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Monday, February 18, 2019

“I know this sounds racist, but …”

So goes the subject line on last week’s email from Bill, a reader. It seems Bill has an idea. Given that “all of the radical terrorists have been Muslims,” he wants the government to mount a program to surveil every follower of Islam who immigrates to these shores. We are, claims reader Bill, “faced with a population who swears an oath to God to kill Americans — not Canadians, not Mexicans, but Americans.” It is, he says, “time we protect ourselves.”


For our purposes today, we will ignore the fact that Islam is not a race, so animus toward Muslims is not, strictly speaking, “racist.” Bill’s point is clear enough. And his anger is understandable, coming as it does after the Boston Marathon bombing and the savage butchering of a British soldier by Islamic extremists. Predictably, the UK has suffered a rash of right-wing demonstrations and attacks on mosques ever since Lee Rigby’s death. One suspects that there’d be no shortage of sympathy for Bill’s suggestion — and for measures even more draconian — both there and here.

But I find myself thinking about white boys.

Consider: This nation’s recent history is stained by repeated acts of school violence. From Newtown, CT, to West Paducah, KY, to Santee, CA ,to Eugene, OR, to Conyers, GA, to Pearl, MS, to Jonesboro, AR, to DeKalb, IL, to Littleton, CO, we have seen scores of people killed and injured. The violence has been random, large scale and indiscriminate, identical to terrorism except that it has no political motive. And the profile of the assailants is virtually always the same: white boys and young men from suburban, small-town or rural communities.

Small wonder Chris Rock got such a huge laugh when he joked about diving off the elevator when two high-school-age white kids got on. “I am scared of young white boys,” cracked Rock in 1999.

If, then, the reasoning is that we are entitled to demand extra scrutiny of people who meet a profile associated with random violence, can we expect arguments for the mass surveillance of young white boys anytime soon? Of course not. You won’t even see random school shootings framed in racial dimensions by the media, even though those dimensions are glaringly obvious.

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17 responses to “Extremism Has No Race”

  1. Catskinner says:

    What would help, in both the US and the UK, would be to stop allowing Muslims to enter the country.

    • TZToronto says:

      What if it’s a “westernized” Muslim with a lot of money who wants to employ a thousand Americans? Did you actually read the article?

      • Germansmith says:

        Then Welcome to America !!!
        Westernized Muslims do not have their women wearing hijab (which is not even required by the Qur’an)
        Maybe we should have similar laws to France regarding head coverings.
        I have many Muslims clients that are good law abiding citizens. Extremism, in any religion is never conductive to a good civil society.

      • Catskinner says:

        It’s time to face reality. People who demonstrate symptoms of being addicted to some ancient superstition or another will probably not make a good addition to the population.

        • Allan Richardson says:

          Including the ancient superstition that co-opted the teachings of Jesus and turned it into the various Christian churches?

          • Catskinner says:

            Absolutely, including anything that might have been conjured up by Joseph Smith.

          • Sand_Cat says:

            I do not approve of religious discrimination, but if we’re going to do it, let’s get all the perpetrators. ALL “faiths” have blood on their hands, some more than others.

  2. Tom_D44 says:

    The problem is that if you poll the western world you won’t find that 60% of our society would actually sympathize with those ramdom acts of “white boy” terror. In fact we call them out and condemn them openly and often. But if you go into the muslim world you will find those kinds of statistics showing sympathy for the martyrs and their causes rather than condemning them. If the muslim community was as outraged by these acts of terror as we were they would help to flush these people out of their system and their mosques. But they don’t. Why don’t they expose the radical clerics? Or the financiers of these attacks? Why don’t they stop going to these radical mosques and find other clerics to support? Hiding your head in the sand is very dangerous with these people as you can see.

    • Allan Richardson says:

      I suspect that if some OTHER nation, say China, were the dominant superpower, and a few white Americans who lived in China had done THERE what the various shooters did HERE, and China then insulted our whole nation by calling them “Christian extremists”, a good 60% of Americans would come to their defense and a few more would consider joining them.

      The Muslim communities in democratically governed Western nations ARE, for the most part, outraged, but in countries governed by dictators, the leaders allow free expression of OUTWARDLY directed rage in order to defuse the rage deservedly directed to THEM (not that OUR leaders would do anything like that!), and clerics would be imprisoned by their government or executed by the terrorists in those countries if they spoke out loud against extremists.

      • Tom_D44 says:

        I don’t like phrases like “for the most part” Allan. And on the muslim side you are not talking about “various shooters”. You are talking about people who hijacked airliners and blew up buildings with them killing innocent civilians – not soldiers in a war zone. Are you saying that there is any reason at all where that could be justified? ANY? Because there are many, many people in the middle east, and some even in the west, who do believe that this killing is justified and they are not afraid to say so – even though they themselves would likely never carry out an act of terror.
        The Boston Bombers were american muslims who became radicalized in an American mosque. They did not personally live through horrible acts of death in the middle east as the result of our foreign policy. They lived good lives in this country from the time they were young children. They were living in this country on assylum which means they would likely have been killed or jailed in their own country if they hadn’t fled here. What experiences, here in the United States, could have possibly molded their minds into radical terrorists who would be willing to place a bomb right next to a small child? Nothing. Their minds were poisoned by propaganda received from a radical cleric and his minions located in a local Boston mosque. And with a leader like that it is very likely that anti-american hate speech happened often if you were around that mosque. So why did no one say anything? Because no one knew? Hardly possible. These muslims are living in a free country, with a good police force and could very easily come forward without fearing that the government or some thugs would come down and kill them for speaking out. In fact if they did speak up they would likely be supported by millions of other Americans – Christians, Jews, athiests and whoever. Because those are our values. So where are these muslim whistleblowers? Or are they just silent sympathizers?

        • Sand_Cat says:

          Most “civilized” countries have made it clear that they will willingly and deliberately slaughter non-combatants in countries which oppose their interests, even when those interests are relatively petty, especially if they involve money. Can you think of ANY reason why hundreds of thousands had to die in Latin America (maybe millions), one of the worst victims being guilty of the horrible sin of nationalizing a US-based company (how much has that company contributed to the US in thanks?) and paying as compensation what the company claimed its facilities were worth for tax purposes. And the overwhelming majority of those murdered, tortured, and imprisoned had nothing to do with the act; many weren’t even born when this took place. And our friends in Iran had a Democratically-elected government overthrown by the US and Britain to boost BP’s profits (again, look how they repaid us). There’s Indonesia, Vietnam, Iraq, Cambodia, Chile, Argentina, Uraguay, Nicauragua, Cuba, Guatemala (mentioned above for nationalizing Dole or United Fruit, I don’t recall which) and countless others, probably including Venezuela, whose “thug” leader sold heating oil to fixed-income Americans at a reduced price after “American” oil companies laughed in the faces of the Congressmen who requested the favor at a time of record profits. And this doesn’t even include the long history of US abuse of Latin America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And let’s not dwell too much on the genocide of the native population by the “colonists” and their noble citizen-successors, or the atomic bombs on defenseless cities that were so critical to the Japanese war effort that neither had been touched by the massive bombing raids which preceded these attacks which were, like them, geared to maximize non-combatant casualties.

          To borrow your phrasing, are you saying that there is any reason at all where that could be justified? ANY?

          Maybe, to paraphrase another (GOP) commentator on this site, they ALREADY “know what [or who] they’re dealing with,” and this is the reason why so many of them seem to cheer at American deaths and humiliations.

  3. Germansmith says:

    Having red Mr. Pitts editorials in the Miami Herald plenty of times, I understand where his hang-ups about black issues and racial profiles are all about…Nevertheless
    He is talking about 2 totally different issues. Muslims, of whatever race seem to have a great deal of problems with our support of Israel, our presence in the Middle East and our way of living. This disagreement is showing by bombings, attacks on our soldiers and many other attacks to our society and civilians.
    It seems to me that we should keep an eye on all places where Muslims start sharing fundamentalist ideas and start talking about attacks to our society and take appropriate actions when necessary…if this is profiling, them be it.
    Attacks from Caucasians teenagers are coming from maladjustment to society and poor family dynamics. These mal-adjusted teenagers usually stick out like a sore thumb, but profiling would work here as well.
    Growing in Miami in the 1970-80, Spanish speaker, well dressed, driving a flashy sports car I fitted the profile of a drug dealer. As so, I was stopped by the police all the time (one time as they were looking for a cop killer). The police was not nice, never friendly, respectful or polite (maybe is part of their training) but I knew why they were doing it and than my survival was in my hands, so I behaved calmly and avoided getting arrested or shot.
    If profiling avoids another 9/11, or Boston bombing the use it.

  4. ram1020 says:

    In this case, we need to give up Political Correctness if we are going to be effective.

    • Sand_Cat says:

      You’re right. We need to stop pretending that somehow we’re superior to them and admit this is just a plain old-fashioned power struggle between two absolutely ruthless groups for whom no crime is too great if it gets them what they want.

      • ram1020 says:

        You are exactly right. Both sides feel that they are morally superior, and feel that justifies any means of forcing their respective social agendas down the others’ throat.
        We need to get out of their countries, or at least let them determine how they structure their societies, and they are welcome to leave ours if they don’t like it.

  5. howa4x says:

    There is a small percentage of Muslims that turn to terror here. if you counted up all the attacks you would find the number involved was < 50 people over the years since 9/11. It is just that the attacks are dramatic that they capture or attention and with saturation media they are pounded into our heads with repetition. If you look over the same period at mass shootings, more died except for the twin towers but that was an intelligence failure since Info was not shared between the CIA and the FBI. We live in one of the most violent countries that is outside a war zone. Aside from the 30,000 firearm deaths there is untold injured. Profiling won't work. We don't have the resources.

  6. charleo1 says:

    Personally, I welcomed The President’s message last week, that we were going
    to bring our incorrectly named, “War,” on terror, to a close. Wars, as Obama
    pointed out, have a beginning, a prosecution, and an end. Wars are aganist a
    Country. Terrorism is a tactic. It is impossible to rid the world of the battlefield, flanking maneuver. Which, like terrorism, has been used as long as two armies of
    men have been engaging in the noble art of killing each other. So, a commander may anticipate a flanking action, and guard aganist it. But he will never eliminate
    it’s use. The second point of President Obama’s speech then discussed, and sometimes defended some of the more controversial methods he, and the various
    security agencies of the Federal Government has adopted, to defend America
    aganist the tactic of terrorism. Many Americans are concerned, and rightly so,
    about some of those methods now being used to uncover, identify, infiltrate,
    and thwart the attacks, before they can be carried out. But here, I think we Americans should be mindful, that we don’t over politicize the entire affair.
    And thereby, incentivize those that would do us harm, by magnifying any
    successful strike, by immediately turning on ourselves. But, not with the goal
    of improving our defenses, or preventing future attacks of a like kind. But,
    for domestic political advantage. Which is not smart. Because, we all
    understood, going in, that nothing we could do, no amount of preparation,
    no matter how diligently applied, would provide us 100% protection. And by
    raising the already high stakes, to impossible levels, with partisan politics.
    Does not serve to make the Country safer. And will tend to make those possibly unConstitutional measures, even more likely.

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