Why We Don't Call It Terrorism

Hard to disagree with the spirit of what Amanda Marcotte writes here on the squeamishness in referring to anti-abortion violence as terrorism:

I'm trying to imagine what would happen if a Muslim terrorist killed a specific target, and a local Muslim group said, "While we don't think he should have shot the target, we're glad the target is dead and hope that anyone else who intends to do the work the target was doing thinks twice about it. If they persist, we will ensure they are unable to continue in this work." Not only would they be called, bare minimum, "terrorist sympathizers," the FBI would be all over them and there would probably be some arrests made in short order. Especially if, as has happened in the case of Dr. Means, the members of the group started showing up at the second target's house, researching and publicizing her movements amongst the group, and sending death threats to the second target. If the government shrugged its shoulders and said there was nothing it could do about this, the country would be in uproar.

I don't know about arrests, but certainly American Muslim groups have gotten the message that anything remotely resembling a justification of terrorism or the underlying political critiques adopted by terrorists will draw suspicion. Imagine for instance, a prominent Muslim leader arguing that what Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad did was bad, but that we ought to take seriously what he said about the anger caused by the civilian casualties of drone strikes. Rep. Peter King would be calling for an investigation, and the individual in question would be cited as proof of a Muslim fifth column attempting to overthrow the United States. The last people to draw distinctions between speech and a criminal act in such matters would be the same people who endorse the results of murdering abortion doctors, even as they distance themselves from the method in a superficial manner. 

But that's part of the privilege of being a demographic majority--you get to pretend your religious nationalism is essential to the character of the country, while portraying the slightest deviation from nationalist orthodoxy as evidence of disloyalty. 

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