Here are a couple of questions for you: If, in this country, terrorism is to be fought by travel bans, if (as Donald Trump once tweeted) “we don’t want ‘em here,” then why are all the travel bans aimed at Muslims? If the most threatening terror types shouldn’t be traveling either to or in this country, then why aren’t there travel bans against white Americans? After all, in the United States, terror has actually been a remarkably ashen phenomenon and I’m not just thinking of young white supremacist Dylann Roof, who walked into Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME church and gunned down nine black parishioners in June 2015, or Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old white retiree who slaughtered almost 60 people and wounded hundreds more from a Las Vegas hotel window in November 2017, the largest mass shooting by a single gunman in American history. Between 2008 and 2015, for instance, a majority of the 208 cases defined as terrorism in the United States (115 of them) were perpetrated by right-wing white extremists, almost double the number inspired by Islamic terrorism. Such attacks, the record seems to show, are also more likely to be deadly.
Except in cases like those of Dylann Roof and that Las Vegas massacre, such white acts are often not treated as a form of terror at all, but as so many random incidents of violence and are generally not given the kind of blanket media attention that those of self-proclaimed Islamist terrorists get. As comedian Ken Cheng put it: “Terrorism is one of the only areas where white people do most of the work and get none of the credit.” And of course this has only become more obvious in the age of Trump, years in which, as TomDispatch regular Arnold Isaacs suggests today, a growing crew of Islamophobes, already professionalized and creating a stream of fraudulent propaganda about Islamist terrorism in this country, has become ever more influential in the world of the alt-right and beyond. Isaacs, who has been covering anti-Muslim bigotry in this country for this website, lays out today just how the Islamophobes make their “case.”