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The Not-So-Complex World of Michael Bloomberg: When a white person does it, it’s not terrorism

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Last week, a threatening letter laced with the deadly chemical ricin was sent from Shreveport, Louisiana to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a response to the mayor’s outspoken support for stricter gun control laws.  Two identical letters, also containing the lethal substance, were addressed to both President Barack Obama and the head of the Washington D.C. lobbying group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is managed and funded by Bloomberg himself.

The contents of the letters are clearly the work of a right-wing gun nut and read as follows:

“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional, god-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die. What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”

Despite lethally targeting civilians and non-military officials far from any active battlefield, no one is referring to these acts as terrorism.  Not the press, not the intended victims.  No one.

In fact, Bloomberg himself was nonplussed by the whole ordeal, telling reporters on Thursday May 30, “I’m not angry. There are people who I would argue do things that may be irrational, do things that are wrong, but it’s a very complex world out there and we just have to deal with that.”

Yes, Mike, it is a very complex world. 

This world is so complex, in fact, that an easily identifiable act of terrorism isn’t considered terrorism for one simple reason: it probably wasn’t committed by a Muslim, but rather by some white guy in the South.

Clearly, while white guys who send murderous mail are merely acting irrationally and doing something wrong, potential violence by members of the Muslim faith present a singular threat to our civilized society. So much so, in fact, that Michael Bloomberg himself believes our own laws and the bedrock of that very society are not good enough to defend against such a scourge to humanity.

Last month, following the horrific Boston Marathon bombing, Bloomberg declared that the American obsession with privacy, civil rights and basic freedoms were antiquated and trite when compared to the dire threat posed by hypothetical barbarian hordes of ‘Islamists.’

At a press conference at the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, Bloomberg said,  “The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry. But we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

Yes, how complex it is.

So complex that, although a 2010 study by Duke University and the University of North Carolina found that Islamic terrorism accounted for only six percent of all terrorist attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005 while a 2012  analysis  by the Center for American Progress reported that a whopping ”[f]ifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists,” Michael Bloomberg has made it his duty to illegally spy on and harass Muslim communities in the New York Metro area.

Bloomberg has presided over a massive, illegal covert domestic surveillance and  ethno-religious profiling program that have targeted, alienated and traumatized  Muslims throughout the Northeast, despite the fact that, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, more Americans have been killed in right-wing terrorist plots than by Islamic terrorists.

“NYPD surveillance has impacted every facet of American Muslim life,” explains Nermeen Arastu, a volunteer attorney with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), which co-authored a March 2013 report entitled, “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims.”

“The program has stifled speech, communal life and religious practice and criminalized a broad segment of American Muslims,” Arastu added, “The isolationism that comes with being a ‘spied on’ community means that American Muslims are getting a fundamentally inferior opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights.”

But, for Mayor Mike, just because a white guy tries to kill you via the postal service doesn’t mean white people in general deserve to be spied on, rounded up, marginalized, and profiled.  Keep calm and carry on, he says.  These things happen.

This morning, on Chris Jansing’s MSNBC show, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page said it was “probably not fair to taint the entire gun rights movement with the actions of this disturbing letter because there is a serious debate and two sides to it when it comes to the issue of guns.”  Jansing agreed. “Yeah, and it’s unfortunate that, for a few, it comes to this,” she said.

Not fair.  Unfortunate.

Last year, Bloomberg defended his Muslim surveillance program, claiming, “Everything the NYPD has done is legal, it is appropriate, it is constitutional,” and invoking that sacred strawman, 9/11. “We have not forgotten the lesson of that terrible day on 9/11,” he insisted, sanctimoniously adding, “We have to keep this country safe…Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight.”

Bloomberg’s insistence that, “We don’t target individuals based on race or religion. We follow leads,” is fascinating because, just six months after he said this, the  Associated Press‘ report on court testimony by the NYPD stated, “In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.”

But Bloomberg’s targeting of Muslims isn’t his only method of rooting out the evil that lurks in the hearts of brown men.

A month ago, the billionaire mayor defended his racist Stop-and-Frisk policy by invoking – what else? – the ever-looming conversation-ender: the constant scourge and fear of terrorism. “Look at what’s happened in Boston,” he said. “Remember what happened here on 9/11. Remember all of those who’ve been killed by gun violence and the families they left behind.”

Again he even claimed that our own laws and efforts not to discriminate against certain communities are making us less safe. “God forbid terrorists succeed in striking our city because of a politically driven law that undermines the N.Y.P.D.’s intelligence gathering efforts,” he said.

The editors of the New York Times were unmoved by Bloomberg’s fear-mongering defense of racial profiling.  ”Mayor Michael Bloomberg trotted out shopworn, discredited arguments this week,” they wrote, ”while defending the constitutionally suspect police program under which hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers have been detained and questioned on the streets every year.”

They note, “[G]uns were seized in only 0.15 percent of all stops. In addition, only 5.4 percent of all stops resulted in an arrest, and about 6 percent led to a summons. This means that in nearly 90 percent of cases, the citizens who were stopped were doing nothing illegal. In some cases, prosecutors declined to automatically prosecute arrests made in connection with the program because they knew that the stops were illegal.”

In 2011, 84 percent of all those stopped under the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk rampage where black and Hispanic, despite respectively representing 23 and 29 percent of New York City’s total population.

Under Michael Bloomberg’s reign, minority communities have been collectively punished for the criminal actions of a few.  In his complex world, blacks and Latinos are all potential gun-toting killers, while all Muslims are jihadists-in-training.  Yet, an actual gun-toting lunatic who actually tries to murder Bloomberg is an anomaly, an aberration, nothing to be concerned with. Simply something “we just have to deal with.”

But terrorism?  No, never.  Not if the perpetrator is white.

Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and currently a columnist for The Guardian, has been addressing this double standard for years.  ”Terrorism,” he writes, “is simultaneously the single most meaningless and most manipulated word in the American political lexicon. The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity. It has really come to mean: ‘a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies.'”

So while the NYPD continues to terrorize minority communities and the FBI continues to foil phony Muslim terror plots that it itself devisesplans and funds, rest assured that all the well-armed and well-represented white folks in our noble nation will continue to live free from suspicion, scrutiny, and surveillance no matter how much postal poison they send and mass shootings they carry out.

Maybe it’s not complex after all, maybe it’s just complexion.

This post originally appeared on Nima Shirazi’s website Wide Asleep in America.
About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog,, where this post first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.

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12 Responses

  1. Light
    May 31, 2013, 4:10 pm

    Another recent double standard

    The Oregon teen accused of planning to bomb his high school had a detailed itinerary for his attack that included napalm bombs, firearms and killing himself before the police could, authorities said Tuesday.

    No mention of terrorism.

    Family attorney: ‘He’s very mentally ill’
    Acord’s mother says her son suffers from a rare form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  2. just
    May 31, 2013, 5:11 pm

    A great and much needed expose. Thank you Nima.

    Bales is the monster who massacred men, women and children in Afghanistan, and then defiled their murdered bodies by setting them alight. He is not deemed insane– he remembers everything, and in exchange for telling the truth, he and his attorney are entering into a plea agreement to take the death penalty off the table. I call this terrorism. but many feel sorry for him… He is a terrorist, but how many would acknowledge this? Precious few. Islamophobia and racial/religious/ethnic profiling has become not only acceptable, but requisite.

  3. Krauss
    May 31, 2013, 5:19 pm

    I’m thinking of that Louis CK quote:

    “Being white is awesome. If you could choose every single day what you wanted to be, I would re-up every single time.”

  4. Mike_Konrad
    May 31, 2013, 5:58 pm

    So complex that, although a 2010 study by Duke University and the University of North Carolina found that Islamic terrorism accounted for only six percent of all terrorist attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005 while a 2012 analysis by the Center for American Progress reported that a whopping “[f]ifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists,”

    Muslims are only 1% of the population but produce 6% of the terrorism.
    Whites are 72% of the population but produce 56% of the terrorism.

    Your statistics damn you.

    • American
      June 4, 2013, 9:28 pm

      “all terrorist attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005 ”..Mike K

      lol …wouldn’t get too excited if were you….from 1980 most of the terrorism would have been anti abortion nuts and the Jewish Def league bombings and murders….Jewish terrorism is included under ‘white’….. so break out all the JDL terrorism incidents and see what it shows in relation to the 1.5% Jewish population.

    • tree
      June 4, 2013, 10:59 pm

      Mike, sweetie, according to the same graph of terrorist acts between 1980 and 2005, 7% percent of them were committed by Jewish extremists. Jews are So who do you think that statistic damns now? Or is this another “Never mind” moment on your part, since you can’t manipulate the data to suit your purpose?

      Whites are 72% of the population but produce 56% of the terrorism.

      You can’t read either can you? That was “right wing extremists” who produce 56% of the terrorism. I hate to break it to you, but not all whites are “right wing extremists”. According to the same article 30% of the acts were committed by “eco-terrorists”, most likely predominantly white. So that means 56 + 30 , or 86 percent of the acts were committed by white people, who make up only 72 percent of the population. Maybe we should start profiling white people? What do you think Mike? Or do you think?

  5. LanceThruster
    May 31, 2013, 6:28 pm

    I think even Bill O’Reilly appearing on The Daily Show trotted out a variation of the well-worn trope, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”


  6. ckg
    May 31, 2013, 6:45 pm

    @Nima @Light
    If the perpetrators are white, they will undoubtedly be described as unstable or mentally ill. This assessment of mental illness will then be accompanied by pleas for better mental health support and understanding. Non-white perpetrators of violence, in contrast, never suffer mental illness, we must assume.

    Baruch Goldstein was “emotionally unstable.”

    • ritzl
      June 4, 2013, 9:07 pm

      OT, but thanks, ckg (and piotr) for your correction the other day on Elon Musk. Memory failed again, and I’m stepping back from the keyboard. Glad you set the record straight.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    May 31, 2013, 6:53 pm

    RE: “There are people who I would argue do things that may be irrational, do things that are wrong, but it’s a very complex world out there and we just have to deal with that.” ~ Mayor Bloomberg

    HEY BLOOMBERG, DEAL WITH THIS (A JOKE): You can pry my Big Gulp® from my cold, stiff, very fat fingers! ! !

    P.S. Do anything! Do anything! Just dont take away my (security) “blankie”!

  8. tomstedham
    June 2, 2013, 9:30 am

    Normally I agree with 99% of what Mondoweiss says. However…. lay off the “white men are evil” shtick. It’s inaccurate.
    The OTHER ricin-letter-sender was arrested, and is CLEARLY NOT a “white guy”, nor a “right-wing gun nut”. Instead, he’s a non-white Level 2 sex offender…
    Did you deliberately leave him out? I have noticed that all media outlets have scrubbed his mugshot from their articles… NYDaily News, HuffPo, etc. the photo is gone, or was never there in the first place.
    Could it be his distinctive non-white appearance?
    Please stick to the Middle East conflict and its affect on America.

    The “other” terrorist, by your standards, is Matthew Ryan Buquet. Here’s his not-to-be-shown mugshot:

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