According to The Independent, Clark County’s Sherrif Joseph Lombardo says they’re not yet treating the massacre on the Vegas Strip as terrorism, “…not at this point. We believe it is a local individual. He resides here locally…we don’t know what his belief system was at this time.”
The statement felt like salt in the wound of a country that’s been hurt so many times, so badly, by our white male population, and a country that excuses them all as mentally ill.
“His belief system” dictated that killing over 50 people and sending hundreds to the hospital was the appropriate reaction to whatever he was feeling.
In an interview about Dylan Roof, reporter David Neiwert said, “A lot of this has to do with embedded judgments about where these threats come from ― and that has to do with fear-mongering around Islamophobia.”
Wasn’t Roof, who shot nine people, a terrorist? Wasn’t James Alex Fields, who drove his car into a human being in Charlottesville a terrorist? Wasn’t George Zimmerman a terrorist, who killed a black teenager from behind? Wasn’t Jeremy Joseph Christian, who stabbed two men for shielding Muslim women, a terrorist?
This mislabeling is not a mistake; white-male-supremacy is buried so deep in the veins of this country, our white male leaders don’t even know they’re doing it when they respond to the events on the news.
It’s been so ingrained in our brains that white men are safe, that Christian men can’t cause harm, that when we see it, we deny the absolute and horrific terror they cause.
Last November, I watched a judge hand down nine tough sentences for Somali, Muslim young men who were involved in ISIS radicalization efforts online.
We keep a watchful eye on Muslim youth but put our blinders on when we see white youth communicating with “alt-right” radicalizers.
I’ve seen more swastikas in public places this year than I have my entire life. For the first time ever, I was nervous to go to synagogue for Rosh Hashana services. Would we be the next Mosque bombing?
Radicalizers are spreading this illness to our men, they weaponize the anger of these vulnerable people and giving them something to take it out on. Something to blame.
The first step in de-weaponizing white maleness is healing the wounds of privilege from the other side, helping white men cope appropriately when they feel control slipping out of their hands.
We need to encourage mental health support for everyone who needs it. We need to encourage men to speak openly and vulnerably about shifting attitudes, and what’s really happening when they perceive something as coming after their control.
But before we do that, we need to determine what we call terrorism based on other factors than skin color and religion.