|Echelon Building 1, Austin, Texas|
The incident last week which occurred in Austin, Texas, reveals once again, the hypocrisy and discomfort of the right-wing in this country around the term "terrorist."
At issue is the act of a frustrated software engineer, Joseph Stack, who intentionally flew his private Piper Cherokee PA-28 Dakota airplane into a building in Austin, Texas, where the Internal Revenue Service kept offices. Besides Stack (who was killed in the crash), several people were injured, and Vernon Hunter, a Vietnam Veteran and an IRS employee died in the crash. You can read about the incident here.
Immediately, upon discovery that the perpetrator was a disgruntled, white, conservative male who had posted an anti-government screed on a website, Fox News and other right-wing media outlets fell all over themselves trying to explain how this was a "lone criminal act" and not an act of "domestic terrorism." Of course, their arguments along this vein are absurdly nuanced and meaningless. More of the same from the people who could go on for hours about how Bill Clinton deserved to be impeached, or how the Iraq invasion was justified. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
But rather than deconstruct the various arguments that right-wingers put forth to justify not using the term "terrorism" to describe the incident, I think it is more illuminating to speculate on why they would do so.
Right-wing politicians always find it useful to have enemies to which they can point and say, "Vote for me so I can protect you from them." And so, it is in their interest to keep the "terrorist" designation as narrowly defined as possible. Specifically, they want to apply the term strictly to Muslims from the Middle East or Africa.
Because, if the right-wing base of the Republican party hears the term "terrorist" applied to people like Joseph Stack or James Von Brunn, or Jim D. Adkisson, or Scott Roeder --well, they might get confused about who is the "enemy." You see, although these men were all killers motivated by politics, they were not Muslims. They were white, conservative men angry with the United States government. And, as far as right-wingers are concerned, white, conservatives angry with the government are Good People TM. Even patriotic. Check what Joseph Stack's daughter, Samantha Bell, had to say about her father: "I think too many people lay around and wait for things to happen. But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished."
|Joe Stack: one man's patriot is another man's terrorist|