Monday, July 13, 2020

Domestic terror in the age of Trump

terrorism Nazi white supremacy racism hate xenophobia crime

Patrick Crusius is the quintessential Trump-era terror suspect: a White man, radicalized online, enmeshed in White nationalist ideology, directly inspired by preceding acts of terror and fueled by the angry belief that White men like himself are being “replaced” by brown-skinned immigrants.

“America is full of hypocrites who will blast my actions as the sole result of racism and hatred of other countries,” he wrote in his four-page manifesto, posted on 8chan just before he allegedly murdered 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, last August. “This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe.”

The horrific mass killing was promptly characterized by both journalists and authorities as an act of domestic terrorism: “There’s a statutory definition of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney John Bash of the Western District of Texas said the day after the attack – violent plots or acts intended for a domestic target, with the goal of instilling fear and furthering ideological goals. “This meets it.” The attack, he said, “appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population. … And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice.”

Yet had the attack occurred only a few years earlier, there may have been a debate over whether Crusius should be considered a terror suspect at all. When Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners at an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, then-FBI Director James Comey demurred when asked whether Roof’s act constituted terrorism. And Roof himself never faced terrorism charges. As recently as last July, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that, despite the evidence, “jihadist-inspired violence” remained “the greatest terrorist threat to the homeland.”  (more...)

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