The Terror Trial We're Really Ignoring

'Fake news,’ indeed: The very day Trump whined that the media doesn’t cover Muslim terrorist attacks, it was ignoring the trial of a white man who allegedly tried to kill Muslims.

02.07.17 6:00 AM ET

A trial began in federal court on Monday of a radical religious cleric who allegedly plotted to kill Americans of another faith to prove his “commitment to our God.” Why haven’t you heard about this, you might be asking? Could it be as Donald Trump claimed Monday that the “dishonest media” is not covering all “radical Islamic” terrorist plots?

No, the actual reason is that the man on trial in a Tennessee federal district court is not Muslim. Rather he’s self-professed Christian minister Robert Doggart. If he were Muslim, we would of course have heard of his sinister plot. But as we have seen time and time again, terrorist plots by non-Muslims are met with a collective yawn by most in our media.

I wrote about Doggart in the past and our media’s failure to cover his case with even a quarter of the zeal with which they cover Muslims involved in terrorism. And make no bones about it, Doggart is allegedly a dangerous man, one who planned his terror attack in great detail.

Undercover FBI agents allege that Doggart was plotting to travel to upstate New York to kill Muslims there using explosives, an M-4 assault rifle and even a machete to cut the infidels to shreds. The FBI’s investigation also found that Doggart viewed himself as a religious “warrior” who wanted to kill Muslims to show to his commitment to his Christian God. Doggart even boasted that the attack on the Muslims “will be cruel. And we will burn down their buildings [Referring to their mosque and school.]… and if anybody attempts to harm us in any way… we will take them down.”

This man sounds no different from an ISIS terrorist wanting to kill people of other faiths in accordance with their own perverted interpretation of their religious faith.

My hope was that by the time Doggart’s case finally went to trial, the media might cover it. But that didn’t happen. In fact a Google news search of “Robert Doggart” within 24 hours of the first day of his trial came back with only one story, that being from a local Tennessee media outlet with an article titled, “Tennessee man with plans to attack a Muslim community appears in court.”

The double standard of how Muslim versus non-Muslim terror plots are treated was made even more acute by Trump’s speech on the very day Doggart’s trial began, when he claimed that the “dishonest media” didn’t cover radical Islamic terrorism. Is Trump actually suggesting that Muslims have killed Americans in terror plots on U.S. soil and our media ignored it? These stories are ratings gold for cable news.

Or could it be Trump was referring to the “Bowling Green massacre” that his aide Kellyanne Conway recently invoked to justify Trump’s ban on Muslim refugees? As most know, there was no such massacre in U.S. history by Muslim refugees despite Conway mentioning it to several media outlets.

Trump and Conway’s lies are especially despicable in that they create an even more toxic anti-Muslim climate by making my fellow Americans believe there were more terrorist attacks by Muslims than truly exist. The obvious purpose being that Trump is desperately attempting to attract support for his “Muslim ban,” which recent polls show is rejected by a majority of Americans.

Trump’s rhetoric ginning up fears of Muslims is even more irresponsible when you realize that Doggart is not the only right-wing actor plotting to kill Muslim Americans. There are others who want to kill me, my family, my friends, and other Muslims nationwide simply for our faith.

For example, in December white supremacist Glendon Scott Crawford was sentenced to 30 years to life for trying to build a radioactive weapon to kill Muslim Americans. Crawford, a Navy Veteran and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was an electrical engineer who has carried out extensive research on his radiation dispersal device designed to target a Muslim community.

And in September three men known as “The Crusaders”—as in the Christian crusaders—were arrested for plotting to kill Muslim refugees in Kansas. (Odd that we never hear Trump demand that the media refer to people like these men and Doggart as followers of “radical Christianity.”) Per the FBI, the three had been engaged in surveillance of the apartment complex where primarily Somalian Muslim refuges lived. The FBI also noted that the three spoke of dipping their bullets in pig’s blood before shooting the Muslims—which was reminiscent of a Trump’s campaign stump speech when he wrongly claimed that General Pershing had done the same when fighting in the Philippines.

And all of this comes only eight days after an anti-immigrant Canadian man, who had expressed his support for Trump online, walked into a Quebec mosque and opened fire. There this right-wing terrorist murdered six Muslims and wounded many more simply because they were Muslim. And while Trump tweeted about a Paris incident involving a man wielding a machete last week as “radical Islamic Terrorist,” we never saw even a single tweet from Trump calling out this terror attack in Quebec or warning of the threat of white supremacist violence.

It’s time the media start reporting on the threats by white supremacists and Christian radicals plotting to kill Muslim Americans with the same intensity as when a Muslim suspect is involved. First, it makes it more difficult for Trump to lie that the only threat facing our country comes from Muslims. And second, by warning of the threat of these right-wing terrorists, the media may very well help save the lives of Muslims and other Americans of color.