Comment: Are US Authorities Ignoring Far-Right Terrorism?
August 7, 2012 6 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last month I gave a radio interview on a show syndicated on National Public Radio stations in the United States, in which I warned that American far-right extremism is growing faster than any other time since the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. I specifically pointed the finger at an increasingly dangerous mix of gun culture, neo-Nazi ideology, and white-nationalist interpretations of Christianity, known collectively as Christian Identity. In the post-9/11 world, many in the West tend to be forgetful of incidents like the neo-Nazi-inspired 1995 Oklahoma City bombing —the largest terrorist attack on US soil prior to 9/11. Even recent high-profile cases, such as the 2011 Norway attacks by neo-Nazi Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Oslo and Utøya, have proven unable to challenge that dangerous amnesia. It follows that last Sunday’s mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which left seven people dead and three injured, including a police officer, poses a long-overdue opportunity for reflection.
The attacker has been identified as Wade Michael Page (pictured), 40, a former US Army soldier who had previously lived in Colorado and North Carolina. He appears to have acted alone, armed with a legally purchased 9-millimeter handgun. His record indicates that he had been issued permits in North Carolina to purchase five pistols in 2008, though he did not have permit to carry concealed weapons. It also appears that Page, who served in the US military from 1992 to 1998, was a committed neo-Nazi, who had an active role in white-power music —a bizarre subgenre of hardcore heavy metal. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page led a racist white-power music band known as End Apathy, which he founded in North Carolina, after several years of playing in another band called Definite Hate. Others report that Page, who sported a shaved head in typical neo-Nazi fashion, had several Nazi-themed tattoos all over his body.
Although some —including this writer— lean heavily toward categorizing the Oak Creek shooting as a domestic terrorist incident, US Federal authorities are approaching the case with caution, saying that, until a definite motive is determined, it represents a “possible act of domestic terrorism”. I wonder whether a similar degree of hesitation would be shown if the culprit had been an Arab Muslim?
An enlightening article published yesterday in Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog argues that the Wisconsin shooting is the latest in a long line of post-9/11 terrorist attacks by homegrown white supremacists in the US. Earlier incidents include the 2009 shooting at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and the 2010 airplane attack on the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas. These incidents, examined collectively, pose a clear challenge to the stereotypical face of domestic terrorism in the United States. Homegrown terrorism is often carried out by beardless Caucasians motivated by xenophobia and militant white-nationalism. And the more US authorities continue to obsessively monitor Muslims while ignoring the American far-right, the higher the danger that neo-Nazi extremist groups can continue to proliferate out of sight.