Salon columnist David Sirota’s recent piece (4/16/13), right from the headline, was supposed to be provocative: “Let’s Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a White American.” And it made an important point:
White non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats–the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts.
His point was that the government’s response would be very different–more costly, potentially more violent–if the perpetrators fit a certain profile.
This did not sit well with Fox host Bill O’Reilly (4/18/13):
This loon hopes that a deranged American killed other Americans so his own political agenda is not scrutinized.
This is especially ironic, because O’Reilly had, the night of the attacks (4/16/13), basically made Sirota’s point:
Talking Points believes the perps will be found and brought to justice and executed. But if this is an international terror attack, the repercussions will be severe. And if it’s home-grown, that will be another stain on American history.
Of course, there’s a massive difference between “severe repercussions” and a historical stain. And one needs only a passing familiarity with O’Reilly’s bloodthirsty rhetoric to understand what he means by repercussions.
After the September 11 attacks, he went on the air and advocated widespread attacks on civilians in countries he determined were guilty of something (9/17/01; FAIR Action Alert, 9/21/01). If the Afghan government did not quickly turn over Osama bin Laden, “the U.S. should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble–the airport, the power plants, their water facilities and the roads.” He went on:
This is a very primitive country. And taking out their ability to exist day to day will not be hard. Remember, the people of any country are ultimately responsible for the government they have. The Germans were responsible for Hitler. The Afghans are responsible for the Taliban. We should not target civilians. But if they don’t rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period.
And it wasn’t just Afghanistan–Iraq’s “infrastructure must be destroyed and the population made to endure yet another round of intense pain…. Maybe then the people there will finally overthrow Saddam.” And if Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi did not leave his country, “we bomb his oil facilities, all of them. And we mine the harbor in Tripoli. Nothing goes in, nothing goes out. We also destroy all the airports in Libya. Let them eat sand.”
These are the kinds of “repercussions” Sirota was hoping would be avoided if the perpetrator turned out to be a white American.