This White Shooter Was A Terrorist

The gunman who killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church will probably face prosecution for a hate crime.

The shooter was definitely fueled by hate when he murdered nine people last night.

But so was Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev - so why is Dylann Storm Roof being charged with a hate crime instead of facing the same charges of “homegrown terrorism” that Dzhokar Tsarnaev faced?

After the Boston marathon bombing - nearly everyone sought to establish a connection between the Tsarnaev brothers and radical Islamist groups. The Tsarnaev’s are Muslim - and so is Al Qaeda.

But Dylann Roof is white - and so is the Aryan Nation.

So it should only make sense that a young man - who wore a jacket with apartheid-era Rhodesian and South African flag patches in his Facebook profile picture - may have been radicalized by white supremacist ideology.

And since white supremacist groups like the Aryan Nation or the National Alliance are considered domestic terrorist groups by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - it would make sense to look at this as a case of homegrown terrorism.

But instead, the media - and even President Obama - are presenting this as an instance where a "mentally ill person" got access to a gun and committed a hate crime.

They said the same things about James Holmes in Aurora Colorado in 2012 - and Norwegian Christian extremist Anders Breivik in 2011.

But if those names were “Mohammed” or “Omar” - the media would immediately look for the connection between the shooters and ISIS, or Al Qaeda - and they would fervently explain that this is probably a case of terrorism.

The problem isn’t that we call it “terrorism” when the suspects look Arabic and have Muslim sounding names. It’s that we DON’T call it “terrorism” when the names of the suspects sound and look White.

Even the location of this attack screams “terrorist.”

If this were a protestant church in Northern Ireland and the shooter were from Southern Ireland - we would call that an act of terrorism whether they were directly connected to the IRA or not.

The Emanuel A.M.E. church is not just a random church with a black congregation in the South - it’s the site of one our country’s earliest acts of white supremacist terrorism. Emanuel A.M.E was co-founded by Denmark Vesey in 1816. Vesey was a freed slave who was implicated in a slave revolt plot and executed six years after founding Emanuel A.M.E.

White supremacists burned the original church to the ground after Vesey’s execution - and today the church stands as a physical reminder of the long history of domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists against black Americans.

And one of the victims of today’s attack was Clementa Pinckney - the church’s pastor, and a state senator.

The shooter also left one victim alive - so that she could report to others about what he had done and share his statement that he was killing Black people because, he is reported to have said, they were "raping our women, and taking over our country..."

All of this adds up to a terror attack - he targeted a church with historical and cultural significance - he murdered an elected member of state government - and he meant to send a message designed to terrorize black Americans.

He may be a “lone wolf” terrorist like the shooters in Garland Texas or the man who attacked police with a knife earlier this month in Boston. But just as we looked at how those terrorists were radicalized by ISIS and other elements of Islamic extremism - we need to look at how Dylann Storm Roof may have been radicalized by white supremacist groups and radical Apartheid states.

Dylann Roof was motivated by hate - there is no doubt about that. And President Obama is right - this once again brings up the question of gun access in America. But there is a broader issue - that the American media, and even the American government - hesitates to declare that white Christians who commit acts of terrorism are “terrorists.”

President Obama referenced the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963. But even though a number of sources refer to the Birmingham bombing as “an act of white supremacist terrorism” - the FBI omits the attack on its webpage of “Major Terrorism Cases.”

The list does however include the 1920 Wall Street bombing - and the Weather Underground bombing of the State department in 1975. But according to that webpage - not a single major act of terrorism occurred in the 1960s.

Never mind the fact that 35 black homes and churches were firebombed in Birmingham in 1963 - none of those were deemed terrorist acts. Those were “hate crimes.”

And that’s the point - it’s not that these aren’t “hate crimes” - it’s that they’re ALSO “acts of terrorism.”

The reality is that White people have been inflicting terror on Black people in this country since Europeans first brought slaves to this continent more than 400 years ago. And it’s time we stop letting homegrown terrorists off the hook just because they’re white – or they’re Christian – or because they didn’t kill any white people in their attack.

Terrorists can be fueled by hate - terrorists can be mentally ill - terrorists shouldn’t be able to get guns. Calling this shooter a terrorist doesn’t diminish any of those facts.

But by NOT calling this an act of terrorism - we White people once again fail to realize or remember that Whites have been committing acts of terrorism against Blacks for four centuries - and continue to do so to this day.

Somebody needs to wake up our media and our politicians.

Popular blog posts

No blog posts. You can add one!

ADHD: Hunter in a Farmer's World

Thom Hartmann has written a dozen books covering ADD / ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

Join Thom for his new twice-weekly email newsletters on ADHD, whether it affects you or a member of your family.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.