Lazy Saturday Reads: Mary Cassatt’s Mothers and Children (Plus News)Posted: December 5, 2015
The best way to have a happy weekend might be to go into a cocoon and isolate yourself from the outside world and the ugly things that are happening in it. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it. I’ve become addicted to knowing what’s going on out there.
What has really been bugging me for the past couple of days is the way law enforcement agencies and the media refuse to label even horrendously violent acts like the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs “terrorism.”
It seems the only events that get that designation are those involving Muslim attackers. In my estimation a violent attack that kills and injures a number of people and “terrifies” the surrounding community should be called terrorism, because that’s exactly what it is.
How can the attacks on abortion clinics not be “terrorism” when they obviously are designed specifically to frighten doctors, nurses, and other health care workers into not getting involved in reproductive health care and women into not having abortions?
What is “Terrorism” and What Isn’t?
Here’s the official explanation from NPR: Why the Planned Parenthood shooting isn’t legally referred to as ‘domestic terrorism.’
To some in the community, the attack resembled an act of domestic terrorism, sparking a debate over what to call Robert Lewis Dear’s rampage even before he was taken into custody.
But the legal system may not resolve that question.
Dear faces state charges of first-degree murder, and the federal criminal code has no specific, catchall charge for acts of domestic terrorism. That means federal prosecutors pursuing charges for ideologically motivated violence often turn to other statutes — such as those for firearms, explosives, hate crimes or murder — to cover offenses that could arguably be labeled as terror. The punishment may be the same, but generally without the branding more typically associated with international terrorism.
“There has long been some interest in defining acts of domestic terrorism as terrorism. It’s become quite a partisan issue,” said William Yeomans, an American University law fellow and former high-ranking official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
But given the number of laws already available to federal prosecutors, he added, “Whether it’s domestic terrorism or not, it doesn’t really matter.”
Well then the definition needs to be changed, because focusing only on acts by people of one particular religion–Islam–is going to lead to terrorist attacks against Muslims, whether they get the label “terrorism” from the FBI or not. Saying it doesn’t matter is just plain stupid. It matters.
I didn’t need to know a thing about Syed Rizwan Farook’s and Tashfeen Malik’s religious beliefs or political ideologies to know that this was an act of terrorism, because I fail to understand how we can legally define one or more people picking up weapons and opening fire on civilians as anythingbut an act of terror, irrespective of their reasons.
(Unless it happens in a war zone, in which case it is a war crime and an act of terror.)
And I have a real goddamn problem with the fact that it only became “officially” an act of terrorism once they were connected to a particular religion and particular ideology, but had it been another religion and another ideology, it just would have been the inexplicable actions of mad people.
This selective elevation to a terrorist act of only certain religions and ideologies is harmful. And the people it harms the most are those who broadly share identifying traits with the elevated terrorists.
Our government is being deeply hypocritical when it urges bigots not to blame all Muslims for acts of terror committed by Muslims, but refuses to identify as acts of terror the same sort of crimes committed, for the same ugly reasons, by Christians. If the government doesn’t want all Muslims smeared as terrorists, then it needs to stop limiting to Muslims its elevation to terrorism of religiously-motivated mass murder
Here’s another example. This white guy isn’t a threat to anyone, according to law enforcement.
He had a fake federal air marshal ID in one pocket, a Ruger .380-caliber pistol in the other and was driving around Long Island with ballistic body armor and a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. He also had an arsenal of weapons at his gated home.
But don’t worry folks, Mark Vicars wasn’t a threat to anyone, Nassau County officials insisted Friday.
The amount of firepower is comparable to what terror couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had during the massacre they committed Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif.
“At this time we don’t see any immediate threat to the public,” Nassau County Police Department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun told reporters.
Seven illegal firearms, three high-capacity magazines and 8,300 rounds of ammunition were found in the 49-year-old’s SUV and Syosset home after an exhaustive search, police confirmed.
Yet cops don’t believe that Vicars was up to anything nefarious — except for masquerading as a federal agent.
“We don’t see any nexus to any terrorism at this time,” LeBrun said, adding that no anti-American literature or links to terrorism were found at his home.
This idiotic labeling situation must be remedied, and we need to pressure our elected representatives and the White House to get it done.
The Media Sucks
Anyway, the media clearly has forgotten about the people who were killed and injured by a fanatic in Colorado Springs, because they now have Muslim attackers and their families to examine in disgusting detail.
In their rush to get “scoops,” MSNBC forced their way (along with other reporters) into the apartment that was occupied by the two deceased shooters in the San Bernardino massacre and showed images of personal property and information belonging to family members on live TV.
In a surreal scene, a swarm of local and national media entered the apartment where San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik lived after the landlord tore off a piece of plywood that was blocking the door.
News outlets, including MSNBC, BBC, CBS News and CNN, broadcast live scenes as reporters toting cameras and microphones pushed through the open door and reported from inside the apartment in Redlands, California.
One MSNBC reporter was seen examining items left on the suspects’ desk, at one point picking up a child-rearing book. CNN journalists described seeing driver’s licenses, social security cards and shredded documents inside the residence. A group of photographers zeroed in on a pile of papers that were laid out on a bed.
What the hell?!
Another camera crew panned over a crib; the couple had a 6-month-old daughter. A CNN correspondent picked up prayer beads.
It appeared that members of the public were inside the apartment as well. One man lingered holding a large soda. A child was seen wandering throughout the home. Another opened the refrigerator and peered inside.
MSNBC even showed ID cards and family photographs on camera. According to the landlord, he didn’t invite the media in. “They rushed,” he said. Fortunately, the FBI later said they had cleared the apartment and it was no longer an active crime scene.
Slate’s Justin Peters says that good reporters should grab opportunities like this one, but still had some harsh words for MSNBC.
During the walk through the apartment, which producers said was opened to the media by the couple’s landlord, a NBC News reporter held up photos of unidentified children, a bank document, and a driver’s license on live television.
As MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders walked through the apartment, where police had earlier recovered 12 pipe bombs and more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition, he expressed disbelief that the killers would have toys and stuffed animals for their young child.
The apartment was crowded by camera crews and other journalists all digging through the home. Sanders eventually found a pile of family photos, including what appeared to be passport photos of an unidentified woman, which he promptly suggested were the first images of Malik seen by the public.
“I’m going to guess these are the photographs of Malik. So this is the first – this may be – OK,” he said on air. “But we don’t know. We don’t know if that’s her.”
Andrea Mitchell encouraged Sanders to hold one photo up and get a “tight shot” of other pictures, including a portrait of a woman in traditional dress, as Sanders continued to guess where and for what occasion the photos were taken.
“Let’s make sure we don’t see the children, let’s not show the child,” a clearly uncomfortable Mitchell eventually interjected. “Let’s cut away from that.”
In a bedroom where credit cards and IDs were shown spread out on a bed, the camera quickly zoomed in on a California driver’s license. MSNBC did not appear to blur out a woman’s personal details as Sanders read the name on the driver’s license.
I think I’m going to be sick. MSNBC “apologized” after it was too late to protect innocent children and other family members who were not involved in the shooting. TPM:
After MSNBC treated viewers on Friday to a live look inside the San Bernardino shooters’ apartment, the network said they “regret” showing photos of children and identification cards during the live broadcast.
While the apartment was thick with camera crews and journalists all rifling through Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeem Malik’s Redlands, California home, MSNBC was the most heavily criticized for its broadcast. NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders showed close-up photos of children and held up a women’s driver’s license during the live shot.
Read the statement at TPM if you’re interested.
I’ll add some more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?