Domestic Terrorism: Why the Hesitation to Condemn Ignorance, Fear and Hate? We know why – we alway have!

By Jorge Dante Hernandez Prósperi

It seems that we, as Americans, have developed a template to follow each time we hear about an act of Domestic Terrorism. It has become a metanarrative – our overarching story to the world and our children. It has become our national brand.  

We know the process quite well. First comes the breaking news across all cable networks, Twitter and Facebook. The horrific details capture our attention – for at least several days – past the funerals – some with closed caskets – as politicians pander providing conventional ironic and hypocritical “thoughts and prayers.”

Photo credit: Mary Oakey (Unsplash)

We hear and see local and state politicians crowding podiums, using the event for their own political platforms and campaigns. An endless line of local and national officials spewing well-rehearsed scripted speeches – as if they were ready to vote to stop the terror- but we know better.  

We listen to the names of the victims, learn perhaps about a geographic-demographic unknown to us.  We learn that each victim, just like we do, innocently left their homes with plans, hopes and dreams not knowing that it would be their last trip to a school, church, temple, grocery store, park, party, wedding, concert or mall. 

We hear from family and witnesses describing the unimaginable horror and emptiness. We get a glimpse of what it meant for each victim to be alive, to be present as a mother, father, daughter, son, friend, partner, neighbor and colleague. At times we even hear about the meaning and purpose of their lives. The stark reality provides yet another opportunity  for introspection.  Do we dare to reflect?  To genuinely authentically reflect? 

“What if . . . ?!  No, no, no! It’s all too inconceivable – too horrific – the needlessness – the inhumanity – the raw living nightmare. This can’t be us! No, no, no! . . . Flip the channel, go to TikTok or Facebook – some posting about the marvelous world of cats, dogs and horses.”

The focus then shifts to the murderer, the guns used, amount of ammunition, body armor, how it was all too simple and easy to purchase. We hear sketchy details about the murderer’s  background. At times even a few of the reasons why and how the murderer was politicized and radicalized. It must have surely been a case of mental illness – that’s it – no connection to us as a people. The murderers needed interventions and therapy that was never available.

Depending on who is in power and control of the investigation, we may get insights, transparency and disclosure as to social media fingerprints, the murderer’s ideology, even glances of who they were listening to on cable news, radio and social media outlets. Such information coincidentally and insidiously a form of free ink for those supporting overtly or covertly domestic terrorists – the gun culture – even those slimy slippery politicians living in the shadows and fringes. 

Of course, such disclosures are carefully scrubbed by local, state and federal politicians who are ever aware of the power of the BASE – the absolute blind-faith-believers, fanatics and partisans that stand ready and eager to pull the ballot lever depending on what is said; the very tone and timber of the dog whistles carefully identified and demanded by the BASE . . . and its legacy. 

Eventually, we witness the wall and curbside memorials laden with flowers, photos, and at times, teddy bears when the youngest and most innocent among us are not spared. The numbers don’t even seem to matter anymore – 24, 17, 18 . . . just numbers remain – a collective noun. Silent night marches and vigils follow – another numbed community holding lit candles – flickering – soon to die out.

And so we continue to live with the lie that Domestic Terrorism based on our history – our culture of violence, fear and hate of others and difference does not exist. 

The genesis of this metanarrative of denial began in 1776 (equal but separate), doubled down in 1861 (from 750,000 deaths with a range from 620,000 to as many as 850,000 casualties). Fast forward to 2021 . . . the attack – the insurrection by terrorists on the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C. blatantly streaming on live TV on January 6, 2021. Violence – terrorism is who we are. It’s our DNA.

Throughout our history, push back, after push back, after push back by deniers holding fast to 4th of July moments, blindly hoping for yet another Great White Hope promising to make America great again by any means. In reality promising an autocracy – the antithesis of a Democracy.

Yes, this is who we have become – a captive audience of deniers of the realities of needless terror and horror. With each gruesome killing avoiding laser focus on how the terrorist was raised, schooled – those developmental years in elementary, junior high and high school. Deniers of our history.

We do not embrace history but fear it. We turn away from our history, try to revise it, the BASE denying it to the children. In desperation, resorting to altering curricula, banning books, threatening school boards and teachers all under the veil of “Parent Rights.” When all else fails, promoting home schooling holding daughters and sons captive, imprinting a curriculum of ignorance, superiority, supremacy, grievances, resentment and the legacy of unconscious inhumanity. Leaving young minds without critical tools to transition into the real world. For some, left to figure out the truth as adults. Some try to break away from the vortex of fear and hate. For others, becoming a member of the BASE by choice, with fertile ground for radicalization. 

We do not probe deeply into the terrorist’s associations with family, friends and colleagues. We never get answers as to where and when the politicization and radicalization began – when it became a mania, an obsession. What was the thinking, the cognitive dissonance, the environmental language surrounding the shooter during her/his developmental years? What was she/he reading, watching on TV, listening to on the radio?  What political party provided fuel and motivation? Who were current heroes and mentors of the ideology? Who became and why did they become the “others”, the outcasts, the enemy?

Other questions always seem to correlate. Why would automatic weapons, meant to be used by police and military made available on the internet and gun shows?  Why no common sense background checks? Why were magazines holding countless rounds of ammunition as available as the guns?  Was it all about the 2nd amendment, gun collectors, hobbyists, just country folk hunting pheasant and deer or was it a deadly American inherited gene regarding the legacy of our violent nature?

Shouldn’t gun manufacturers be responsible for leading the discourse on gun research, safety and legislation?  Why do CEOs and Board of Trustees of gun companies remain silent? Don’t these industry giants have families? How much carnage will it take to acknowledge their share of the burden of responsibility? Why are they not held responsible for producing the instruments that maim and kill physically, psychologically and culturally generation after generation?

Domestic Terrorists, regardless of their first and last names exist and are home grown – as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. They live among us. They are born and raised in the north, south, east and west of the USA.  So why the hesitation to allow local and federal legislators to do and share research and data? Why prevent active investigations and prosecutions of domestic terrorists?  Who is being protected – our citizenry at large or the so called BASE and its legacy?  

Lest we forget that such terror, fear and hate can only exist in a society that professes, believes and VOTES for authoritarians, dictators, tyrants, autocrats, obstructionists – pathological liars absent of moral courage who echo hopelessness, disregard the rule of law and are willing to sacrifice Democracy in exchange for local, state and federal power and control.

The playbooks and its schemes were written long ago. They bear the brand of Nazism, Fascism, Eugenics, Race Science, Hitlerism, neo-Nazism, Alt Right, Replacement Theory and Republican Trumpism.  

The BASE remains the BASE by choice.  It’s members are not clueless and innocent but by choice obstruct, seek to divide, living in the 18th century. That fellow citizens, legislators, candidates promote and support such socio-cultural-political-religious isms and phobias, by CHOICE, is the sadness, and at the same time, the horror of living in America in the 21st Century. 

We know why this is so.  We always have. We know that fear, terror, horror, racism and xenophobia is all about maintaining and fostering ignorance, hate and the loss of the lingering delusion of White Superiority, White Entitlement, White Privilege, White Capital. The only fear by members of the BASE is to lose the power to obstruct – to be voted out of office. This is why the BASE has no genuine legislation and policies focused on enhancing the quality of all of our lives.

This is why each VOTE counts. Each VOTE is tangible action in remembering each lost mother, father, daughter, son, friend, partner, neighbor and colleague. Each life lost is there with us in the voting booth . . . their story, their presence, the meaning of their lives did not disappear beyond the breaking news of a day.  It lives within each of us.