Terrorism- the unlawful use of and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
The above definition comes from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and can be found on the FBI website. However, there is no single, universally accepted definition of terrorism. The FBI distinguishes between domestic and international terrorism, and their meaning is somewhat different from the CFR.
Suicide bomber- a terrorist who carries out a bomb attack, knowing that he or she will be killed in the explosion (dictionary.com).
As with terrorism, suicide bomber comes with variations in the definition, depending on what source you’re using.
Perhaps by now, you’re wondering why I’m providing an educational forum on the meaning of these words. Or, more than likely, you may have figured it out already.
As most of you know, there was a bombing on Christmas day in Nashville, Tennessee, attributed to a lone person, Anthony Quinn Warner. Luckily, nobody perished in the bombing except the perpetrator himself, although there was substantial property damage.
This post’s point is not to determine what motivated Mr. Warner to commit such a horrific crime because that information is still changing by the hour; it seems. My real objective is to highlight what I think is the hypocrisy of the mainstream media in how they treat specific individuals, as opposed to others. And yes, I’m talking about the color of someone’s skin or the sound of a person’s name.
Mr. Warner was a 63-year-old white male. I’ve been waiting since Christmas Day for someone in the press to label Mr. Warner what he most certainly was: a domestic terrorist suicide bomber. But until now, as usual, the media tip-toes around what seems to me to be a clear cut case. Obviously, in the moments after the bombing, we had no idea who did it, but now that we do, let’s call it as we see it, please.
It’s not just the media, though. We need to look no further than the current loser president of the United States to see how one group of people is looked at differently than other groups.
In other words, is there any doubt whatsoever that if the perpetrator of the bombing was named Muhammad, was an immigrant, and had dark skin, the loser president would have tweeted countless times already on how we must tighten our borders or demand an additional ban to Muslims coming into our country?
Because while he rants, raves, golfs and tries to overturn the election, he has not said one word as of this writing about the Nashville suicide bombing. Not one word. That, of course, speaks volumes about where we are in American society. Luckily, incoming President-elect Biden did weigh in on the incident, providing some needed leadership in the vacuum in which we now find ourselves.
Look, Mr. Warner may have been nothing more than a crackpot who espoused crazy conspiracy theory beliefs about lizard people (actual lead authorities are looking into). Still, it doesn’t hide the fact that he most certainly terrorized a city and caused tremendous property damage. He also was responsible for several internet and phone outages in the surrounding area. That sounds like a terrorist to me, although maybe not the kind that meets the FBI’s definition.
At the very least, the media should call him a suicide bomber because does that not accurately describe what he did? Most headlines say “Nashville bomber,” or “bombing suspect,” or something similar, but rarely have I heard the word suicide attached. Why?
In a puff-piece from NBC News this morning, Mr. Warner was described as a “loner who had recently retired as an information technology consultant.” His longtime neighbor said that Warner was “friendly to him and his wife, and would sometimes interact while Warner was working in his yard or on his property. I never really saw him in a dark mood.”
I don’t know. It seems eerily familiar to most of the descriptions we hear about when describing several mass shootings over the years, mostly carried out by, yes, white guys. Again, if you have an assault weapon, and your goal is to shoot a bunch of people and very likely die yourself, I’d call that person a terrorist as well. Again, not the FBI definition, but it certainly feels like the right description.
We know that Fox News and other far-right media organizations would have 24/7 coverage if the Nashville suicide bombing were perpetrated by a young Muslim man in his twenties. It fits their narrative that those types of individuals are evil and violent people; that the current loser president’s Muslim travel ban is not only correct but should expand.
It’s the usual double-standard, folks. It’s all around us. Those people are bad, but the white domestic terrorist suicide bomber? Well, he was a loner and crackpot—nothing to see here.
Again, perhaps Mr. Warner was nothing more than a deranged guy with severe mental illness, who’s motivation for such a heinous act is unclear. But for once, I’d respect media outlets much more if they more accurately describe situations as they are. There’s no need to sugar coat things. Just because he wasn’t a radical Muslim terrorist doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a radical domestic terrorist. I know, it’s all about semantics, I suppose.
The far-right media rarely ventures into the domestic terrorism realm. They’d much rather spend hours upon hours on Antifa and Black Lives Matter. When crazies with assault weapons storm the Michigan statehouse, or when several get arrested for plotting the kidnap and murder of that state’s governor, it doesn’t play well to their audience. It’s always the blacks, the Muslims, or the radical left. The Proud Boys? Not to worry, just a fringe group of misfits.
That we have such a large segment of society, who do not think domestic terrorism is a thing, tells you so much about how splintered and divided we are in America.
We’ve got to do better. While much of the Beltway Press did yeomen work in exposing the current president’s corruption and assault on democracy the last four years, more often than not, they dropped the ball in how they covered him. It was never, “the president lied today.” Usually, it was, the president “falsely claimed,” or the president stated, “with no basis in fact.” Rarely did they call him out for flat-out lying. I believe this normalization of someone who should never have been given the benefit of the doubt contributed to the American people simply not paying enough attention to his destructive behavior.
What happened in Nashville is nothing short of tragic, although thankfully, casualties were minimal. But in the future, let’s start calling the mass shootings, bombings, and other acts perpetrated by white men what they most clearly are: domestic terrorism. The Nashville incident terrorized a city and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Whether the motivation was political, social, or because he thought Democrats were lizard people, the media should do us all a favor and label the incident correctly.
Maybe we need to update the definition.