Democrats Want Senate Hearings On Domestic Terrorism After Charleston Shooting

A KKK-sponsored billboard in Harrison, AR.

A KKK-sponsored billboard in Harrison, AR.

There is hardly a day that goes by that we don’t hear about the dangers of foreign terrorists, specifically Islamic extremists. Turn on the TV to a news channel, especially Fox News, and you’ll inevitably find a pundit or politician talking about terrorism. If it is conservative media, you can bet it also is about how President Obama is putting America at risk by not supporting their pet issue, and that often turns out to be going to war with yet another country or putting troops on the ground to fight ISIS.

What we don’t usually hear about is domestic terrorism, and when we do, it is usually attributed to the suspect being a loner and/or mentally ill, not radical ideology. We saw this with the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Olympic Park bomber who was responsible for a series of attacks in Atlanta and Birmingham, the Sikh temple shooting in 2012, and the recent shooting in Charleston that was also carried out by a right-wing domestic terrorist. Now, Senate Democrats are calling for hearings on the matter, which is overlooked or explained away by media and politicians as isolated incidents committed by mentally ill individuals when they occur.

Democrats want the Senate to investigate domestic terrorism in the wake of a South Carolina shooting that left nine dead.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee; Dick Durbin (Ill.); Richard Blumenthal (Conn.); Dianne Feinstein (Calif.); Chris Coons (Del.) and Al Franken (Minn.) said in a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that lawmakers “must address the reality of domestic terrorism spurred by racial hatred head on.”

“We urge you to hold hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the threat posed by domestic terrorism and homegrown hate groups,” the senators said in the Tuesday letter. “In the past, mass violence in our country has been explained away as an act of insanity to be treated as a mental health issue. What we saw in South Carolina is about hate, and it is about evil.” (Source)

The media covers foreign terrorism, because it seems more of an “us against them” situation where we don’t have to confront the evil that lurks in our own back yards.

When they do discuss terrorism, it is usually about lone wolf jihadists who are radicalized via the internet, and not swastika-worshiping white people who gun down others in temples or churches, as the senators argued in their letter requesting the hearings.

“We often think of terrorism as the sacrifice of innocent lives in service to a murderous ideology, and [suspect Dylann] Roof’s actions were clearly driven by bizarre and perverse beliefs,” they said. “If this same act had been perpetrated by someone claiming a desire to harm Americans in the service of Islamist principles, it would immediately be labeled an act of terror.” (Source)

In the world of conservative media, the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage that has to be protected at all costs, while whitewashing the history where it is used as a symbol of the KKK and resistance to desegregation. This is why you have people rallying in Walmart parking lots protesting a retailer that decides to discontinue selling items with the Confederate flag, and ignoring the fact that it is very much a part of domestic terrorism.

There are currently 784 active hate groups in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Radical right-wing pastors are calling for a new civil war to “take the country back” after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on marriage, and gun extremists are calling for the assassination of public officials that won’t go along with their ideology. Sadly, it isn’t a question of if another domestic terrorism incident like Charleston or Oak Creek will happen again, it’s just a question of where and when.


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