First came President Trump’s ‘Muslim’ travel ban, issued with a statement “We don’t want ‘em [Muslims] here.” Nine months later, a white man unleashed havoc in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 innocent concert-goers and wounding hundreds of others, in what has been declared as the worst mass shooting in American history.
Stephen Paddock, the suspect in the Las Vegas shooting. (Source: Medium)
Since Trump took office, some of the worst attacks, including the one in Las Vegas, have occurred on American soil. These include:
August 2017: A 20-year-old white Nazi sympathizer from Ohio sped his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring at least 19 others.
June 2017: A 66-year-old white man from Illinois shot at Republican Congress members during an early morning baseball practice, severely wounding several people including House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
June 2017: A 52-year-old white man from Kansas shot one Indian man and killed another as he told them to “get out of [his] country.”
March 2017: A 28-year-old white man from Baltimore traveled to New York City with the explicit aim of killing black men. He stabbed 66-year-old Timothy Caughman to death.
May 2017: A 35-year-old white man from Oregon began harassing Muslim teenagers on a train in Portland, telling them “We need Americans here!” Two men interceded; the perpetrator then stabbed and killed them both.
After the attacks of September 11, Muslims have been automatically associated with the radical Islamic terrorists responsible for that horrific tragedy. However, the bigger threat to Americans have been those who “blend right in” – those who are not affiliated with any specific religion or extremist group.
In fact, according to a new study by the think tank New America, more Americans were killed by “native” right-wing extremists between 2001-2015 than by Islamic terrorists.
Despite Trump’s travel ban to protect Americans from such terrorists, the country home to the biggest number of terrorists who have carried out successful attacks inside the US is the US itself.
But such individuals who commit acts of mass murders are, in many instances, not labeled as terrorists – such was the case with the suspect in the Las Vegas shooting, Stephen Paddock.
Why? Terrorism seems to be a label reserved for foreigners, for Muslims. Whites have the privilege of being the “lone wolf” shooters.
When the definition of terrorism cannot even be agreed upon by the FBI, US Department of Defense, Congress and the US Department of Homeland Security, terrorism becomes a term defined by society and the media.
When a white perpetrator carries out an act of terrorism, public discourse is confined to “thoughts and prayers,” while Congress and the public rally for policy change and legislation in the wake of an attack by a Muslim.
A Muslim attacker has never been referred to as an American, a local of the community he attacks. Rather, despite his country of citizenship, he (or she) is considered to be a foreigner or an external threat by the Western press.
It is no surprise that this worldview and perception has lead to anti-Muslim discrimination in America. It has lead to racial profiling, torturing Muslim suspects in Guantanamo Bay and instating a Muslim ban.
Terrorism has no race, no color, no gender and no religion. We must change this narrative that Muslims are the only face of it.