Thursday, February 16, 2017

How White Privilege is Coded Into Law


You know how it's super weird that no matter how many times or how blatantly white U.S. citizens commit acts of domestic terrorism, they never get brought up on actual terrorism charges? "Pro-life" people who bomb reproductive health clinics to try and scare people out of performing abortions or going/working there at all. White supremacists who conduct organized terror campaigns against immigrants, people of color, Jewish communities, etc. Islamophobes trying to run Muslim people out of town by bombing/setting fire to their places of worship.

As it turned out, a lawyer working on a case of that last example has explained why these people are never charged with terrorism.

Tennessee man who plotted New York mosque attack won’t face terrorism charges

"There's a gap in the law," attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud told the Daily News on Monday evening. "Frankly, there is nothing on terrorism unless it's connected to a foreign element. You won't see the KKK charged with domestic terror even though that's what they do." 
According to the Patriot Act from 2001, prosecutors can only charge a defendant with domestic terrorism if he or she had the intension to "intimidate" or "coerce" a civilian population, or influence the "policy of a government" to affect the conduct of government by "mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping." 
Contrastingly, Amatul-Wadud claimed, the requirements are less stringent for pursuing terrorism charges if the alleged act has a foreign element to it, for example ties to international terror networks such as ISIS or al-Qaeda.

So because Tennessee man is white and because Islamophobia certainly isn't foreign to the U.S., he gets let off with a relative slap on the wrist instead of spending the rest of his life in prison. Even though he was literally plotting and gathering people together to burn down a mosque in a community that contained a high Muslim population, which he referred to as "Islamberg."

It's not just prosecutors being racist, though plenty of them surely are. Racism and Islamophobia are coded into our terrorism laws. Our laws are designed to make it easy to charge people of color and immigrants with terrorism and hard to charge white non-immigrants with the same. It was this way even before Trump signed an executive order to make the government's anti-terrorism efforts only focus on Muslims.

Fuck this country.

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