Reposting – We Are Terrifying Ourselves: Terrorism Versus Mass Shootings

Several folks asked me to repost this today/tonight because it got lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s election news. So reposted!

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Yesterday a self radicalized Bangladeshi immigrant in New York attempted to blow up himself and a chunk of the New York City subway. There’s no indication so far that he was actually in touch with ISIS or any other extremist Islamic group.

Fortunately he failed.

He did burn himself and caused some minor injuries to three others. And as is always the case when this type of incident happens we are once again inundated with questions about terrorism and its relationship to immigration. The reality is that terrorism incidents are down globally for the second year in a row. Though there are increases in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Philippines, which makes sense giving the ongoing civil war in Syria and insurgencies and/or rebellions in the other states. The reality for Americans is that terrorism in the US remains rare –  a small n phenomenon.

GWU’s Program on Extremism’s tweet is only looking at attacks arising from extremist Islamic ideology and/or affiliation, but 19 in 3 years is 6.33 incidents a year. Hardly an epidemic. Overall there have been 201 terrorist plots and incidents carried out between 2010 and 2016. This is 33.5 per year. Here too, we’re not talking about a lot of terrorism. And remember it includes both plots and actual attacks that have been carried out. Here’s the breakdown, you’ll notice who is carrying out and/or planning the majority of terrorist attacks in the US:

The database shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists ― from white supremacists to militias to “sovereign citizens” ― compared to 63 cases by Islamist extremists. Incidents from left-wing extremists, which include ecoterrorists and animal rights militants, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents.

While we normally separate out terrorism from mass murder (four or more victims not including the perpetrator) by shooting, commonly called mass shooting, the difference in the number of incidents is staggering. We have now reached the point where there is at least one mass shooting per day in the US. As of 14 November 2017 there have been 317 mass shootings in the US so far in 2017. 2016 had 438! Mass shootings are not rare in the US – they are a very large N phenomenon.

The two types of violence do have some significant differences. Specifically in regard to motivation. Terrorism requires a political motivation; an attempt to use violence to force the state, the citizenry, or both to change their behavior as a result of the fear created by the act or acts of terrorism. Mass shootings that don’t have this component are just mass murders using a firearm. And, of course, the latter gets wrapped up in the ongoing argument over what the 2nd Amendment means and how it should be applied in the 21st Century.

There are, however, attempts to conflate these two issues. For instance, the attorney for the three Kansans facing trial for plotting to blow up an apartment complex where the majority of the residents are Somali immigrants is claiming that his clients activities are covered under both the 1st and 2nd Amendment. Specifically, his clients actions are protected as political speech/actions and as a type of freedom of assembly, as well as under the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

“This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will center around, and was in reaction to, the 2016 Presidential election,” defense attorneys wrote.

They also argued the case will require jurors to weigh whether the alleged conduct constitutes a crime or whether it is constitutionally protected speech and assembly and the right to bear arms.

This conflation, of an attempted act of domestic terrorism with lawful and protected speech and the right to keep and bear arms, heavily elides the distinction between terrorism and mass murder by mass shooting, which is the usual contact point for questions as to whether mass shootings are a form of terrorism. Short answer: if the shooter had a political motivation it could be terrorism. If the shooter doesn’t, then it most likely isn’t.

And this really gets to Robert Schooley’s observation. Because the Las Vegas shooter was a very affluent white man, despite the fact that he killed 58 people and wounded 546 more in under a half hour, outside of Las Vegas and maybe the home towns of the victims, the coverage dropped to almost zero quickly after the attack. Had yesterday’s attacker been a white guy with a gun there wouldn’t be any calls today to reform the US immigration system or for travel bans. There wouldn’t even be real calls for sensible reforms regarding firearms sales. Rather there would be calls for thoughts and prayers. And emphatic statements that it is too soon to discuss doing anything but thinking and praying. Americans have built up terrorism into an existential, uber-threat out of all proportion to the reality of terrorism to the lives of Americans. At the same time we’ve decided that mass murder by shooting is just something that happens – a type of background noise to our daily lives.

The national anthem, which has recently gotten recognized more and more, I notice, unequivocally states that the US is the home of the brave. It is high time Americans started living up to that statement and stopped being so easily spooked.



Open Thread: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Attempts to Thumb the Scale, Again

There’s been talk all week that Sessions “ought” to fire Mueller, and replace him with a (Repub-) “trustworthy” prosecutor. I personally doubt that’ll happen, because the blowback would be intense, and Sessions is having way too much fun pursuing his dreams of returning American society to the Fifties — the 1850s, for preference.


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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Yep, They Did It

One tiny positive note:



Rex Tillerson’s Speech at the Wilson Center

The famously reclusive Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, emerges to say something.

(Let’s see if I can do this embed thing)

 

 

Or you can find it here. Nothing much happening yet.



Evening Open Thread: In God We Trust – Richard Spencer, However, Must Pay Cash!

I’m pretty sure that UF did NAZI see this coming:

Remember, when dealing with neo-NAZIs, white supremacists, neo-fascists, neo-nationalists, and other extremists you want cash or money orders or an electronic funds transfer and you want it up front before providing goods and/or services.

Also, obligatory:



Dumb Ideologies Open Thread: Jade Helm, the Reboot — or Why There Will (Almost Certainly) Not Be Another Civil War This Weekend

Because this is the least intelligent timeline, Snopes has gone to the trouble of explaining:

Is ‘Antifa’ Planning a Civil War? – FALSE
Despite what random people might say in homemade YouTube videos, they offer no proof that any anti-fascist groups are planning even a skirmish…

In August 2017, rumors began to spread on social media that anti-fascists (a name often shortened to “antifa”, which has become shorthand for a subset of protestors, usually clad in black and accessorized with bandannas and who are evidently unnerving bloggers and vloggers enough to be the pet topic of many an angry online rant) were planning extended unrest, riots, killing random citizens, or outright civil war beginning on 4 November 2017…

Depending on the source, “antifa” (always treated as though it is one homogenous, unified group) is purportedly planning extended riots, joint violence alongside Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers, or a coup of the American government…

Of course, the Infowars faithful and other Trump voters automatically accept this as gospel (trans: good news), because they want to belief that the whole world is as fearful and doom-obsessed as they are. The Washington Post notes the hype, goes to interview the idiots on the other end of the political horseshoe:

… Infowars has warned “Antifa Plans ‘Civil War’ to Overthrow the Government.” The John Birch Society put out two recent videos warning Americans to “stay home and tell your children to do likewise” on Saturday. YouTuber “A Glock Fanboy” notched more than 400,400 views for a clip raising the alarm about “the first day of the revolution or whatnot.”

“Honestly, I’m happy,” the YouTuber told his followers. “Dude, we’ve been on the verge of the great war for what seems like forever and I’m just ready to get it going.”

While Nov. 4 has become a rallying point on the conservative landscape — complete with a hashtag “civilwar2017″ — down on the other far end of the political spectrum, the reality is equally significant. The left-leaning group Refuse Fascism is planning rallies across the country on Saturday, the first step in a large-scale, long game demonstration organizers hope will achieve nothing less than the unseating of the Trump administration.

“We formed this organization around two main points,” Andy Zee, one of the group’s organizers, told The Washington Post. “One is that the nightmare must end, and second, in the name of humanity we must refuse to accept a fascist America.”

Zee maintains that Refuse Fascism is committed to nonviolent protest, and scoffs at the ideas floating through the far right of antifa super-soldiers waging war on mainstream society. If anything, the jarring disconnect over Nov. 4 shows how easily facts are eaten alive by social media and regurgitated as conspiracy theory. The possible violence coloring that disconnect illustrates how truly ideologically isolated the two sides are from one another.
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Opportunistic Jingoism Open Thread: The “Diversary” Lottery

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire. “The Fatal Flaw of America’s ‘Forever’ War on Terror”:

Acts of violence are acts of violence, whether they come from DIY jihadists, or from people driven mad by their gambling debts, or from trigger-happy police. (This would be a good time to note that Saipov got out of his truck after having killed eight people and attempted martyrdom by cop by waving a pellet gun around. He failed even at that. He’s alive. Three years ago this month, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old, was waving a pellet gun around at nobody in particular and was shot dead where he stood by a cop named Timothy Loehmann. The eight people killed in New York on Tuesday are regularly referred to as “innocent victims,” which they undoubtedly are. But so was Tamir Rice.)

Partly because of its unseemly devotion to its firearms, this is still a very violent country, and it really doesn’t have the right to distinguish one act of violence from the others. But it does, because the Forever War has been manipulated into a machine that manufactures a new kind of American innocence—a replica of something that, frankly, never was very authentic in the first place. The Forever War has become a medieval morality play for the 21st century, something akin to the Paternoster Cycle from York, with the United States in the role of the petitions from the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a kind of national Halloween parade in which the country puts on a costume in an attempt to fool its enemies.

That the dramatic cycle is being led this time by President* Trump is proof that history has a dark and weird sense of humor. The president* leapt onto the electric Twitter machine on Wednesday morning to try and pin the blame of Senator Chuck Schumer with his customary disrespect for truth and common sense. The president* has yet to blame anyone for the radicalization of Stephen Paddock…

And it is here where we should point out that Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in a conventional civilian trial in a federal court in Boston, and the sky did not fall, and jihadis with their magic Muslim powers did not cause the Moakley Courthouse to fall into the sea.

That may not matter because absurdity is an essential part of The Forever War, and never more so than it is under the present administration. I mean, Jesus H. Christ on the D train, the guy was live-tweeting Wednesday morning’s episode of Three Dolts On A Divan as his response to a terror attack. The absurdity is forever because The Forever War is forever…


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