Willful Indifference (UPDATED 04.30)

by matttbastard

So when is an act of (attempted) terrorism on US soil not nationwide front page news? When the perpetrator (and target) doesn’t fit the accepted narrative:

A 27-year-old man has been arrested and taken into federal custody in connection with a makeshift bomb found this week at an Austin women’s clinic that performs abortions, authorities said Friday.


The bomb was found Wednesday in a bag in the parking lot of the Austin Women’s Health Center. After an employee found the suspicious package, a bomb squad detonated the device. It was found to contain an explosive powder and two pounds of nails, said David Carter, assistant chief of the Austin Police Department.

Zuzu responds with the post of the day:

Had that bomb been found outside a post office or a school, the headlines would have been hysterically running on about ZOMG TERRORISM TERRORISM IS AL QAEDA INVOLVED? And the right-wing warbloggers would be pissing their pants and hyperventilating about profiling Arabs and banning Muslims from public life and dhimmitude and how if they had been there, they’d have stopped it with their concealed carry and their extra-super special powers of righteousness, just like they saw in a movie once and BOMB IRAN! and 9/11 CHANGED EVERYTHING!!! but they still have better things to do than join the military, but they’ll be happy to go into the woods and hunt Russians and shout WOLVERINES!!

But it’s an abortion clinic, so. Ho-hum.

For some reason, terrorism doesn’t count if it’s directed against women and their health care providers. It’s just not news, and the fact that it goes unremarked in the national media — and hell, even in the local media, as in the case of the Austin bomb — contributes to the idea that women are not important and that violence directed at women is not only to be expected, but to be dismissed.

As Zuzu outlines, it’s not terrorism if there are no Muslims involved, as this story from Alabama further illustrates:

Raids that resulted in the arrests of six alleged militia members and the seizure of hundreds of hand grenades and bullets were “much ado about nothing,” a defense lawyer said Friday.

A cache of ammunition that was confiscated – 2,500 rounds – wasn’t that large, and the scores of homemade hand grenades that agents seized could be made with powder from fireworks and components readily available in military surplus stores, attorney Scott Boudreaux said.

Even prosecutors say the ragtag group called the Alabama Free Militia had no intended target and was simply stockpiling munitions, said Boudreaux, who plans to meet this weekend with his client, Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46, of Collinsville, a supposed major in the paramilitary group.

Despite the relative indifference of the media and politicians, an SPLC report shows that in the ten years following after Oklahoma City bombing US law enforcement officials uncovered nearly 60 domestic terror plots involving members of the extreme right-wing. The Austin [American-]Statesman notes that in the first three months of 2007 there had been 32 reported incidents of “violence or disruption” directed towards abortion providers, according to National Abortion Federation figures. The Alabama militia group was caught with “130 hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun, 2,500 rounds of ammunition, explosives components, stolen fireworks and other items“, as per AP.

Imagine the response from the LGF set if those arrested were swarthy brown Allah-worshippers, instead of lily-white Christians who fear teh black helicopters and love the unborn more than living, breathing women. Oh, wait, we don’t have to imagine (keep in mind, no weapons or bomb making materials were found in the so-called ‘Miami Seven’ arrests). If this ‘militia’ consisted of non-bubbas, or the anti-choice extremist who attempted to blow up the Austin women’s clinic were Muslim, the right-wing noise machine would have instantly whirred into an overdriven frenzy like it always does when there’s an Islam angle.

IEDs and armed insurgents on American soil; yep, nothing to see here. Hey, look – LAST SEPTEMBER we caught an al-Qaida higher-up! ZOMGWTFBBQUSA!!!1

Related: David Neiwert has more on US society’s cognitive dissonance when responding to domestic and ‘foreign’ (read: Islamic) terror.

Update 04.29: Many thanks to Cernig @ The Newshoggers for the acknowledgment. At least Stratfor is taking the attempted clinic bombing in Austin seriously:

Anti-abortion activists almost always have deeply held convictions based on their religious beliefs. A study of past anti-abortion attacks shows that once activists decide to commit acts of violence based on these convictions, they will not be easily dissuaded. Rather than be discouraged by a failed attempt like the incident in Austin, they often learn from their mistakes and adjust their tactics accordingly. Therefore, the group or individual responsible for placing the IED at the clinic is likely to strike again. [note: report was drafted prior to the arrest of Paul Ross Evans]

Dave Neiwert offers his expert analysis on both Austin and Alabama here.

Update 2: via OCSteve in ObWi comments – UPI:

Paul Ross Evans has no known ties to anti-abortion or extremist groups, The Austin American-Statesman said. Vicki Saporta, president of the American Abortion Federation, said the group is going through its records to see if he has ever been in the Austin clinic or made threats against clinics in the past.

News 8 Austin reports that Evans’ MySpace page “suggests he’s into tattoos, dislikes sports and doesn’t watch television.

Update 04.30: Today’s Austin American-Statesman contains this piece on the reaction Evans’ attempted act of terrorism has garnered in his sleepy, idyllic hometown. Lufkin Police Sgt Stephen Abbott says of the deeply Christian Texas community “[doesn’t] really have extremist groups”, referring to Lufkin as “the heart of the Bible belt.”

Perhaps not, but the antipathy of local residents towards abortion is apparent throughout the article, most notably when the town’s own brush with clinic violence is recounted:

In 2004, a 20-year-old junior college student council president was sentenced to probation for firing a high-powered rifle into the Planned Parenthood clinic, an incident that damaged the building but didn’t injure anyone.