Consider the cases of Joseph Stack and Amy Bishop, who crashed a plane into an office building while 200 people were inside, and who shot up a bunch of colleagues at a faculty meaning, respectively.
Because I’m an arabist and I’m dead tired of seeing Islam being tied to terrorism, I’m going to point out that both of these characters have inherently Christian names. Yet there are no pundits proclaiming, “As soon as I heard the name ‘Joseph,’ I knew it was Christian violence,” or “What else would you expect from someone named ‘Bishop‘?” The news doesn’t bother to report on their church attendance, their church background or lack of it, or how many times a day they might have uttered the damning phrase, “Jesus Christ!” which we all know translates to “I’m going to kill you,” just like “Allahu akbar” does.
Amy Bishop shot her brother dead with a shotgun, brandished the shotgun at a stranger, and still managed to get a pretigious job and the respect of society and her peers. Joe Stack is actually being praised by various personalities. Yes, after the fact! A case in point is this archetypal white man over at Renew America (I will not be linking to it), as discussed on World-O-Crap:
This week, Chuck [Baldwin] examines the case of an Austin, Texas man who deliberately crashed a private plane into an office building, and points out that the real tragedy is the loss of a potential Chuck Baldwin voter.
These are Chuck Baldwin’s words:
In what was obviously a reference to what he was about to do, he wrote, “Nothing changes unless there is a body count.” … Stack wrapped up his manifesto by saying, “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”
My heart goes out to Joe Stack! … We all share Joe Stack’s pain!
Chuck Baldwin, of course, is just a moron, but our newly-elected senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, who drives a truck, also expressed sympathy for Joe Stack’s position. Just as if he hadn’t committed an act of terrorism on US soil. From the Washington Monthly:
And while I have no real interest in the “debate” over the killer’s bizarre ideology, I couldn’t help but notice that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) seems to think he can relate to the deranged suicide bomber at some level.
Appearing on Fox News soon after Stack flew an airplane into a building, Brown told the national television audience that he “feels for the families” affected by the attack. In the next breath, however, the senator added:
“I don’t know if it’s related but I can just sense not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency. They want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things affecting their daily lives. So I am not sure if there is a connection, I certainly hope not, but we need to do things better.”
Brown added that an incident like the one in Austin is “extreme,” but added, “No one likes paying taxes obviously.”
So, let me get this straight. An anti-government nut flies an airplane into a building and Scott Brown thinks the incident reminds him of … his own campaign? Indeed, Brown almost seems to be rationalizing the actions of a domestic terrorist, as if Stack’s murders can be understood if we just appreciate how “frustrated” people are.
As for the ubiquitous unnamed officials, they rushed to assure the world that a man intentionally flying a plane into an occupied office building during the workday was something other than terrorism. After all, it’s not like he was brown.
The building set on fire by Stack’s suicide flight was still burning Thursday afternoon when officials confidently stood before reporters and said the crash wasn’t an act of terrorism, but others look at Stack’s actions and fail to understand how he differs from foreign perpetrators of political violence who are routinely labeled “terrorists.”
The not-a-terror-attack aftermath
But a Muslim guy doing the same thing? Hoo boy. And even more so if he had uttered a prayer or spoken to a preacher recently.
The Christian Science Monitor believes it has neatly explained away why Joseph Stack’s attack is not terrorism but Nidal Hasan’s attack is:
But the pattern of the attack – including that Mr. Stack apparently lit his house on fire beforehand – fits less into the mold of a terror conspiracy and more neatly into a profile of the solo-flying rebel with a personal beef, the details of which are fueled by partisan rhetoric and current events.
A personal beef fueled by partisan rhetoric and current events is totally different when a white Christian does it, duh.
The New York Daily News has an article enumerating some sites and public figures hailing Joseph Stack as a hero.
THE FIRES in Austin were still burning yesterday when the Internet lit up with government haters cheering suicide pilot Joe Stack and calling him a hero.
“Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the Constitution,” wrote Emily Walters of Louisville, Ky.
Walters was one of at least two dozen people who founded Facebook fan groups to hail the homicidal pilot.
Most had only a tiny handful of members, but hers attracted more than 200 before Facebook removed it.
“Joe Stack, you are a true American Hero and we need more of you to make a stand,” tweeted Greg Lenihan, an engineer in San Diego.
One founder of a Stack fan club on Facebook, Rick Wagner, is a pilot in Minnesota. His “about me” quote, which one hopes is a joke, reads:
“When I go I want to be able to look back and tell all the passengers to quit screaming.”
This Fox News story clears up the identity of the naysaying government officials a little:
The Department of Homeland Security said it did not believe the crash was an act of terrorism.
If the DHS can’t recognize terrorism any better than that, why the hell are we wasting money on them? Hey, DHS, read your own publication:
Second, U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 113B, section 2331(5) provides a definition of domestic terrorism:
[T]he term “domestic terrorism” means activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
Is there anything there saying if a guy with a name like Joseph Stack does it, it isn’t terrorism? Am I missing the “His name must include Muhammad” annex?
Back to Amy Bishop. In 1986 this woman got away with shooting her brother dead with a shotgun! She went on to use the same shotgun rob a car dealership. And look at how the police dealt with this white woman:
Polio, the Braintree police chief at the time, said yesterday that he knew Bishop had to be apprehended at gunpoint, but he said he did not know she had pointed the shotgun at Pettigrew. Polio said he allowed officers to release Bishop on the day of the shooting because the lead investigator, Captain Theodore Buker, told him she was too emotional to interview.
Then in 1993 she apparently got away with an attempt to bomb a rival:
[Huntsville, Alabama, police chief Henry] Reyes confirmed he is working with the FBI to learn more about why Bishop was a suspect in the attempted bombing of Dr. Paul Rosenberg, who received a double-pipe bomb in the mail on Dec. 19, 1993. He ran from his Newton home with his wife, escaping without injury. The bomb never exploded.
“She was quite cavalier about it,” [former colleague Sylvia] Fluckiger said of Bishop’s description of her interview with police. She said Bishop “grinned” as she described being asked by cops whether she’d ever taken stamps off an envelope and fastened them onto something else. “I cannot tell you what the grin meant,” Fluckiger said.
Here’s an abc news report that lightly addresses workplace rampages such as these.
Psychotics like Seung-Hui Cho, the student who who killed 31 at Virginia Tech in 2007, are particularly dangerous.
Killers like Cho view others as inconsequential and often humiliation can set off a psychotic depression that could make a person violent or suicidal, said Galynker.
Those with personality disorders, such as Eric Harris, who went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in 1999, are particularly dangerous.
Not mentioned is Major Nidal Hasan, presumably because too many people would go apoplectic at the idea that he was not an Islamic terrorist carrying out orders directly from al-Qaeda.
UPDATE: SulaymanF over at Daily Kos wrote a diary along these same lines here:
With apologies to Professor Cole for plaigarizing his idea, here is what else you will not see in the media:
Thomas Friedman will not write an op-ed for the New York Times about what is wrong with white southern Christian males that they keep producing these terrorists. He will also not ask why Sarah Palin and Pat Robertson are not denouncing Andrew Stack every day at the top of their lungs.
Daniel Pipes will not write a column for the New York Post suggesting that white southern Christians be put in internment camps until it can be determined why they keep producing terrorists and antisemites.
Retired Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney will not go on FOX News and claim that Christian males need to be “strip searched” before boarding airplanes.
The Transportation Security Administration will not announce new, “enhanced screening” tactics at U.S. airports, with a renewed focus on travelers from Southern Red states.
Steve Doocy of morning FOX & Friends will not call for racial profiling of Christians, because “all of the people who try to blow airliners out of the sky pretty much look alike”
And so on.
another UPDATE: An enjoyable entry over at Jesus’s General (which sports some terrible Arabic in their banner). From there:
Services for the late Opinion are pending as of this writing, however when they do take place you can be assured they will be white: very, very white. And if you have a small, white child who wants to be a terrorist when he or she grows up, break it gently to the tender soul that such a lofty dream is impossible, explaining patiently that such a child cannot by definition be a terrorist–the best said child might hope for would be to grow up and become a traitor to the nation, and if lucky, a mass murderer to boot.
one more UPDATE: The son of the IRS employee killed by domestic terrorist Joseph Stack says
“There was just too much going on about what the guy did and what he believed in, and enough’s enough,” he said. “They don’t need to talk about him. Talk about my dad. You know, some people are trying to make this guy out to be a hero, a patriot. My dad served two terms in Vietnam. This guy never served at all. My dad wasn’t responsible for his tax problems.”
UPDATE: Amy Bishop has now been brought up on charges in the shooting death of her brother. Read about it here. (June of 2010)