So When Does This 'War on Terror' Start?

By David Schmidt

I’ve got to give Obama credit—he’s made some real accomplishments in his first term. I mean, he sent 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan, he conducted airstrikes on Colonel Gaddafi … hell, he practically tracked down Bin Laden and strangled him with his bare hands.

My only question is: When are we going to start this whole “War on Terror” that I’ve been hearing so much about for the past ten years?

I think Obama’s predecessor put it best. In 2004, George W. Bush explained the motivation behind his foreign policy strategery: “We have a duty to defeat this enemy. We have a duty to protect our children & grandchildren. The best way to defeat them is to never waver, to be strong, to use every asset at our disposal, to constantly stay on the offensive and, at the same time, spread liberty.”

Now don’t tell my Republican parents I said this, but … Bush was right. The citizens of this great country of ours are facing the real and immediate threat of terrorists who attack civilians with senseless cruelty. We’re up against murderers who use thuggish violence to terrorize our nation’s men, women and children.

The only problem is this: these terrorists have nothing to do with Pakistan, Iraq or Afghanistan. They’re homegrown.

I’m not talking about the foreigners who typically get put on a no-fly list. These aren’t the bearded terrorists who get their asses kicked in a Steven Segal movie. They don’t wear a turban or shout passages from the Koran. I’m referring to the US citizens who attack innocent civilians with the deliberate purpose of intimidating certain sectors of our own population. Made in the USA, these terrorists are ready to use firearms, beatings and bombs to get their point across.

I’m referring, of course, to hate crimes, and to the individuals and groups that commit them.

According to Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656(d), terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.” Al Qaeda and Osama aside, let’s apply this simple definition to America’s hate crimes:

Premeditated: In June of 2005, Daniel J. Schertz of the Ku Klux Klan sold several pipe bombs to an undercover police informant, telling him that the bombs had been constructed to murder people of Mexican and Haitian descent.

Politically motivated: On the day following President Obama’s inauguration, Keith Luke of Brockton, Mass., shot three African immigrants. Luke was arrested before he could follow through on his plan to protest the election of a Black president with a massive killing spree.

Non-combatant targets: In June 2009, Shawna Forde of the “Minutemen American Defense” vigilantes broke into the home of a Latino man, murdering him and his 9 year old daughter.

In April 2004, neo-Nazi Sean Gillespie firebombed a Jewish synagogue in Oklahoma City. He videotaped the act, hoping to inspire others to take violent action as well.

The sheer numbers involved in these attacks are deafening…especially if we compare them with the toll of terrorists from other countries. In the past decade, 3,000 people have been killed on U.S. soil by Islamic fundamentalists, with a grand total of one (1) successful terrorist attack.

And how many hate crimes have taken place in the United States?

According to a US Department of Justice study published in 2005, an average of 191,000 hate crime incidents took place each year from 2000 to 2003. In 38% of these incidents, the victim was raped, robbed, injured or threatened with a weapon. If we were to extrapolate this average for the past ten years, an estimated 725,800 of our people have been targeted by severely violent hate crimes since 9/11.

To be sure, some of these attacks were solitary acts of violence committed by prejudiced individuals. A racist man who beats someone up may not fit the textbook definition of a “terrorist”. But many of these incidents go beyond random violence, being carefully orchestrated attempts to deliberately intimidate a certain sector of the population. The Southern Poverty Law Center has registered more than 1,000 recognizable “hate groups” in the United States; many of them are prepared to use violence to enforce their ideals.

The generalized sense of fear and hostility is palpable in certain parts of our country. Two friends of mine were driving across Georgia a few years ago. While passing through a small town late at night, a raised 4x4 truck thundered past them, screeched to a stop and backed up alongside my friends’ sedan. A blinding spotlight shone in their faces for a few seconds before the truck’s driver lowered it. “Oh … sorry to bother you folks,” he told my friends. “I just didn’t recognize your car. I’m in charge of our ‘nigger watch’ tonight.”

Needless to say, the situation would have ended very differently if my friends had not been white. So why, after all these years, are there still areas of our own national territory that aren’t safe for certain people? Why isn’t the entire United States a “green zone”?

How about it, Mr. President? Where are the big guns? We’ve got thousands of brave men and women who are willing to take up arms and lay down their lives for the safety of their fellow Americans. What if we deployed them to certain key areas of our own country to ensure the safety of all our citizens?

Imagine it: any time a hate crime takes place (suggesting the presence of a hostile organization), choppers are brought in within a matter of hours. Boots on the ground. Doors are kicked in, weapons drawn. Suspects rounded up. Soldiers comb the community, securing the area. The hate group is tracked down and driven out of that neighborhood in a matter of days.

I guarantee you, it’ll send the domestic terrorists running in no time. (At least running to the next town over.) The Commander in Chief will have every right to show up in that town bedecked with flight suit and codpiece, standing proudly beneath a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner.

Of course, this strategy may not thrill everybody. I can hear the cries of protest already.

So this begs a very important question: if we wouldn’t be happy with our own military patrolling our streets in search of domestic terrorists, if we don’t believe it would be a realistic way to root out terrorism at home … then why do we assume this approach will work halfway around the globe?

David Schmidt is an immigrants’ rights and fair trade organizer in San Diego. Email

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2011

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