Photo courtesy of etonline.com
Last week, Al-Jazeera published an article about white supremacist groups and their threat to American national security. Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has been focusing its attention on Muslims in its anti-terrorism campaigns. Muslim communities, especially in urban centres, are under constant surveillance and every person—man, woman and child—is a suspect. In their fanatical effort to harass people marked by differences, it seems US military, police and law makers have ignored those who are the biggest terrorism organizations in the US: white supremacist groups.
Within two weeks, there were two national tragedies in the United States. The first was in Aurora, Colorado. At a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman open fired on the crowd using a semi automatic rifle, a shotgun, and a hand gun as his weapons of choice. After the dust settled, twelve people were dead and 58 were wounded. Most of the victims were white; the media jumped on the story and it was the top story on the news for weeks. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, is awaiting trial.
On August 5th, another mass shooting took place in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. A gunman broke into the kitchen of a Sikh temple and began shooting. Women were preparing the traditional Indian meal for after the service; children were about to attend their morning classes. 7 people, including the perpetrator, were dead and 4 injured. The attacker, former soldier Wade Michael Page, had strong ties to white supremacist groups. Although President Obama condemned the killings, this incident received a lot less attention than the massacre in Aurora.
The American reaction to both of these tragedies reveals the underlying bias against minorities in the United States. Because of race, the media is hesitant to label these extremist groups as what they are: terrorists. A terrorist is a person who terrorizes or frightens others with force. If either of these men had been Muslim, Black, Brown, Hispanic, Gay, Sikh, or Hindu, the narrative and framing of these stories would have been very different.
White supremacy isn’t a new phenomenon in the United States. In fact, it has existed within its borders since the 18th century, making it truly homegrown. The Ku Klux Klan have terrorized African-Americans and other minorities in the US since the Civil War. These extremist groups are a threat to the modern multicultural United States. Perhaps the FBI and CIA should focus more on these terrorists that look more like the average American than the imagined ‘enemy’.
Kait Bolongaro writes about culture, feminism, and pushing boundaries. She is a Masters student studying Journalism and Media Across Cultures in Denmark. She is a freelance journalist and photographer who is addicted to traveling and developing new stories. To follow her on her journeys, check out her website or follow her on twitter.