LEON: Armed Angry White Males — the New Domestic Terrorists
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III | 3/19/2014, 3 p.m.
On June 1, 1921 a white mob in Tulsa, OK burned and bombed thirty-four square blocks of Tulsa's Black Greenwood Community to the ground. According to Tim Madigan's The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 the actual death toll was never determined. Conservative estimates put it around one hundred. More commonly accepted estimates place the death toll between three and four hundred.
The lynching's documented by Tolnay and Beck, the Red Summer of 1919, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 are historic examples of American domestic terrorism.
More recently, on June 7, 1998 James Byrd, Jr. was murdered by Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King. At least two of them, Brewer and King were admitted whited supremacists. They dragged Byrd for three miles behind a pickup truck along an asphalt road in Jasper, Texas. Mr. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper.
Today, lynch mobs have been replaced by "Zimmerman's" and "Dunn's" that feel empowered by "Stand Your Ground", believing that juries of their peers will exonerate them of their use of deadly force when Black youths are involved.
Unfortunately, all too often these events and so many others do not get discussed or analyzed in that context.
Not only were Sen. Obama's comments astute in terms of their historical accuracy, as we look at the George Zimmerman's and Michael Dunn's of the world, his comments could be considered prophetic.
It is my contention that the recent "murders" of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis should not be viewed as isolated incidents; they did not occur in a vacuum. They are part of a larger murderous American historical continuum. At the heart of this murderous continuum are race and xenophobia (a fear of others) and a violent reaction to it. To many in the dominant culture "their" America is changing, The "browning" of America has evoked a return and acceptance of the murderous continuum. Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo best expressed this sentiment when he proclaimed; "I want my country back".
Conceal Carry permits, "Stand Your Ground" laws and inept prosecutors are creating a climate that provides the Zimmerman's and Dunn's of the world with a license to kill as well as juries that are predisposed to letting them to do so.
As the American economy continues to contract and full-time well-paying jobs become harder to find, the face of poverty in America is changing. The stereotypical "urban" or "Black" poor have now become the "suburban" or White poor. According to CBS "Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures... More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line…accounting for more than 41 percent of the nations destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks."
According to the Christian Science Monitor, "Suburbs are increasingly becoming the address of America's poor. Suburban poverty across the country grew 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the rate of urban poverty…" Many of those newly poor suburbanites are White and many of them are angry, blaming people of color, instead of directing their ire towards corporate greed, the outsourcing of factory jobs to overseas companies and governmental policies that favor the wealthy for their misfortunes.
Sen. Obama's assessment in 2008 was historically accurate and more prophetic than pundits and commentators have been willing to give him credit for. Armed angry White males like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn have been operating in our midst for centuries. Their actions are not new; the lack of analysis of them in the context of terrorism is not surprising. The narrative has to change and we must engage in a broader discussion of them as the new domestic terrorists.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the producer/host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio channel 110 call-in talk radio program "Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon." Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drwleon and Dr. Leon's Prescription at Facebook.com.