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Why Does the Media Refuse to Call White Murderers Terrorists?
Robert Dear's murders at a Planned Parenthood are only the latest in a long string of terrorist attacks by Americans.
In the aftermath of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, one thing absent from the media was any mention of 57-year-old shooter Robert Dear being labeled a terrorist. Same goes for the Charleston Church shooting. This is in stark contrast to the Paris shootings, in which, before any information whatsoever was available, media (and social media) streams were preemptively deluged with the term.
America has long suffered from fear of the "other," even though, as explained in this insightful piece on the supposed "happy native" origins of Thanksgiving, Europeans were quite the terrorists:
This is not revisionist history. ... This is history that’s just been overlooked because people have become very, very comfortable with the story of happy Pilgrims and friendly Indians. They’re very content with that — even to the point where no one really questioned how is it that Squanto knew how to speak perfect English when they came.
We don’t have to look back centuries to discover examples. Contemplating the current Syrian refugee crisis and America’s role in accepting any, I’ve seen more than a few people conjure Japanese internment camps. That horrific chapter in our history was part of a larger wave that began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917, and the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. Slowly our government closed our doors in fear of anything dangerous entering.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was overturned in 1943, but it took until 1965 to lift restrictions on the rest of Asia with the Immigration and Nationality Act. Pressure from human rights groups forced the government to overturn long-standing prejudices — decisions that could potentially be overturned yet again if a Republican were to win the presidency next year.
But our prejudices are not necessarily wiped clean through legislation; in fact, sometimes those fires are stoked when politicians enact anything progressive. Still, this feels like a fringe, although one with a voice, as much of the current hard right (and, in universities, hard left) banter proves. On one side, we’d return to excluding all immigrants; on the other, the mere mention of anything not politically perfect is assaulted in the most ironic free speech attack of our era.
Thus our current target: Islam. There is warrant for this. The more liberal of liberals are agitated when Sam Harris and Bill Maher recommend taking a serious look at what the religion is preaching while championing well-meaning, although shortsighted apologists like Reza Aslan. Nuance abounds on both sides. A predominant number of Muslims are not to blame, although that does not give the religion a free pass from criticism.
Likewise, neither does Christianity. This seems to be something not even forgotten, but never even entertained. The Bible is a murderous, vengeful book fueled by an impenetrable deity. Unlike the gods of Greece and India with their all-too-human characteristics, relationships, and follies, this God admits so little of himself and lays on so much criticism of humans it’s hard to imagine developing any sort of camaraderie with him. The biblical God is a lonely, self-ostracized crank. Perhaps our tribal inclinations should not surprise given this.
We separate through language. Killing for Allah will immediately (and rightly) award you the term terrorist. Killing for God — which, honestly, is the harbinger to Islam’s invisible friend — credits you with crazy, lonely, depressed, neurological; just never the "T" word. Take religion out of the picture: Killing for an idea is, at root, an act of terror. Killing for the sake of it, rare although possible, is also terrorism. You’ve committed an act of terror on others.
As long as our media refuses to label homegrown terrorism what it is, our language gulf remains wide. This functions to not let us see the "other" in ourselves. Thus we debate the shooter's psychological problems and whatever prescriptions he was taking, which has the added inevitable benefit of distracting us from actual gun legislation. Loopholes would have to immediately be addressed if we started labeling Americans terrorists, as would investigating our sordid centuries-old history of excluding anyone not "us."
None of that changes the fact that these are terrorists in our midst. I’m much more likely to die from the idiot on the road who feels that texting while driving is acceptable than from a dirty bomb, but that story is not sexy or fear-inducing. Perhaps it will take, as actor Wendell Pierce recently mentioned on Twitter, a different perspective on how we go about business as usual in America:
If every Black male 18-35 applied for a conceal & carry permit, and then joined NRA in one day; there would be gun control laws in a second.
Whatever Dear and Dylann Roof's motives, they committed acts of terrorism. Killing for nationalism or religious beliefs is to terrorize those who you harm. Calling it by any other name is ludicrous. If we refuse to acknowledge the other in ourselves, we’ll always be scared at the slightest glimpse of our shadow.
Image: PYMCA / Getty
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.