On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it had arrested three white men, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, who as part of a militia group called the Crusaders planned to bomb a housing complex and mosque in Garden City, Kansas. Allen, Wright and Stein had stockpiled 2,000 pounds of ammunition and numerous homemade bombs to conduct the attack.
Their intended victims were Somali immigrants. In information gathered by the FBI, Stein, the apparent ringleader, told his followers, “If you're a Muslim I'm going to enjoy shooting you in the head.” Stein also instructed his confederates, “if you start using your bow on them cockroaches, make sure you dip them in pig's blood before you shoot them.”
The destruction and murder would have been total. Allen, Wright and Stein planned to spare no one from their hateful wrath; babies and children would be killed along with adults. Stein told his fellow militia members, “When we go on operations there's no leaving anyone behind, even if it's a 1-year-old. I'm serious. I guarantee if I go on a mission those little fuckers are going bye-bye."
Their ultimate goal was to “send a wake-up call” to (white) Americans about the “threat” posed by Muslims. Stein said "the only fucking way this country's ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherfucker."
In this political moment, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s tendrils are everywhere: Stein is an avid supporter of Trump and was organizing a “security detail” to protect his hero and champion when he visited Pennsylvania and Ohio in late October.
The bomb plot by Allen, Wright and Stein is part of a larger pattern. As reported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 79 mosques were attacked last year. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented how the number of hate crimes against Muslims has increased this year.
The murderous actions planned by Allen, Wright, and Stein are the very definition of terrorism: politically motivated violence against a vulnerable civilian population.
The headlines from major American news outlets, however, described Allen, Wright and Stein as “militia members” instead of “terrorists."
White privilege takes many forms in America. Terrorists are nebulous brown “Arabs” and “Muslims." White privilege deems that such a label not be applied by the mainstream news media and in the popular discourse to white Christians such as Allen, Wright and Stein.
On these matters, white privilege also imperils public safety. Since 2002 more Americans have been killed by white Christian right-wing terrorists than by Muslims or Arabs. As reported by Duke University’s Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in 2015, “Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.” In its announcement about the arrest of Allen, Wright and Stein, the FBI also referred to the Crusaders as "domestic terrorists."
But the right-wing media and the Republican Party has chosen to actively suppress that information — as was the case with West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center’s findings about the threat posed by right-wing anti-government groups, which were met with protests, derision and threats to cut research funding. In all, the image of the Muslim-Arab bogeyman with a suicide vest hiding under the beds of white middle America does more political work for conservatives than a mature discussion of the significant dangers posed by white right-wing radicals and terrorists in the “sovereign citizens” and militia movements.
White privilege also deems that certain questions will not be asked about the Crusaders and its nefarious plans to kill Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas.
What are people like Allen, Wright and Stein learning in their churches and other places of worship? Are the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security monitoring those sites?
Who radicalized Allen, Wright and Stein?
What role does Fox News, the Republican Party and the right-wing media play in teaching white Christians like Allen, Wright and Stein to hate Muslims?
Where were Allen, Wright and Stein’s family members and neighbors? Are they aiding and abetting them? Why didn’t they call the police earlier?
Given that 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is openly hostile toward Muslims, should he be held responsible for encouraging violence and terrorism against that community?
It is no coincidence that the Crusaders' terrorist attack was planned for Nov. 9 — the day after the election. The political movement of fascist Donald Trump has normalized political violence in contemporary American politics. Allen, Wright and Stein’s plan to kill Somali immigrants in Garden City is a reflection of that reality.
At his rallies, Trump extols the virtues of such behavior. Like a political thug in a banana republic, Trump threatens to put Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, in prison if he wins the presidency. Moreover, Trump’s supporters have even been recorded threatening Clinton’s life. Trump’s foot soldiers have attacked Black Lives Matter and other protesters and sucker punched an elderly woman in the face at a rally in North Carolina. Armed Trump minions have also pointed guns at protesters.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the question is not “will there be blood on Election Day and thereafter?” but rather how much blood will be spilled by Trump and the basket of human deplorables — a rabble that includes terrorists — over which he wields control like a political Rasputin.