Dear Media: Stop Using the Term ‘Radicalized’ Unless You Apply It to White Christian Extremists, Too


 | Huffington Post | December 11, 2015

The double standard can’t be more jarring: For days television networks and media outlets have been parroting the FBI in telling us how the San Bernadino shooters were “radicalized” at this or that time, or speculating on their “radicalization” and how it occurred. This terminology, when applied exclusively to terrorism inspired by a distortion of Islam, is discriminatory, and furthers the very anti-Muslim bigotry that Donald Trump and much of the GOP presidential field promote. The implication is that there are two kinds of Muslim: Radicalized – even if there’s an acknowledgement that they represent a small minority, though often there’s no such acknowledgment — and non-radicalized.

The further implication is that any Muslim can become radicalized if x, y, and z happens — a trip to Saudi Arabia, a text message with this or that individual, engaging with certain people on a Facebook page, etc. And yet, for several weeks not only have many in the media been reluctant to label Robert Dear, who carried out the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado Springs, as a terrorist, but there’s no discussion of him being “radicalized” by extremist Christianity. He expressed support for the Army of God, a Christian extremist terrorist group that has taken responsibility for the killings of doctors who provide abortions and whose members have killed others in the name of stopping abortion, such as Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, who also bombed a lesbian bar in that city. Dear declared in court yesterday that he is a “warrior for the babies.” How much more radicalized can you get?

Dylan Roof became immersed in the deep cult of white supremacy that has been nurtured by groups like the Ku Klux Klan — which also describes itself as a Christian group — and many other groups for decades in this country, and surely he was radicalized to the point of carrying out a massacre in a South Carolina church. And yet, no one in the media has used the word radicalized to describe him.

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