An American white supremacist, James Von Brunn, entered the Holocaust Museum with a rifle and opened fire. The octogenarian was shot and taken to the hospital in critical condition but not before firing shots which eventually killed a guard in the museum.
It is easy to be appalled at the news that someone, an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, would walk into such a museum and threaten the lives of guards and others inside.
What is not so easy is considering the act within the context of our understanding of terrorism. But, we must. In fact, it is imperative to our future as a society.
Should Our Understanding Begin with 9/11?
After September 11th, our reaction was a combination of disbelief, horror, and fear. Americans asked who did this and why did this happen. We became enraged and the government enlisted our rage in a battle against the tactic that those involved in the action had used against America.
Americans then encouraged and let their friends and family join wars in the Middle East; first, in Afghanistan and later, in Iraq.
Both wars violated international law and our Constitution, and both were borne out of fear that others who think differently than us and who look different from us and who hate what we stand for would somehow from their impoverished country come and attack and possibly take down the supreme superpower in the world.
Many Americans have gallantly and heroically fought what they believe to be a “war on terror,” but the truth is that battle has not begun. We cannot seriously believe that we have taken any steps to defeat terrorism because the harsh reality is that terrorism, up to this point, has held captive America.
Since we let Bush tell us we didn’t have to make any sacrifices and all we needed to do was go shopping, we’ve been held captive.
Since we let the Department of Homeland Security be formed in addition to the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation that already existed, we’ve been held captive.
Since we let the NSA engage in warrantless wiretapping and suspend the writ of habeas corpus whenever they deem it necessary, we’ve been held captive.
Since we allowed for a color-coded terror alert system to be created which would get inside of our minds each time we were in an airport waiting to fly somewhere, we’ve been held captive.
Since we let airport security be ramped up to “protect” America, since we decided it was okay to have to go hours early to take off our belts, shoes, empty our pockets, dispose of our water bottles and soaps, shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, and any other substance that might be a liquid or powder before boarding the airplane, since we agreed to unreasonable searches and seizures in order to “protect” our so-called freedom, we’ve been held captive.
And, since we agreed that our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives had to deploy overseas in the Middle East to fight the terrorists there so we didn’t have to fight them here, we’ve been held captive.
That was what they---the terrorists---wanted, right? The “terrorists” wanted us to battle them and get bogged down in war and we did and we continue and in fact, the hope and change we voted for in November is moving supplemental funding to continue these wars as we speak so unfortunately the terrorists will continue to get what they want.