By Scotty Reid
Count Kareem Abdul-Jabbar among the white terrorism deniers commenting on the attacks committed by Dylann Roof against a SC Senator whom he asked for by name, along with the other defenseless souls trapped in the Charleston church with an admitted white supremacist. While Mr. Abdul-Jabbar makes salient points about racism deniers in media, he is among those making absurd claims about how the attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina was not terrorism.
In article written for Time, Mr. Kareem Abdul Jabbar seems confused about what constitutes terrorism.
For instance he says, “Terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan want to drive Americans out of their countries.”
If we use that criteria in determining who is and isn’t a terrorist, French resistance fighters opposing the occupation of France by German Nazis would be considered terrorists. Any number of African Independence fighters would be considered terrorists and in fact the US government considered South Africa’s Nelson Mandela a terrorist. Logic would hardly allow the classification of those trying to drive foreign occupiers out of their homelands as terrorists. As the old saying goes, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter depending on what side of a conflict you’re on.
Mr. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes that what Roof did was not terrorism because he could not realistically achieve his goal to start a race war or force blacks out of politics. Islamic radicals can not realistically take over the USA and implement Sharia but it is still considered terrorism when they attack and kill unarmed civilians.
“After an hour at the prayer meeting, Dylann Roof stood up and proclaimed that he was there “to shoot black people.” His rambling manifesto during the shootings was: “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” In his mind he was a terrorist, but in reality this was nothing more than hate crime using terrorist tactics to enact his racist fantasy.”
I would say that if we must use the term “hate crime”, it would more accurately apply to the execution of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this year by Craig Stephen Hicks. Hicks, a 46 yr-old white male, was known to post anti-religious statements on Facebook. Hicks is an atheist but it is important to note that he did not go into a white christian church and kill everyone inside. He targeted Muslim neighbors. Hicks has not been charged with a hate crime or terrorism but with murder, the same as Roof.
Mr. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continues,
“Roof had no hope of driving African Americans out of the country, starting a race war or engendering any political or social change at all. We shouldn’t use it as an excuse to discuss terrorism because that diverts us from the actual problem.”
What Roof did was a terrorist act despite whether or not he could bring about his goals.The definition of terrorism does not include any reference to whether or not terrorist can achieve their goals but their stated or implied intent.
Terrorism is “the use of violence to physically and psychologically terrorize a population by an individual or a group in order to draw attention to a cause, enact political change, or gain political power.”
Sarah Jones writing for politicususa.com in debunking FBI Director James Comey who during this still open investigation prematurely made the claim that the attack was not terrorism stated,
“Dylann Roof claimed blacks were taking over. He clearly had a right wing agenda to “preserve traditional social orders,” which is a form of terrorism.”
I would add that Roof believed in white supremacy, wrote about his belief in racist white wing ideologies and he assassinated a Black political representative in South Carolina that was working to advance legislation to address police shootings in the state.
As an aside, the FBI not that long ago elevated Black Liberation icon Assata Shakur to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorism List. Shakur along with several comrades are accused of getting into a shoot out with New Jersey State troopers that resulted in the killing of Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. While Shakur had been accused of several crimes involving murder and bank robbery, she would be acquitted on most of the charges and/or charges were dismissed. However, she was never accused of a crime involving the mass killing of civilians or politicians as is in the case of Dylan Roof. Shakur would escape prison in 1979 and was given political asylum in Cuba. Assata Shakur was moved to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List on May 2, 2013, the 40th anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike shooting.
At the time of Shakur’s placement on the terrorist list in 2013, Mr. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was not writing articles about how Assata Shakur isn’t a terrorist.
Later in his article Mr. Abdul-Jabbar becomes even more confusing in his application of the term terrorism.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is absolutely correct and on point in his assessment of racism deniers writing and talking about the motivations of white terrorist Dylan Roof. Fox News in particular has been engaging in media deception to divert attention away from the white supremacist aspect of the killings by calling it an attack on Christianity.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar accuses those denying racism had anything to do with the attacks of engaging in “media terrorism”. As far as I know, this is a new term or a relatively unknown term. Certainly media is used by terrorist and terrorist organizations to promote their ideologies. Corporate media in America has always advanced the terroristic goals of the US government by participating in smear campaigns and pushing outright lies against leaders of intended targets like Libya’s former Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi. I would also say that Fox News, Breitbart News and other right wing platforms certainly push xenophobic and racist right wing ideologies embraced by right wing terrorists in addition to their racism denial.
However, these media networks may be the preferred networks of white would be terrorists but they are not actually engaged in the physical acts of violence required to fit the definition of terrorism. They may be providing material support to white terrorists and potential terrorist through propaganda but what they are doing does not fit the classic definition of terrorism.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and anyone else who claims that the attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church which claimed 9 lives including a sitting state senator was not related to terrorism are ignoring the facts of the case. White Terrorism deniers are the reason that the US Department of Homeland Security under President Obama’s administration, who has yet to label the Charleston attack as terrorism related, gutted its section that tracked and investigated potential right-wing terrorists. No one can say for certain that if Homeland Security had not turned a blind eye to white right wing terrorism that the Charleston attacks would have not occurred but it sure did not help prevent the terrorist attack.
White terrorism deniers are both intentionally and unintentionally putting more non-white people in the USA at risk of more attacks. Since the US government is not interested in tracking white supremacists and preventing future attacks then it is imperative that Black people engage in their own counter-terrorism activities.