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Dylann Roof, Homegrown Terrorists and the New America Foundation

Indians know stereotypes and Indians know terrorism. ISIS is evil, but ISIS is not the primary danger to our families.

Indians know terrorism. It permeates our history of clashes with the invaders. Having been victimized by terrorists, Indians generally are easily outraged about video beheadings and strapping bombs on women and children. Many Indians have signed up to fight that brand of terrorism that flies under a false flag of religion. Because the media erase distance, and because of periodic attacks and attempted attacks in the U.S. and Canada, it feels like military service is defense of home and hearth.

Recently, we got a dose of terrorism closer to home when Dylann Storm Roof killed nine people gathered in a Charleston, South Carolina church for Bible study. Roof expressed the purpose to ignite a race war. He failed spectacularly when the primary political impact of the murders was to awaken white politicians to the impact of the state sponsoring the same racist symbols Roof flaunted on line and to bring the white and black communities in South Carolina closer together.

Last year, there was another close brush with domestic terrorists over land that rightfully remains Indian treaty land in Nevada. Cliven Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years, and when federal authorities moved to impound his cattle, his squeals of pain brought armed “patriots” from all over to confront the government. After some very scary video showing para-military fanatics on an overpass with federal officers below in their gun sights, the feds decided correctly that a few cows were not worth bloodshed and backed off temporarily.

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The groups prepared to kill over grazing fees were not uniformly white supremacists, but there is plenty of overlap with the KKK, neo-Nazis, and other right wing loons with agendas always opposed to Indians’ interests. Some light surfing on the right wing temple of the World Wide Web, Stormfront, easily shows this.

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Into this cauldron of violence comes a report by the New America Foundation that uses actual numbers to compare the danger we face from radical Islamists to the danger we face from the home grown believers in white supremacy and disbelievers in the federal government. While we already knew there was a substantial home grown terrorist body count and the events in South Carolina added to it, the comparison to radical Islamic terror had never been made.

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The South Carolina killings aggravated a statistic that really should be better known than it is. Since September 11, 2001, 74 people in the U.S. have been killed in terrorist incidents. Radical Muslim jihadists have made seven successful attacks taking 26 lives. What about the rest?

Racist and anti-government terrorists have made 19 successful attacks taking 48 lives. Since Osama bin Laden’s crowning “achievement” on September 11, 2001, U.S. residents are almost three times as likely to die from acts of domestic terrorism driven by home grown ideology.

The point here is not to ignore the much larger body count from radical Islam in the Middle East—where most of the dead identified as Muslims, for those who think it’s really about religion—and nothing could mitigate the horror of the young Jordanian pilot burned alive on video. Even the destruction of UNESCO World Heritage Sites by ISIS is a breathtaking evil, just a notch below the killings.

The only point is that the immediate threat to our families originates right here in North America. If Indians know terrorism, we also know stereotypes, and terrorist threats since 9-11 carry the stereotype of a bearded Arab when convicted Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are more representative of reality on the ground.

The incident in the New America study with the biggest body count is the 2009 Ft. Hood shooter, who killed 13 for the radical Islam side of the ledger. Dylann Roof is second, under the banner of white supremacy.

Of course, most of the gunshot deaths in the U.S.—expected to total 33,000 this year compared to the worst terrorist strike on 9-11 with a body count of about 3,000---have nothing to do with terrorism of any stripe.

The Virginia Tech shootings, the Colorado movie theater shootings, the Navy Yard shootings, the Connecticut elementary school shootings and right on back through the McDonald’s shootings and the University of Texas tower shootings all involved severely disturbed individuals who the NRA has decided must be allowed to go armed so we can go armed as well. With Congress buffaloed by the NRA, the only defense allowed against crazy people with guns is that all sane people are expected to carry guns of their own.

Crazy people and arming them bear some responsibility for terrorism in the sense of making people terrified to go about their lives. In the sense of killing innocent people to further a political cause, it’s good to keep track of which causes draw the most terrorists so those causes can suffer the consequences in public opinion, as Dylann Roof has.

The New America study teaches that white supremacists and radical anti-government groups originate more killings in the U.S. than radical Islam. The homegrown terrorists, arguing on line, counter that New America “cherry picks” by starting their analysis after 9-11 because starting it before 9-11 would show a different result.

One of several responses to the charge of cherry picking by time frame is that the KKK alone killed nearly 4,000 African-Americans in their terror campaign for white supremacy between 1877 and 1950. That time frame fails to account for the killings during the modern Civil Rights Movement and for organizations in addition to the KKK. And there is simply no way to account for the killings of American Indians over and above the deaths by disease.

It’s hard to imagine how the figures could be massaged to make radical Islam a bigger threat than white supremacy. Popular culture in the U.S. makes Indians out to be the terrorists but the body counts over the years do not support the stereotype and the truth of the matter runs from Sand Creek and the Washita right up to the end of the shooting Indian wars at Wounded Knee.

Indians know stereotypes and Indians know terrorism. ISIS is evil, but ISIS is not the primary danger to our families.

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