“I want surveillance of certain mosques,” bellowed Donald Trump to his followers at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, over the weekend. Ted Cruz recently declared that it would be “lunacy” to allow Muslim refugees into the United States because they “could be jihadists coming here to kill Americans.” And in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Marco Rubio exclaimed that in order to keep Americans safe, we need to be vigilant in our war against “radical Islam.”
The threat posed by ISIS is real and must be forcefully addressed. But if these Republicans truly want to keep us safe, why don’t they ever raise the issue of right-wing terrorists? After all, as The New York Times reported just a few months ago, “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”
The reality, of course, is that talking about scary Muslims plays great with the GOP base. In fact, a recent poll found that three-quarters of Republicans think Islam is “at odds” with American values.
But talking scary white guys gets you nowhere in the GOP. Keep in mind that Trump wouldn’t even unequivocally condemn the white supremacist groups or leaders who have expressed support for him, such as former Klan leader David Duke. The best Trump would do is say to a reporter of Duke’s endorsement that he would repudiate it “if that would make you feel better.”
We hear non-stop whining from the right about why won’t President Obama use the term “radical Islam”? Well, I have a question for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio: Why are you afraid to use the term “radical conservative” and address the threat posed to Americans from the right?
Some are likely asking what right-wing violence am I talking about? Trust me, if the perpetrators were Muslims you would know their names. So here are a just a few recent incidents of terror from the right:
1. Two white supremacist were arrested just two weeks ago for plotting a terrorist attack to bomb black churches and synagogues in Virginia. As law enforcement noted, these men were planning to shoot and bomb the “occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues” in accordance with their “extremist beliefs.”
2. Glendon Scott Crawford, a self-professed Klan member, was convicted in August for plotting a terrorist attack involving a weapon of mass destruction that would emit radiation in lethal doses. Crawford, who will be sentenced next month to 25 years to life, was planning to slaughter Muslim Americans in upstate New York.
3. Craig Tanber, a white supremacist was arrested in September in the murder of Iranian-American Shayan Mazroei in California. Tanber’s girlfriend had reportedly called Mazroei a “terrorist” and said “fucking Iranians” before her boyfriend stabbed the 22-year-old Iranian American to death outside a pub in Irvine, California.
4. The criminal trial of Robert Doggart, a Christian minister, will begin in Tennessee next January in connection with his plans to slaughter Muslim Americans in New York. His plot, which was thwarted by the FBI, involved working with far right-wing militia group members and using M-4 assault rifles, armor-piercing ammunition and even machetes to cut the Muslims “to shreds.”
And, of course, the most revolting terror attack from the right involved the case of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who in June murdered nine African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in hopes of sparking a race war. Roof, like ISIS, was using violence to accomplish his political goals.
Interestingly Trump continues to lie that “thousands” of Muslims Americans cheered in New Jersey on 9/11 but he doesn’t mention that some white right-wing Americans cheered the killing of these nine African Americans by Roof. And despicably we saw conservatives on social media cheering Friday’s Planned Parenthood shooting because in their view the gunman was stopping abortions. (As of now, we don’t know for certain the motivation of the Planned Parenthood shooter but it could very well turn out to be another example of right-wing terrorism on U.S. soil.)
There are 784 active white supremacist groups in the United States per the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC.) And these groups are not just sitting around drinking Jack Daniel’s and cursing minorities. They have radicalized people to commit violent crimes in recent years, such as the six Sikhs gunned down at a temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and the three people murdered at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas in 2014 by white supremacists.
And that doesn’t even include the violent right-wing anti-government groups like the Sovereign Citizens movement that has in recent years killed police officers and attacked government offices.
But still not a peep from these GOP candidates. Yet Cruz has no problem finding time to demonize the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Just last month he claimed that some BLM protesters are “embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers.”
And a BLM protester was assaulted at a Trump event Saturday night after the man yelled out “black lives matter.” Shockingly, Trump defended the assault saying, “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” adding, “It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Does Trump believe that an African America exercising his First Amendment rights is “disgusting”?
Within days of Trump’s defense of this assault, five BLM protesters were shot at a rally in Minneapolis by three white men that were reportedly white supremacists.
Now just so it’s clear, I’m not saying that these right-wing radicals are beheading people or carrying out massive attacks like we saw in Paris. But in some cases, it seems to be that that’s only because they were stopped before they could do just that.
If these GOP presidential candidates truly want to keep Americans safe, it’s time they stop ignoring the threat posed to Americans from the right. But who are we kidding? Expect more fear mongering about Muslims by the GOP. However, let’s not pretend later that we didn’t all see the warning signs about the threat of radical right-wing terror.