Kya Chanlevitz
Aug 25, 2017

Militias and Domestic Terrorism

5 comments

Even though there are regulations put in place to restrict the power of militias, often times (and occasionally because local governments turn a blind eye), these organizations get away with overstepping their boundaries. Should groups like the KKK or neo-nazi party, who have repeatedly worked to intimidate and spread fear (i.e. carrying guns in rallies, this) be portrayed in the media as terrorists, just as ISIS is? Nowadays, we will hear them being called "hate groups" and "supremacist organizations", but a name I don't hear them being called is "domestic terrorists".

Kymberley Chu
Sep 5, 2017

Kya and Rachna,

I do agree with your point on addressing hate groups as domestic terrorists when provoking violence or hate/bias incidents to intimidate others. The problem is that domestic terrorism is not classified as a crime in federal law. I do think that both politicians and civil groups should work together for bills on domestic terrorism. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/22/the-law-should-treat-domestic-terror-as-the-equivalent-of-international-terror/

 

At the same time, we should be aware of what's legal and what's moral. For example, freedom of speech may allow such groups to express their beliefs without prosecution. However, it may be immoral for them to spread fear and encourage violence towards others. http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2016/07/22/4505316.htm

 

Jonah Goldman
Sep 5, 2017

Putting hate groups under the same lens in the media as groups like ISIS would be counter-productive to fighting against both types of groups.

First, hate groups thrive off of the hatred they get in return. The more resistance they get, the more they themselves will fight back. This isn't to say that hate groups should be left with no counter-protests, but there is far more violence when there is counter protesting from the hate groups (as we saw in Charlottesville). While carrying guns and spreading intimidation should not be accepted in society, the violence always escalates when there are counter-protests. These groups thrive off the hatred and comparing them to those in the Middle East who commit horrible acts of violence every day just encourages more growth of hate groups. Even if the voices of hate groups are portrayed negatively by the media, it is still toxic to spread their opinions to the public as it exposes more people to their opinions. And just as we have seen in the past, the instant the label of terrorist gets attached to a group, the media never stops covering them.

 

Second, when you compare hate groups directly to groups such as ISIS, you desensitize the use of the word "terrorism". If racists can be put under the same word as people who behead and shoot others, then there is far too much variation with the word. Also, even with the phrase "domestic terrorism", when racist hate groups are defined this way, they are put under the same title as the San Bernardino shooters. This displays a clear problem as the instant we undervalue a word we commonly use for actual killers, we undervalue the importance of eliminating those killers and spread the opinions of hate groups even further in the media.

 

In general, the hatred can only really be stopped as soon as it becomes illegal, which may be a struggle to achieve particularly with a Republican controlled Senate.

enriquejsancheguiguren
Sep 13, 2017

Politifact released this look at domestic terrorism statistics that showed something I think a lot of people already knew, but a lot more people probably didn't realize, which is that far right groups (white nationalists, militia groups like the ones Cliven Bundy supported, etc) are behind more of these acts than any other group. While I do think there are slight distinctions between what they're doing and people like ISIS, they are motivated by the same factors (one group thinking it has some moral superiority that gives it the OK to terrorize civilians of another group) and they both actually commit terrorism. This is important to note, because if not we're giving these people a pass. While there are arguments to be made that it will raise their profile, or that we shouldn't equivocate, in the USA we have had much more White nationalist terrorism for much longer than we've had problems with ISIS or similar groups. To say this isn't a form of terrorism is simply letting it slide, and while they aren't beheading people, that doesn't mean these aren't despicable human beings who safely fall under the label of terrorist, whether they be putting a pigs head outside a mosque, to going into a church and shooting it up. We don't want to believe that our homegrown terrorists could be as bad as those overseas, and in some ways they aren't, but that doesn't give them a pass and it doesn't mean we shouldn't own up to what terrorism really is. Calling white nationalists terrorists shouldn't cheapen the word terrorism as long as we understand that the victims of white nationalism, which in this country waaaay outnumber those of terrorism of any other kind, suffer just as much as those from Islamic terrorism or whatever other group attempts to strike terror in this country.

Kya Chanlevitz
Sep 15, 2017

I agree with Enrique-- branding white supremacist groups as domestic terrorists does not diminish the horrible actions of ISIS or the meaning of "terrorism". Whether or not domestic terrorism is a crime, groups that commit terrorist actions are terrorists, and there are more than a few white supremacist organizations fall into that category. Yes, some terrorist organizations may take more radical actions than others, but actions classified as terrorism are not purely limited to the killing of others.

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