We saw double standards in the responses to Saturday’s Charlottesville terrorism. The identity and motivation of the culprit(s) determined the reaction.
Apparently, politicians and law enforcement have one set of standards when the terrorists are Nazis. They respond in a different way when the terrorists claim Islam as a motivation.
Those who commit acts of terror need to be dealt with equally. Unfortunately, right from the top, we see differing reactions.
Double Standards from Politicians
President Trump, in responding to Charlottesville, did not come right out and condemn the Nazis. (I am not going to use the euphemism of “alt-right”). His statement condemned the actions of “many sides.” But Trump would not blame the Nazis. Nor would he call it an act of domestic terror.
Not surprisingly, people condemned Trump’s wishy-washy statement. Rightly, people pointed to his clarity when it came to condemning acts of terror by Islamists. A few Republicans, like Senators John McCain and Cory Gardner, were clearer in their condemnations.
Most Republicans stayed quiet. For them, Nazis and those of their kind are part of their base of support. No wonder, these Republicans zip their lips to keep their seats safe.
If the driver of the car in Charlottesville had a name like Abdul or Mohammed, Republicans would have been all over the news. They would be calling on all Muslims to apologize for the actions of one or a few. There would have been calls for expulsion, pre-emptive detention, bans and so on.
Since politicians make laws and guide law enforcement, it is not surprising the double standards extend to law enforcement.
Double Standards of Law Enforcement
Does race play a role in the response of law enforcement? White people can walk around carrying serious guns. Even after shooting or injuring people, police treat a white person with kid gloves. But even a perceived threat from a black or brown person can get him or her shot.
The disparity also seems to extend to the charges. If you’re white and commit mass violence, you will likely have murder charges. But if you’re Muslim, you will get a terrorism charge.
One rationale cited for this is the law on terrorism. Under the relevant section, terrorism has to include not only the act but also the desired end. This end has to “intimidate or coerce” civilians and influence the government.
So white people walking around with guns to protest the removal of Confederate statues are not intimidating or coercing civilians? Think of the panicked 911 calls, and police reaction, if black or brown people were to walk around any city carrying AK-47s.
Are many local governments going to be courageous enough to remove Confederate statues in the wake of Charlottesville? Local governments may rather let sleeping dogs lie. Is that not influencing governments?
In Charlottesville, the use of the car to plow into people and the violence of the marches were acts of domestic terror.
Both politicians and law enforcement should not hesitate to go after violence committed by anyone, for any reason. There should be no double standards in reacting to terrorism.