In this installment of Weekend Conversation, PF Whalen and Parker Beauregard of The Blue State Conservative view the Christmas explosion in Nashville through the lens of domestic terrorism and look down the road at existing threats as well as potential threats.
Parker: More information continues to come out that contextualizes the events of the Nashville bombing on Christmas Day. The suspected bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, was an older white male with apparent knowledge of technology, electronics, as well as a recent interest in bomb making, at least per a few sources that cite his girlfriend acknowledging he looked into explosives online. There is no known motive at this time, but given the advanced warning system in place, it seems likely that a message, or even just destruction for destruction’s sake, was more important than taking lives. Still, terrorism doesn’t need to inflict bodily harm. It only needs to threaten it.
Suffice to say, there are a few camps of domestic terrorism within the United States. Will we begin to see more of each of these groups terrorize Americans through violence and destruction? The first could best be seen through the blast in Nashville. Warner joins a long list of older, lone wolf, white males with no obvious penchant for mass murder or mayhem. Similarly, Stephen Paddock was 64 when he unleashed over 1,000 rounds from a Las Vegas hotel, killing 60, wounding 411, and causing over 800 total casualties from the ensuing chaos. White males comprise basically one-third of the entire American population (some 115 million), so it is almost impossible not to find a few that commit heinous acts each year or every few years.
There is then the one-off of the older white male, the younger white male. Mass shootings in the summer of 2019 took place within a week of each other in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The shooters were 21 and 24 years old, respectively. Add other mass shootings from Dylan Roof in South Carolina, Nikolas Cruz at a Florida high school, Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook, and even as far back as Columbine, and the archetype of a troubled, disaffected, quiet loner is created. Even though the news will often try to portray these lone acts of terrorism as being inspired by politics, such as when Jared Loughner shot at then-Representative Gabby Giffords in a Tucson, Arizona parking lot, most acts are seemingly apolitical. They are men without a cause as much as men without a home. They often suffer from mental illness, depression, and/or social isolation.
PF: First, I must say: the events in your statements are all factual, and no one will raise an eyebrow when reading them, but there’s something interesting about them. If the facts showed that the perpetrators were from any group other than white men, your comments would be viewed as racist, or sexist, or both; facts be damned. It’s sad, but true.
Obviously, the individuals you mentioned are wholly responsible for their actions. If it turns out that Warner’s actions were somehow influenced by a Joe Biden or Donald Trump speech, it’s not on Biden or Trump, it’s on Anthony Warner. When Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was almost killed when he was shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter at a Congressional Baseball game in 2017, Sanders was not responsible, the shooter was. Personal responsibility is fundamental. Unless someone was actively encouraging violence, or in some way facilitating Warner’s actions, they are not responsible. Nonetheless, if we want to prevent similar acts like this one in the future we need to understand what drives such behavior.
We should probably expect some negative feedback from folks for using the term “domestic terrorism,” but so be it. If we call what happened in Las Vegas a “mass shooting,” does it make it any better? Any worse? Besides, I’m not sure what label would work better. The real question is how do we stop these attacks from happening? We may be getting ahead of ourselves since details of the incident are still very sketchy, but it seems probable that what you suggest ends being the root cause: mental illness.
Assuming mental illness is what drove the bomber, there are no easy answers. The line between addressing someone’s mental illness in the name of public safety and infringing on that individual’s civil liberties can be very blurry. There is one thing of which I am certain, however. The attitude towards mental illness by our public officials has to change. Turning a blind eye to it doesn’t work, but that seems to be the go-to approach for our politicians.
Parker: I led with the Nashville bombing, not only because it is in the current news cycle, but because I wanted to point out how it is easy to write off another white guy as a threat to society while being – like you mentioned – so taboo to approach the matter when it comes to, say, Black Lives Matter or Islamic fundamentalists. It is easy for news outlets to attack white men as being the problem in society, but they are far from the largest demographic (either as individuals or entire ethnicities) that commit most violent acts of hate and violence.
Let’s set a baseline. What is the definition of terrorism? There are a few; according to a quick internet search, they are:
· The use of violence or the threat of violence, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political goals.
· Resort to terrorizing methods as a means of coercion, or the state of fear and submission produced by the prevalence of such methods.
· The act of terrorizing, or state of being terrorized; a mode of government by terror or intimidation.
To make this more applicable, the additional definition of domestic terrorism is “terrorism practiced in your own country by your own people.”
By these definitions, it becomes challenging to write off Anthony Quinn Warner and Stephen Paddock as terrorists. What was their political agenda? Insofar as we can tell, there is none. Often with these white boys and men, there is less a stated purpose as much as there is a desire to harm a society they feel wronged by. It doesn’t make their actions any less insidious, but mass shooting or serial murdering is not the same as terrorism.
That being said, what about Black Lives Matter and Antifa? Look at the first bullet point: Do they use violence? Do they have political goals? Yes, on both accounts. Look at the second bullet point: Do they try to coerce and force submission of competing viewpoints and actions? Absolutely, yes again. By definition – and this is important, because it’s not my opinion so much as it is merely the facts – Black Lives Matter and Antifa are domestic terrorist organizations.
PF: Anyone from BLM would surely disagree with that statement, but they might still perhaps point the finger at Antifa. At this point, it’s difficult for me to distinguish between the two. It’s more likely, however, they would say, “Violence? What violence.” They have a complicit media covering up the brutality, and a Democratic Party who generally refuses to admit Antifa even exists.
For example, this past summer when anarchists established their so-called “autonomous zone” in Seattle, calling it CHAZ or CHOP, it was clear that the group was either part of Antifa or at least closely affiliated with the group. The Left and their media applauded them while totally ignoring the violence. Media reports focused on the vegetable garden they had begun, along with the live music they played, while Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan likened the whole situation to a “block party.”
Meanwhile, the level of violence was outrageous. There were at least five people who were shot during that period, two of whom died. Additionally, the “protesters” threw rocks and bottles at police, flashed handheld lasers in the eyes of those police, and broke windows, looted, and harassed passersby. That sounds like it meets the definition of domestic terrorism, but Democrats and their media just shrugged their shoulders.
Regardless of what, if anything, motivated the Nashville bomber, if we want to get a handle on domestic terrorism, the media and government officials have to be honest with us and with themselves. Calling riots peaceful doesn’t help the situation. What’s particularly worrisome is the prospect that they may view the events of this past summer as a success and consider them as a roadmap for the future. They effectively scared the crap out of a lot of people, they blamed it all on President Trump, and Joe Biden won the election. Why wouldn’t they use that strategy as a blueprint moving forward?
Parker: To that last point, they absolutely influenced voters. No doubt many wondered what kind of violence awaited their communities if Trump won a second term. We all saw the pictures and videos of entire city blocks being boarded up, including in our nation’s capital. Does anyone really think those were to protect windows and storefronts from Trump voters? The scale of destruction from Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other losers that loomed over the country cannot be understated.
Coverage from legacy media outlets will get worse before it gets better. The Proud Boys made the biggest waves most recently, but they have absolutely no influence on the greater culture. I also couldn’t find any news articles citing them as being responsible for a single death, murder, looting episode, or large-scale riots. And yet they were the boogeymen – even with a Hispanic leading the cause. The same cannot be said of either BLM or Antifa.
Looking ahead, I see Black Lives Matter and Antifa gaining both size and influence in the next four years, not necessarily because they are worthy of either, but because their actions will continue to go unchecked. Politicians, especially Democrats, are terrified of questioning or calling out even the craziest among them. How many times was Trump asked to condemn white nationalists? Now, how many times has Joe Biden been asked to condemn riots and looting initiated by the two aforementioned terrorist organizations?
I thought more Americans would wake up to the utter chaos this past summer and connect it with leftist groups. I was wrong. What will it take for Americans to realize that all of the rightfully-hated right-wing groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis have companionship with left-wing hate groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa?
PF: Last week we talked about looking forward to 2021 and one of the topics we considered was what will be happening to our culture this year. I hope you’re wrong about BLM and Antifa increasing their strength, but I can certainly understand that sentiment. If they are to decrease in relevance, the truth will need to bypass the mainstream media, which is possible, and the reality of their ideals will need to come to light.
Antifa are in fact anarchists, and in many respects pro-fascists. Black Lives Matter was founded by Marxists and could not care less about black lives. Both groups are simply America-hating radicals, and nothing more.
Fortunately, we’ve been kept relatively safe from domestic terrorism – and terrorism in general – for several years now… knock on wood. We haven’t had another 9/11, we haven’t had another Oklahoma City, and Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump deserve credit for providing that safety. And before anyone starts hollering about Obama having helped lay the groundwork for BLM and Antifa, I agree, but we have to give him credit for keeping us safe from a catastrophe. Also, while I understand why some people are already taking the stance regarding Joe Biden of “Not my president,” I strongly disagree. It was wrong when people said it about President Trump, and it will be wrong if people say it about Joe Biden.
If Biden’s inaugurated as our president on 1/20/21, there are things we need him to succeed at, and protecting us from domestic terrorism is one of them. He’s going to need to open his eyes and take off his rose-colored glasses; but succeed he must. We should oppose all aspects of his leftist agenda, and we should look to thoroughly defeat him and his party in the 2022 and 2024 elections, but when it comes to our national security, we need him to be effective and he will need our support.