Thursday, April 05, 2007

Based in reality

Gavin at Sadly, No! has a little fun with Michelle Malkin's latest demand that local government officials adhere to right-wing dogma in education. What's Malkin outraged about? Well:
Here's an update to the whitewashing of jihad at Burlington Township High School. The district has released a statement about its mock terrorism drill, arguing that it really didn't mean Christian terrorists when it used "right wing fundamentalists" to portray the hostage-takers:


The fact that other public school districts have conducted similar mock terrorism drills, devised by emergency management officials singling out right-wing Christian fundamentalists, suggests that the district's statement is disinge[n]uous at best.

It’s not "insensitivity" that's the problem. It's willful ignorance. If the school district is truly committed to preparing its students for a terrorist attack, base it on reality, not P.C.

Actually, Malkin is just acting out the right-wing version of political correctness here: the only real terrorists, in her book[s], are foreign ones.

The "reality" that Malkin directs us to is a feverish Investor's Business Daily editorial imagining that Muslims are even now plotting to kill our children in their schools -- without even a shred of evidence that this is the case.

In the meantime, one might direct Malkin and the IBD to some actual reality:
In the 10 years since the April 19, 1995, bombing in Oklahoma City, in fact, the radical right has produced some 60 terrorist plots. These have included plans to bomb or burn government buildings, banks, refineries, utilities, clinics, synagogues, mosques, memorials and bridges; to assassinate police officers, judges, politicians, civil rights figures and others; to rob banks, armored cars and other criminals; and to amass illegal machine guns, missiles, explosives, and biological and chemical weapons.

As I explained awhile back:
It's true that, generally speaking, domestic terrorists are neither as competent nor as likely to pose a major threat as most international terrorists, particularly Al Qaeda. And the belief systems that feed the domestic terrorists have not become pervasive in popular Western culture the way Al Qaeda and Wahhabism generally have insinuated themselves in the Islamic world (though there has been an increasing blurring of the lines between the mainstream and extremist right in recent years).

Nonetheless, given the right actors, the right weapons, and the right circumstances, they remain nearly as capable of inflicting serious harm on large numbers of citizens as their foreign counterparts. This is especially true because they are less likely to arouse suspicion and can more readily blend into the scenery.

Most of all, what they lack in smarts or skill, they make up for in numbers: Since the early 1990s, the vast majority of planned terrorist acts on American soil -- both those that were successfully perpetrated and those apprehended beforehand -- have involved white right-wing extremists. Between 1995 and 2000, over 42 such cases (some, like Eric Rudolph, involving multiple crimes) were identifiable from public records.

Some of these were potentially quite lethal, such as a planned attack on a propane facility near Sacramento that, had it been successful, would have killed several thousand people living in its vicinity. Krar's cyanide bomb could have killed hundreds. Fortunately, none of these plotters have proven to be very competent.

The rate has slowed since 2000, but the cases have continued to occur. And someday, our luck is going to run out. Certainly, if we are counting on their incompetence, the fact that the anthrax killer (whose attacks in fact were quite successful in their purpose) has not yet been caught should dampen any overconfidence in that regard. Likewise, if Al Qaeda attacks again, that will likely signal a fresh round of piggybacking.

Of course, confronting this reality severely undermines the Islamophobic populist campaign that Malkin has specialized in recent months, and the conservative approach to the "war on terror" in general:
Making the public aware of the threat from domestic terrorists, especially as part of a real war on terrorism, would require getting the public to confront the reality that the "axis of evil" comprises not merely brown-skinned people with turbans and fanatical gleams but also that surly white guy next door with the pipe-bomb arsenal in his basement.

No wonder Malkin wants schoolkids to have terrorism drills about evil Muslims -- that makes recruiting for the "John Doe" movement that much easier.

It won't do a damned thing to make us safer. In fact, by blinding kids to the real nature of terrorism, it will just make them more vulnerable to harm.

[More on domestic terrorism here, here, and here. Also, a gallery of right-wing terrorists.]

[Lightly edited at ending.]

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