Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If The Shoe Fits...

I found myself scratching my head at two recent stories about terrorism here in the United States. One being the recently announced plot to attack malls and kill civilians and first responders, the other being a little-known arrest in Orange County, New York, of a teenager who had planned to resurrect the horror felt during the Columbine massacre by attacking his school in the manner that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did. Both are clear-cut cases of mass murder meant to cause fear and kill innocents. Yet the teenager gets arrested and goes to a psych facility and the mall killers are thrown into federal custody. Why the disparity?

It reminded me of another terrorism double-header from a few weeks ago. We all know the plot of Najibullah Zazi - the Afghan immigrant with ties to New York and Colorado who allegedly planned to set bombs off at large transit centers in the United States. Another arrest occurred a couple of weeks later involving possible plots of mass murder and bombs: that of Vincent Pizzonia in Suffolk County on Long Island. He accidentally detonated a bomb he was making and was found with more bomb-making materials and pictures of the interior of Columbine high School, as well as pictures of Harris and Klebold. Pizzonia was not even arrested and school administrators were mulling over whether they should allow him back to school. If those pictures had been of a major transit hub and Osama bin Laden rather than Columbine and Harris and Klebold, would we be in the same situation?

I'm not saying what we should do with folks like Zazi or Pizzonia, though a uniform way of dealing with terrorism situations would be helpful. We just need to recognize that terrorism is terrorism, whether done by a follower of Islam or a pissed-off white kid. If you have plans to harm innocents with weapons like assault rifles or explosives because you disagree with people, that would make you a terrorist. Whether you plan to do it at a school or at a train station, in the name of some twisted form of Islam or because you feel left out, it is terrorism.

When we focus on certain groups involved with terrorism (radical Muslims) and brush aside other groups (isolated suburban white kids) we lose sight of the simple fact that terrorism knows no color or ethnic boundary; it is not isolated in one particular demographic. Why do we reserve the word for some, but not others? Why do we torture some, but counsel others? Attacks on innocents are never called for, no matter who perpetrates them. Peace.

Photo - Uncle Sam (Son of the South)


  1. In that entire article on the white kid, the word terrorism or terrorist was never mentioned. Yet, when a Muslim is involved, the media bombards you with it.

    You should really view these cases in the context of a judicial system that has never been, and probably never will be truly color blind. While every case is truly different, I agree that there needs to be some standardization of punishments for these cases.

    Keep up the good work; I need more procrastinating for CPA studying

  2. Thanks for the comment, you're on point with contextualizing all of this with the justice system.

    A lot of the blame, in my opinion, still falls on the fourth branch. We can't forget Oklahoma City and the finger-pointing to the Middle East when, in reality, it was two born and bred Americans.

    It's sad when the media we rely on to give us truth and unbiased information is more concerned about the status quo and the bottom line than the quality of their content.

  3. Although I am a fan of fast tracking the death penalty for all of these people, since the only difference between successful murderers and failed murderers is "competence", I would like to point out some more inconsistencies in our judicial system that have seriously jeopardized the futures of many innocent people.

    While we can all mention the race card, another important difference in these cases is the age card. The fact is that, as a society, we tend to have "hope" for the youth in this country, as is evidenced by the inclusion of sentencing minors to juvenile facilities. When we discuss Muslim terrorists, we focus on adult males. Typically, even when younger Muslim teenagers are involved with suicide bombings, Western society watches with disgust that "terrorists would brainwash" children. Specifically in this example, it's not about race, but it is about age. The question becomes when does an individual's actions prove the solidification of hate and evil. That solidification is not something upon which I can comment, but I do believe it's before high school. The recidivism rate among these individuals is also high, regardless of race, meaning the perpetrators have a tendency to continue blighting our streets even after their rehabilitation in prison (we can probably then argue what the point of is prison is, but that's beyond the scope).

    As an aside: Kane, is there any way you can cover the beating of the Ecuadorian immigrant by the group of black teenagers in NYC from 4-5 weeks ago. I saw a news clip about it on TV while I was in the city, but haven't seen anything related since. I figured it was up your alley.