The three white men planned to unleash a killing spree and to bomb a house of worship — what should we call them?
On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that they had arrested three white men, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, who as part of a militia group called the “Crusaders,” planned to bomb a housing complex and Mosque in Garden City, Kansas. Allen, Wright and Stein stockpiled 2,000 pounds of ammunition and numerous homemade bombs to conduct the attack.
Their intended victims were Somali immigrants. In information gathered by the FBI, Stein, the apparent ringleader, told his followers that, “If you’re a Muslim I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head.” Stein also wanted his confederates to, “Make sure if you start using your bow on them cockroaches, make sure you dip them in pig’s blood before you shoot them.”
The destruction and murder would be total. Allen, Wright and Stein planned to spare no one from their hateful wrath — babies and children would be killed along with adults. Stein told his fellow militia members, “When we go on operations there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a 1-year old, I’m serious. I guarantee if I go on a mission those little fuckers are going bye-bye.”
Their ultimate goal was to “send a wake up call” to (white) Americans about the “threat” posed by Muslims. Stein described this so-called “wake up call” as, “The only fucking way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherfucker.
In this political moment, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s tendrils are everywhere: Stein is an avid supporter of Trump and was organizing a “security detail” to protect his hero and champion when he visited Pennsylvania and Ohio during late October.
The bomb plot by Allen, Wright, and Stein is part of a larger pattern. As reported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations 79 mosques were attacked in 2015. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented how hate crimes against Muslims have increased in 2016.
The murderous actions planned by Allen, Wright, and Stein are the very definition of terrorism: politically motivated violence against a vulnerable civilian population.
However, the headlines from major American news outlets described Allen, Wright and Stein as “militia members” instead of “terrorists.”
White privilege takes many forms in America. Terrorists are nebulous brown “Arabs” and “Muslims.” White privilege deems that such a label not be applied by the mainstream news media and in the popular discourse to white Christians such as Allen, Wright and Stein.
On these matters, white privilege also imperils public safety. Since 2002 more Americans have been killed by white Christian Right-wing terrorists than by Muslims or Arabs. As reported by Duke University’s Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in 2015, “Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.” In their announcement about the arrest of Allen, Wright and Stein, the Federal Bureau of Investigation also referred to the Crusaders as “domestic terrorists.”
Article originally posted on salon.com