Being Selective About Terrorism, The New American Hypocrisy

FRONTLINE "Dreams of Obama"

Yesterday, President Obama called the attacks in San Bernardino an act of “terrorism.”  Some have called this declaration  bold on the President’s account.  Those who disagree are using it as fuel for their political platforms. I, like some others don’t believe it goes far enough.  I think it ignores the very real problem of calling out the everyday domestic terrorism here in America, and I don’t mean the Muslim variety, although most Americans want to believe that is the boogeyman terrorist.  It isn’t.  I am talking about the terrorist I am afraid of every day, the one whose microaggressions and social media predatory terrorism is far more scary than ISIS. Why? Because it goes unchecked and is often brushed away or excused as “mental illness.”  I have a degree in clinical psychology, there is not that much crazy in the world.

This is the great American hypocrisy, because it’s only terrorism when people of color do it, right!? No. NO! That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!

Let’s be clear, it has been well discussed in the media the last week since this shooting that there have been 355 mass shootings in this country in 2015 *.  We have also seen an alarming rate of black and brown people assaulted, maimed and killed by law enforcement who can offer no excuse other than what become apparent in the public sphere.  Yet and still, our society will only tie the minimally deficient stigma of mental illness to these individuals who cause carnage.  Dylann Roof slaughtered nine people in a Charleston church because they were black and—to be honest—because he could, THAT IS TERRORISM!  In Ohio police officers surrounded Tamir Rice and shot him before he knew what was going on, before he could ask for his mother, did not let his sister—who watched—get to him to help him, nor did they administer aid in time, THAT IS TERRORISM! George Zimmerman stalked, confronted and killed Trayvon Martin who was minding his business, THAT IS TERRORISM! Daniel Holtzclaw abused his position as a police officer to rape more than a dozen black women and on Facebook there is a group asking for justice for him because everyone knows how sexually provocative black women are, THAT IS TERRORISM!

And the list goes on.

None of these terrorists are Muslim. None are recruited by ISIS, but they all have one thing in common: hate and the understanding that their skin privilege grants them an inherent right in this country to exercise and act on that hate without fear of being labeled a terrorist; they know society will just call them crazy and to a terrorist, that ain’t half bad!


Those who do not support gun control legislation want to point to the catastrophic events like San Bernardino and Charleston where more than three victims are killed, however, I agree with most who study these events that whenever a shooting involves multiple casualties, it is a mass shooting and every loss of life should be regarded in this manner under those circumstances. 


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