Why the silence on right-wing extremism?

What comes to your mind when hearing the word terrorism?

Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.

Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.

What comes to your mind when hearing the word terrorism?

I wouldn’t be sticking my neck out too far to assume imagery of the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL or the Iraq War pass through many minds at the mention of the phrase.

A study recently released by the New America Foundation has uncovered some timely information in the aftermath of the Charleston shootings.

According to the study, since Sept. 11, 2001 the total number of people killed in the U.S. by deadly jihadist attacks is 26, while the amount of people killed by deadly right-wing attacks is 48.

We all clearly remember the 2012 Sikh Temple shooting, right? Well for those who don’t, on Aug. 5, 2012 Wade Michael Page killed six people in a Wisconsin Sikh temple. Page was found to be related to neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Or how about the 2014 Kansas Jewish Center Shooting? Not ringing a bell? Frazier Glenn Cross was arrested on April 13, 2014 and charged with murder in two shootings that took place in Jewish institutions in Kansas City. Cross was found to have connections with white supremacist movements and founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan as well as the White Patriot Party.

Cross appeared in court two weeks ago after firing his lawyers. He filed a motion calling for an acquittal on all charges, and in the document he said his actions were not a crime, but a “homicide by necessity” fighting what he called the Jewish control of the government, media and banks.

The white supremacist tendencies of alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof are coming to light as well.

So why, with nearly double the amount of deaths, is right-wing extremism not getting twice the amount of attention? This information breaks the narrative I’ve been hearing since adults struggled to explain the 9/11 attacks and subsequent war to me as a teenager.

The impact of these narrative-breaking facts is more than things not being the way we thought they were. That kind of thing happens all the time through the smoke and mirrors of politics and international relations, this is a narrative that got presidents re-elected (cough, Bush, cough), terror legislation passed and most importantly, started wars that continue to destroy a region many are willing to brush off as too far away too care.

It’s OK though, only 150 years after the civil war American politicians are finally starting to talk about taking the blatantly racist Confederate flag down from in front of the state house. It only took the death of nine innocent church-goers to get there.

It’s damning this issue is so scarcely talked about, and that right-wing politics has such an easy time creating straw men to start a war. Where’s the war on Christian nations? Obviously we have to lump in the religion with it’s most extreme examples of radicals, or else it wouldn’t be fair to the Muslim nations.

This right-wing extremism isn’t just exclusive to our neighbours to the south either.

A 2014 study entitled Right-wing Extremism in Canada authored by James O. Ellis and Richard Parent explores the issue north of the border.

Right-wing organizations, most sharing some affiliation with Christianity, like the Sons of Freedom or the Ku Klux Klan have operated in Canada and the study says “there has been a consistent level of right-wing extremism in Canada since World War II.”

You’ve probably never heard of the Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team, I hadn’t, but one of their members was charged with uttering death threats and counselling to commit murder via a declaration of war against all London-based Jews and Muslims in September 2001.

A B.C. man was convicted of building a pipe bomb that was planted in a highway restroom in northeastern B.C. in 1999. He told a reporter at the time he was motivated by “certain political views.” Better start flying the drones over the Fort St. John.

An attempted murder of an abortion doctor by stabbing in Vancouver was claimed by the unknown group the Baby Liberation Army in 2000. Three years earlier a sniper attempted the murder of an abortion doctor in Winnipeg. Where was the public rally to launch a war on Christian groups for harbouring these extremists? Where was the graffiti on Christian churches telling them to ‘go home’ wherever that would be?

Stephen Harper recently said he was “disgusted” by the actions of ISIS and that Canada is not going to sit on the sidelines. Yet the PM tweets that his heart goes out to the victims of the Boston Bombings, the people of Jordan, terrorism in West Jerusalem.

Not a single word from PMO on the Charleston shootings. I’m sure his heart would be going out to the victims of that terrorist attack were there more oil reserves in South Carolina. But no, Harper seems content to only put his heart on his sleeve for those victims of Islamic terrorism. I guess you have to be killed by the right kind of terrorist to make the PM’s Twitter feed.

Following the Islamic terrorist narrative makes shoving legislation like Bill C-51 down Canadians’ throats a bit easier.

By the way, nine times more people die from falling out of chairs each year in the U.S. than have died from Islamic terrorist acts since 9/11. Where is all the anti-chair legislation?

Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News