White terrorists do exist, so why are we ignoring them?

NEWSFLASH: Terrorists can be white, shock.

The label usually reserved exclusively for Muslims is not defined by race or colour as the media seems to understand.

A terrorist is a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. Not everyone wearing a hijad – though stereo-typically this is what appears when you type the term into your search engine.

Terrorists can believe in any faith and be any ethnicity.

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This stereotypical image isn’t only prominent on our screens, last year police had to issue an apology after a simulated attack came under scrutiny when the ‘fake suicide bomber’ shouted Allahu Akbar‘.

Race stereotyping and Islamophobia have come under scrunity, rightly so, after Sunday’s attack. Authorities have been quick to label Stephen Craig Paddock, Sunday’s Las Vegas shooter, a ‘lone-wolf’ rather than a terrorist.

Paddock opened fire on Sunday killing 58 people and wounding almost 500 others, before turning the gun on himself. Though his motive has not yet been formally revealed many people took to social media to say that if the shooter had been Muslim then people wouldn’t wait to use the label.

Sociologist Haris Ali, 21, commented that the media’s reluctance to label white extremists as terrorists is a huge surface problem that goes deeper than just a term.

“The way in which stereotypes and the labelling of people has worked in the media isn’t nothing new, it’s been around for centuries. Once a folk devil has been created, whether that be someone of s particular race or ethnicity or someone of a particular religion journalists will sensationalise the story to get more hits that’s how it works.

“With the creation of the folk devil comes the ‘othering’ of that group of people, leaving another set of people feeling under threat.”

Ali blames this for the reason as to why the media seemingly refuse to brand white attackers as terrorists.

“This is why when for example a non-Muslim is to carry out an attack such as Stephen Paddock there will be a reluctance the brand the shooter as a terrorist as opposed to if he was Muslim.

“Objectively speaking though, though Stephen Paddock is a terrorist, he is also a lone wolf like many other non-Muslim terrorists we have seen. I’m sure that if we were to quantify the attacks we see and separate them into who has committed an act whilst being connected to/linked in to a terrorist group, most of these people will be Muslim hence why there’s hardly any usage of the ‘lone wolf’ tag to them.”

However, Ali wants the focus to be on those punishing the attackers rather than the media reporting the crimes.

“Though for me, rather than focus on the media, whose main aim is to make as much money as possible, the focus should be on the courts to trial all people who commit any acts of terrorism as terrorists.”

Paddock’s actions do fit the statutory definition of terrorism in Nevada, where the events happened. The state’s law defines terrorism as: “any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population”.

While Stephen Craig Paddock‘s motive has not yet been released it’s fair to comment that had the crime been committed by a white person the media would arguably not be so reluctant to label the massacre as terrorism.

According to Gun Violence Archive, so far this year 273 mass shootings, averaging at one per day, and 11,671 lives have been taken due to gun violence. Shocking? Scary?

What is scary is that white terrorists normally slip under the radar – why? Because the law grants them a cloak of invisibility – how?

A little known term called ‘domestic terrorism’ defined by the federal code as: “activities that appear indended to affect the conduct of government by mass destruction.” 

Paddock’s act is, by definition, terrorism.  Even, if right now, it fits the ‘domestic terrorism’ label. Clue: the word terrorism still fits by definition.

While federal law does define and recognise domestic terrorism it does not class it as a ‘federal crime’. That’s right, it does not class it.

The Guardian reported: “It’s hard, if not impossible, to understand how committing one of the largest mass shootings in American history is not “intended to affect the conduct of government”.

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Skin colour does not make one person more guilty than another.

Break this down to lay terms and it’s simple: legally a lot of the cases brought forward and spread by the media are put out by the justice system department with a big bang and threat levels put as severe. But, these mostly do not (basically never) revolve around domestic terrorism.

All this points to deeply embedded racially focused stereotyping, if you’re white it’s ‘domestic’ and therefore ‘downplayed’. Domestic terrorism is rarely prosecuted by federal courts.

Acts committed that don’t fit the stereotypical ‘terrorist’ image reinforced by the media go by unreported and therefore unnoticed.

Earlier this year a mosque in Minnesota was bombed – though our feeds were mostly unaffected as it didn’t fit the ‘stereotypical profile’. Yet we all know about Trump’s Muslim ban, reinforcing the racial stereotype once again that we should consider Muslim’s a ‘security threat’.

Mainstream media is repeatedly reinforcing that terrorism is an Islam only crime – it is not. This message goes from our courts and laws to our television screens and social media themes until it reaches our minds and leaves our mouths in conversations. 

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The dictionary doesn’t define terrorism by skin colour and neither should we.

If anything within this article causes offence to anyone feel free to contact me via the comments section below – controversial topics debated on Elephant’s Voice are meant to spark debate not cause offence. Thank you.

14 comments

  1. Jasmin N

    I agreed 100%. I don’t usually take stand in these things but I don’t like how terrorists are categorised of a person of colour as that’s not the case each time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t have put it better myself and am just about to tweet your comment now – thanks so much for joining the debate. Love hearing your opinion, especially when it agrees with mine 😉❤️

      Like

  2. Kayleigh Zara

    I couldn’t agree more! I think people have always had this assumption that terrorism means that you have a certain colour of skin – it’s really racist and so sad. America is a weird one for it as well they never really tend to label white criminals from what I’ve seen – like how they did with Brooke Turner? He wasn’t labelled a rapist only a college boy etc

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re totally right in my opinion, it’s nothing to do with skin colour or class – that is so so important for people to understand and educate themselves on! I hadn’t even thought to link it to Brooke Turner’s white privilege but I will cover that in the future so thank you for commenting and supporting the argument even further, thank you thank you thank you!

      Like

  3. I’m so so glad you addressed this in such a coherent and articulate way. Honestly respect you for addressing it because although it seems straight forward (as, it does to me) there are a minority of people who will argue against it and yes, while they have every right to do so, it takes a level of courage to address this and put them in their rightful place. Thank you. As someone who has been targeted with racial abuse and hatred, as someone who sees the absurdity of the media and govt, it’s nice to see this being addressed.

    Faye x
    https://cultureeighteen.wordpress.com

    Like

    • I really appreciate you taking the time to read this piece and I’m so glad that you both agreed with my stance but also that you feel so strongly!
      I’m sorry you’ve ever had to endure racial hatred but I’m also sad to say that I’m not surprised by your experiences as people can be so stereotypical even in contemporary society.

      Again, thanks for reading and joining the debate!

      Xo

      Like

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