What Does A Domestic Terrorist Look Like?

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 9 2012 @ 12:20pm


by Chris Bodenner

Steve Coll provides a reality check:

The entire [post-9/11] decade-long domestic death toll from terrorism (that is, where a political or ideological motive was apparent) was thirty. By comparison, the rate of annual deaths from mass shootings by non-ideological deranged killers—such as the gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado, last month—runs more than thirty times higher (on average, about a hundred deaths each year). In all, there are about fifteen thousand murders in America each year.

Of the three hundred domestic-terrorism cases studied, about a quarter arose from anti-government extremists, white supremacists, or terrorists animated by bias against another religion. And all of the most frightening cases—involving chemical, biological, and radiological materials—arose from right-wing extremists or anarchists. None arose from Islamist militancy.

And certainly not Sikhs. Coll also describes how the slain leader of the Oak Creek temple, Satwant Singh Kaleka, emigrated from India three decades ago with $35 in savings yet eventually bought several gas stations. In contrast, the killer was kicked out of the Army for being a drunk and then joined a neo-Nazi rock band. Which sounds more like the American Dream? In further measure of the men, the 64-year-old Kaleka tried to tackle the gunman, while the latter shot himself in the head to avoid arrest.

By the way, Justin Erik Halldór Smith reads ups on history and concludes that "actually, Nazis are pro-Sikh":

This is a very minor point to make, almost offensively minor, in the wake of Wade M. Page's senseless massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin a few days ago, but still: strictly GT_WADE-PAGE_120808speaking there is no basis in traditional Nazi ideology for hatred of Sikhs. Quite the contrary. Of course this doesn't mean Nazis are nice, and Sikhs should not have to care one way or the other what Nazis think of them, but it does help to put into very clear relief how Page's singular evil was abetted by his total ignorance. … Page seems not even to have understood that Sikhs are not Muslims. Of course he was no scholar, or even a pseudo-scholar like [Nazi ideologue] Savitri Devi, but if the general level of discourse about cultural difference were somewhat higher in our society, he might have had an opportunity to hear somewhere that, at least on a certain understanding, Sikhs are more 'Aryan' than the Aryan Nation.

(Top photo: Siblings Amarjit Singh Kaleka and Jaswinder Kaur pose with family photographs of their brother Satwant Singh Kaleka, president of the gurdwara (temple) who was killed when a gunman shot worshippers on August 6, 2012. By STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images. Bottom photo: A copy photograph of the mug shot handed out by the FBI of the suspect Wade Michael Page after a press conference on the shooting at the Sikh Temple. By FBI via Getty Images)