The fine line between hate crime and terrorism

Although Fox News thinks the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, was part of the "war on Christianity" and had nothing to do with race, the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, had everything to do with race. It, like many other shootings of black individuals, was born from the culture of racism conservatives both deny and support. (Granted, liberals can be racist, too, but it is just not as common.) Many on the left have criticized that the SC Shooting is not called an act of terror, when the same kind of attack by a Muslim would be called just that. So was the South Carolina Shooting terrorism?

There is a difference between a normal crime, a hate crime, and terrorism. A normal crime, murder and such, needs no grander motivation than greed or personal arguments between individuals. Hate crimes are not personal on the same level, but rather involve the cultural or physical attributes of a person or group of persons. Terrorism is ideological; it is based on doctrine and aims to achieve something.

There is a reason why it is called terrorism when Muslims kill people for offending their religion or prophet, and that is because it is directly tied to the doctrine of Islam. Not all murders at the hands of Muslims should be considered terrorism, as Muslims can murder for the same reasons as anyone else, with greed or feelings toward an individual as their motivation. The same courtesy should be extended to non-Muslims, meaning that the word terrorism includes but is not limited to Islamic terrorism.

The South Carolina Shooting -- and also many other shootings of black persons, many of which even involve police officers -- should be considered an extension of the conservative ideology of hate toward non-whites which defines the right wing. This ideology flourishes in the bubble of ignorance created by right-wing media like Fox News. This means the shootings of innocent people of color are ideological and could be, or should be, labeled acts of terror. Even though most conservatives, many of whom are deeply racist, would not murder anyone, the air of hatred they breathe is what begets the violent extremism which claims the lives of innocent minorities.

There is no holy book to justify this terrorism, but racism is built into the dogma of the far right; they have a doctrine of hating those who are different, such as black people and foreigners, and they teach the next generation to hate in the same way. Not only do they teach others to hate people of color, but they create the conditions for which they claim black people are inferior. For example, poverty is blamed on black people's laziness; increased criminal activity is blamed on black people's nature. But poverty and crime do not stem from nowhere, and certainly not directly from the blackness of black individuals; rather, the poverty is a result of racial discrimination and segregation enforced by the right wing, and the crime is a result of poverty and oppression. Stereotypes are enforced and created by the right-wing media, which demonizes black people.

While most Muslims would not murder innocents, many hold disturbingly conservative views and they keep alive the ancient dogma of Islam and its holy texts, which feed into the extremism threatening not only free expression in the west but more importantly the freedom and lives of Muslims and minorities in the Middle East. It is the doctrines and texts of the religion itself as well as prevalent conservative and fundamentalist beliefs which should be criticized, not Muslims as people. There are, after all, liberal Muslims who wish for reformation, and even the most conservative Muslim is a slave to indoctrination. Very few people, including violent extremists, are inherently evil.

The line between hate crime and terrorism is sometimes very fine. However, considering the culturally imbued racism found in all layers of the conservative camp, whether it is the greediest of businessmen, the sleaziest of politicians, or the most ignorant of workers, it seems to me that the many attacks on black people in America should be labeled as terrorist attacks, as should the retaliatory attacks by right-wing nationalists following the latest deaths at the hands of Islamic extremists.

Conservatives make every issue about how it is they who are oppressed, even when they are the ones who oppress people of color. In South Carolina, they even fly the Confederate flag, as if they are proud to be descendants of slave owners. They spread lies about minorities and deny the most obvious facts, such as the fact that the SC Shooting was about race, not a "war on Christianity" as Fox News claims. The only way to stop the killings of innocent minorities is to fight the conservative culture of racism and nationalism, as it begets hateful violence which should be considered terrorism.