Federal agents arrested a suspect Wednesday in connection with the attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Day memorial march in Spokane, Wash.
I’ve skimmed through several articles about this bomber, and so far haven’t seen any that tell us his religious affiliation. None of them imply that his race, place or origin, or religion, have anything to do with his terrorism attempt. Some of them draw connections to his possible associate with neo-Nazi or racist groups with violent ideology, but I haven’t seen suggestions that he’s connected with these groups merely because he’s white, or any talk about suspicion of white people’s radicalization and involvement in terrorism.
Not being a scary Muslim also means his attack isn’t treated as such a big deal, or part of a scary national security problem. Though if it turns out he is part of neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups, then his attack actually would be part of a scary national security problem, unlike Muslims.
And a point I think we in Boston should pay special attention to:
In the aftermath of the great cartoon terrorist scare of 2007, when Boston was attacked by Mooninites hanging from bridges, I stated what should’ve been obvious: Cartoon characters hanging from bridges are much less likely to be terrorist bombs than most other objects we see everyday, because if someone really wanted to set off a bomb to kill people, they’d try to make it unobtrusive and less likely to draw attention. I wrote:
If you want to cause death and destruction and terror with a bomb, you could put it in a backpack stuffed with papers and clothes. Dress up like a student, and go sit down in Harvard Square eating a sandwich. Get up, “forgetting” your backpack (you could receive a cell phone call at an appropriate moment if you want to dress up the acting), and walk away into the crowd. Nobody would notice anything suspicious, nobody would call the police.
Well, whaddya know? This terrorist, who really did want the bomb to go off and kill people, left it in a backpack near the parade route.
Our national reaction to terrorism is so far beyond fucked up, calling it fucked up is a compliment. Terrorism in the US is extremely rare, and kills far fewer people than many everyday things like car accidents, smoking, and poor health care. Yet it has us worked up into a frenzy… focusing on all the wrong things!
Striking blows against quirkiness and playfulness and anything weird, demonizing religions and ethnic groups and spreading division and fear, giving up privacy only for to give authorities greater control with no benefits to us, walling off our country from the immigrants that would make us great if we’d only let them, and pretending that we need to do all these things for the sake of safety, so we can feel good about stabbing ourselves in so many ways.