I just saw a headline asking if the US could experience homegrown terrorism like Norway recently did. Duh. Not only could we, we have, when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168. The US Military defines terrorism as “The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological. According to The Department of Defense, “Domestic terrorism is probably a more widespread phenomenon than international terrorism.”
Terrorism: Who did it?
When the early reports came in on the Norway tragedy, news outlets speculated on which Islamic terrorist group might be responsible. Even after blonde Norwegian Anders Breivak was arrested, a few news outlets suggested he might have been radicalized by outside forces. According to Breivak’s 1,500 page compendium, he worked alone and urged others to work alone as well, in order to avoid detection. Most of the forces that radicalized him were “inside” forces, inside Breivik himself.
Besides Timothy McVeigh, many have forgotten that the Ku Klux Klan was responsible for beatings and lynchings for many years following the Civil War, though the KKK is now trying to clean up its image and presents itself as a political movement against immigration and for family values. The Aryan Nation is not going mainstream, however, and openly admires Hitler, militarism, and the wonders of the Master Race.
I have spent time with some Aryan Nation members. Are they terrorists? According to the definition, they would have to actually use violence to qualify. Talking about violence is not against the law in the land of the free, but talk about violence they did-and guns, lots and lots of guns. I questioned them about their ideology, which is quite…unmovable shall we say. If I thought the world was as they see it, I might think they made sense. Brievik shared their opinion that there was a conspiracy by inferior races to take over the world and destroy “civilization.” Think of it-the end of civilization-what sacrifices would an honorable make to prevent that? (The word “honor” comes up frequently among Aryan Nation members.)
Terror Watch List
According to the ACLU, there are about one million names on the bloated Homeland Security terror watch list. With that many names, there must be tens of thousands of American citizens. It is highly unlikely that they are all potential terrorists, and also unlikely that a person operating under the radar like Breivik did would get listed.
Terrorism is Not About Religion
Terrorists come in all races and religions. Al Quaeda, as we are so well aware, is based on a certain interpretation of Islam. Timothy McVeigh was an atheist, as were the Weather Underground, an anti-war group that actually bombed the Pentagon in the 1970s (they also evaded capture for years and eventually turned them selves in.) Breivak was first labeled as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist, but according to his compendium, to him Christian simply meant “not Muslim, Hindu, or some other religion,” and he noted that Christian-atheists and Christian-agnostics were welcome to take part in the revolution. The Klan claims to be Christian, but many Christians would disagree.
Terrorism and Injustice
Terrorists have in common that they brood about an injustice that they believe cannot be corrected through normal channels. McVeigh witnessed what has come to be called the 1993 Waco siege, in which 76 men, women, and children died. McVeigh was also aware of the the 1992 Ruby Ridge incident, which involved the the Randy Weaver family and resulted in a Senate investigation calling for reforms in federal law enforcement. McVeigh decided he certainly couldn’t go to the police for justice, since the police were the perpetrators. The Weather Underground had protested against the Vietnam war peacefully for years before they decided that protesting had no effect. Breivik was convinced that no one could say anything negative about Muslim immigrants in Norway, or they would be branded a racist and fired from their job. Breivik despised “political correctness” and considered it to be a tool of the “Marxist multiculturalists” to further their plan for destroying civilization.
Terrorism in the US
Homegrown terrorism has happened and can happen again in the US. After all, the so-called Indian Wars certainly constituted terrorism to the Native Americans. Behind that question is the real question, “What can we do to be safe?” That would depend on how much liberty citizens are willing to trade for an ultimately dubious security.
The Weather Underground arose in response to a perceived unjust war. McVeigh acted in response to perceived unjust acts by law enforcement. Brievik spent nine years planning a response to what he perceived as an unjust threat to civilization. We can not do much about the perceptions of extremists, though divisive fear-mongering from pundits and politicians only adds fuel to the fire of fevered imaginations. We can, however, do something about divisive fear-mongering, and we can do something about genuine injustice.