim teenager was found hanged in a forest near Seattle; four mosques have been targeted by arsonists; two Indian-American men mistaken for Middle Easterners were shot, resulting in one death; and an Arab restaurant employee was assaulted with a pipe after being told to “go back to (his) country.”

There is a potent climate of hate within our country, and it has unfortunately spread to neighbors abroad.

Earlier this year, for example, a white extremist gunned down six Muslims at the Quebec City mosque.

In an interview with CNN, Republican Congressman Sean Duffy stated that attacks like this are rarities.

“You give me one example of what’s happened, I think that was in Canada, I’m going to condemn them all. But you don’t have a group like ISIS or al-Qaida that is inspiring people around the world to take up arms and kill innocents. That was a one-off,” Duffy said.

There are no white extremist groups that encourage their followers to commit violent acts against innocents? What exactly should we classify the Aryan Brotherhood or the Ku Klux Klan as then?