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Boston Bombers: Salon Writer Sirota Gets His Wish...Sort of
It must be tough being a liberal and having to constantly lock horns with that thing called reality. Shortly before Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev were found to be the Boston terrorists, Salon writer David Sirota penned a piece titled, "Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American." His stated thesis was that there was a double standard (no, not his own) in framing terrorist acts: while a religious or ethnic "minority" who perpetrated such a crime would be characterized as part of larger movement and his whole group targeted with "slander" and surveillance, white Americans who commit such acts are treated as "lone wolves." Furthermore, he claims that this is due to "white male privilege."
Of course, this thesis is stupid on the face of it. But before getting to that, it must be said that Sirota has gotten his way...sort of. The brothers Tsarnaev, like most Chechens -- and, in fact, Arabs and Persians -- are Caucasian. And white-male privilege notwithstanding, they will nonetheless be characterized as part of a larger terrorist movement: Islamic jihad.
Perhaps this won't fully satisfy Sirota, as the Tsarnaevs are part of an American religious "minority." I also suspect that the two Chechens aren't quite white enough for the left, which seems to have a standard for whiteness approximating that of the KKK circa 1960 (involving the one-drop rule and the belief that darker Italians aren't white). But, hey, Davey boy, take what you can get. And it seems that he's already doing just that.
Yet nothing will will save Sirota from receiving the Stupidest Commentary of the Month award. Of course, he was doomed once he accepted the nonsensical notion that "white-male privilege" actually exists (unless it's the privilege of being singled out for scorn and institutionalized discrimination) and built his thesis on its corollaries. And let's look at where this took him. He wrote in his Salon piece:
If one didn't know the left, it would be hard to imagine that this is serious commentary. Is Sirota really comparing Muslim jihadists to Gabby Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner, Newtown's Adam Lanza, or even Columbine's Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? He complains that these young white men are cast as lone wolves, but this characterization is for good reason.
They were lone wolves.
Loughner and Lanza were severely mentally ill, and Harris and Klebold were also deeply troubled. And they all committed crimes that had no rhyme or reason while in the grip of bizarre, base urges. They weren't united by any common ideology -- in fact, they had no coherent ideology.
For this reason, their acts weren't "terrorism," which involves committing violence in the name of a well-defined cause. This is far different from Muslim jihadists, who are united by common and coherent aims and are part of a widespread movement.
It should also be pointed out that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho was part of a racial minority, yet was, just like the white guys, branded a lone wolf.
In contrast, white-male privilege didn't seem to help the Germans and Italians who were interned by our government during WWII. And it should be emphasized that they were targeted based on nothing but an unchosen orientation: ethnicity.
The fact that one chooses to be Muslim, however, puts a very different light on the matter. The embrace of a religion or ideology tends to corollate with the holding of certain beliefs; thus, it is absolutely appropriate to consider a person's religion or ideology when assessing the kind of risk he may pose.
This is why Muslims are subject to surveillance and profiling -- and why they should be, whatever their race. On the other hand, mentally unhinged killers' unpredictability precludes effective profiling, except, perhaps, for applying greater scrutiny to the mentally ill.
Yet this wasn't Sirota's focus. While the people he condemns were defining the terrorist threat based on widespread belief, he was using the actions of a few mentally ill individuals to impugn a whole race.
It is Sirota who is defining matters based on race -- unjustly, I might add. And he ought to be ashamed.
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