In a post titled “Now I Worry,” Michael Morse notes the unsettling nature of creeping terrorism:
Only a few maniacs started the Nazi Party. The Russian Revolution that made it possible for Stalin to rise to power began with a book by Karl Marx. Pol Pot and his followers were the vast minority in Cambodia but managed to stack millions of peace loving dead people on top of one another.
I don’t want to die at the hands of a movement begun by lunatics. I don’t want to be beheaded by the terrorist who was captured by the FBI a few weeks ago, as he planned with two others to behead a lady who spoke her mind. I still can’t believe he lived a half mile from my house, and plotted with his terrorist friends from Boston at the same beach where I go to find peace and serenity.
Michael’s sentiment brings to mind my feeling during the run of the Washington, D.C., sniper. Thirteen years ago, a series of sniper murders near the nation’s capital had everybody on edge. I remember putting gas in my car on a cold New England day and thinking how surreal it was that people some distance down the coast were exposed to execution for doing the same thing.
The focus of the media and authorities, back then, was “domestic terrorism,” with an emphasis on “militia and white supremacist groups.” The killers turned out, actually, to be black, and the leader of the duo was a man who’d converted to Islam and changed his last name to Muhammad.
Michael refers specifically to a Rhode Island man who apparently met with two others who planned to cut off the head of Pamela Geller, who had been in the news when two other men attempted to shoot up a “Draw Muhammad” event in Garland, Texas.
The latest shooting, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was performed by a younger man whose first name was Muhammad. And yet, much of the coverage refuses to connect any dots, and it must be deliberate:
Then a young man in a rented convertible re-aimed his rifle and unleashed a frenzy of bullets. These were the opening shots in a singlehanded rampage against the military that seized this city for hours and reignited American fears about radicalization and homegrown terror. The shooter’s motive remains a mystery.
That article calls it “homegrown terror.” The official term preferred by the Obama administration and the partisan news media appears to be “domestic terrorism,” which (as I explained the other day) had a different meaning until a week ago. Rhode Island’s dangerous ultra-partisan of a U.S. senator, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse reaches back to 1995 in order to compare the Chattanooga shooter to the Oklahoma City bombing. The Washington sniper must have slipped from his mind, as apparently has the 2009 Fort Hood shooter.
Radical Islam is not the only evil in the world, obviously, and it is only a subset of the much-broader faith of Muslims. Still, the first necessary step of combating evil is to call it by its name.
I wonder how much of America’s growing terror has to do with the knowledge that people in power refuse to take that simple step — ostensibly because they fear our greater evil if we’re permitted to speak the truth, but more likely because the power of people like Sheldon Whitehouse is contingent upon the lie that his political opponents are the gravest evil in town.
We’re unsettled most, I think, not because the world brings risks, but because the evidence of powerful people in the media and in government will not allow us to address one growing risk frankly and with an eye toward resolving it.