A heavily armed white man launched what appeared to be an act of terror Monday morning in Dallas on the anniversary of the shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where another white gunman left nine parishioners dead in racially motivated killings four years ago. The latest instance of domestic terrorism at the hands of a white male shouldn’t have surprised anyone, least of tall he FBI, which announced a few weeks ago that its seen what CNN described as “a significant rise in the number of white supremacist domestic terrorism cases in recent months.”
The shooting by the unidentified gunman in Dallas took place at the city’s federal courthouse, where civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt said he handles most of his cases. His was among the most recent voice bringing attention to the “need” for “a specific national strategy designed to address the ongoing threat represented by White Male Domestic Terrorism IMMEDIATELY!”
Not only did the gunman, armed with an apparent machine gun, shoot up the Earle Cabell Federal Building, he may have also had some explosives in his car nearby. The scene in Dallas was eerily similar to that in Oklahoma City when Timothy McVeigh detonated explosives at a municipal building in 1995. But what seemed like an anomaly nearly 25 years ago has all but become the rule for whenever terroristic activity takes place on American soil by U.S. citizens as the culprits are more times than not white and male.
And even though this type of activity has been on the rise for almost a quarter of a century, as Esquire reminded readers earlier this month, “the Department of Justice cannot label such acts as terrorism because there is no law under which they can do it.”
That’s the reason why three white men were each sentenced in January to at least 25 years in prison for plotting to kill Somali-American Muslim immigrants in Kansas. And while the attorney general there called the verdict “a significant victory against hate crimes and domestic terrorism,” the men were not convicted under any terrorism law.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act expands “the type of conduct that the government can investigate when it is investigating ‘terrorism’” but “does not create a new crime of domestic terrorism.”
That seemed to suggest that there are no programs in place to monitor the radicalization of white American males, in particular. That was true even though the FBI has kept a running file on so-called “Black Identity Extremists” as legitimate terror threats despite white males actually posing much more of a threat.
Aside from Dallas on Monday, other recent examples of white men committing domestic terrorism include Stephen Paddock’s massacre in Las Vegas (the president famously refused to call him a terrorist); Gregory Alan Bush, who targeted and killed two Black people in a supermarket parking lot after unsuccessfully accessing a Black church nearby to likely do the same; Christopher Paul Hasson, a high-ranking U.S. Coast Guard officer who had stockpiled weapons and had a target list that included elected officials and presidential candidates; and Cesar Sayok, who was arrested last year for mailing pipe bombs to critics of Donald Trump.
With the mounting evidence of a full-blown epidemic when it comes to domestic terrorism by white men, perhaps its time for the FBI to start a file on white men who could pose a terroristic threat or for Congress to pass a domestic terrorism law, or both.