By: Savin Mattozzi ~Staff Writer~
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force 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.” The United States is no stranger to terrorism. From the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865 and later the foundation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866, America has known terrorism for more than 150 years.
In the early 1900s, radical anarchists, who were mostly Italian, conducted bombing campaigns against what they perceived as symbols of capitalist America. The bombing of the Los Angeles Times Building in 1910 was the deadliest attack of the time. Twenty-one people were killed, and 60 were injured. The next incident that eclipsed the LA Times bombing as the deadliest occurred in 1920 when a horse-drawn wagon filled with explosives and ball bearings exploded outside the New York Stock Exchange. Thirty-eight were killed and another 300 injured in what would be known as the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
In that 75-year span, the country bore witness to hundreds of terrorist attacks from all over the political spectrum. Black nationalist groups like the Black Liberation Army (BLA) conducted small-scale attacks on police and symbols of White supremacy. Puerto Rican nationalist groups like the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) conducted attacks on political figures and American capitalists. The worst attack by FALN was in 1975 when they placed a bomb in a food cart in the Fraunces Tavern, a restaurant frequented by businessmen, in New York City. Four were killed and more than 50 were injured in the incident.
The Jewish Defense League, a far-right religious group that attacked groups and people they perceived to be anti-Semitic was responsible for several assassinations including that of Alex Odeh, a Palestinian-American activist. The Army of God, a Christian extremist group, and its offshoots were responsible for numerous abortion clinic bombings in the 1990s. One of its former members, Eric Robert Rudolph, was responsible for bombing a lesbian bar in Atlanta in 1997, which injured five, and was later convicted of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996 where two were killed and 111 were injured. The worst attack prior to Sept. 11 was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring more than 670.
These are but a few of the many groups and attacks our country has seen, but the main group our country and new president is concerned with is Islamic extremists.
According to New America, a Washington research center, in the years following 9/11, almost double the number of people have been killed by rightwing extremists as compared to Islamic extremists. Cases include the Charleston church shooting where nine were killed, the Sikh Temple shooting where six were killed and four injured, the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords where six were killed and 15 were injured, the attack on a Jewish center in Kansas City by a neo-Nazi who killed three and the attack on the IRS building in Austin where Andrew Stack flew his light aircraft into the building killing one and injuring 13 others.
This is not to say that there are not attacks perpetrated by Islamic extremists, nor does it mean that these attacks are irrelevant. Innocent people have died at the hands of people who contort Islam to fit their skewed vision of the world. This is not to be undermined.
However, we as a nation must look at the whole picture. We must look beyond the sensational headlines and see that the people who have taken the most number of lives and caused the most amount of destruction have been White, Christian men.
If the president was truly concerned about our national security, he would invest more in cracking down on these right-wing groups who have free rein in our country. Having a foolish ban on innocent people escaping war will do nothing to keep our country safe.