Obama Administration: Only Muslims can be Terrorists

Middle East — By Erik Love on June 8, 2010 at 09:00
White House Photo

John Brennan in the Oval Office - White House Photo

The new May 2010 US National Security Strategy has been appropriately praised for doing away with some of the “global war on terrorism” rhetoric used by the George W. Bush administration.  President Obama’s National Security Strategy, a landmark document that Congress has required from each White House since 1986, removed Bush’s references to “Islamic extremism.”  This is a welcome change in an important White House document, however, another recent statement from a key White House official suggests a more complex and potentially racialized picture of the Obama Administration’s attitude toward combating terrorism.

Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, gave a speech shortly after the release of the National Security Strategy.  Brennan’s speech — which went largely unnoticed —  makes it quite clear that the Obama Administration has redoubled its efforts to “secure our homeland” by recognizing “the threat to the United States posed by individuals radicalized here at home.”  Remarkably, Brennan’s speech lists only seven terror attacks or attempted attacks carried out by “radicalized” Americans.  Each of the seven homegrown attacks on Brennan’s list was carried out by a Muslim.

Conspicuously absent from Brennan’s list of seven terrorist incidents is any discussion of the “individuals radicalized here at home” by the Christian Hutaree “militia,” a group secretly planning coordinated, deadly attacks in Michigan.  Brennan also forgets about the 2009 shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, carried out by a dedicated white supremacist.  Brennan’s lengthy speech makes no mention of the danger posed by right wing radicals like Joseph Stack, who flew an airplane into an IRS building.  Most tellingly, Brennan didn’t express any concern about terror inflicted against Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities in the form of violent hate crimes, including a pipe bomb that exploded at a mosque in Florida not long before Brennan’s speech.

In short, Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor seems to reserve the use of the word “terrorism” exclusively for violent acts that are carried out by Muslims.

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Author: Erik Love (4 Articles)

Erik Love is a Ph.D. candidate at University of California, Santa Barbara. [email protected]

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