Essentially, Juan Cole finds it suspect that the media calls people like James Holmes or Wade Page "gunmen" whereas the archetypical "terrorist" is Middle-Eastern. He feels that Whites should be properly classified as terrorists, hinting at that oh-so-subtle thing we like to call White Privilege.
Leeeeeet's take a look:
1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”As much as I love snarking all up and down on a numbered list, I feel there's one solid, end-game point to be made here: that's our word. "Terrorists," for as long as I've been alive, have been the bad guys that live between Africa and Asia. Of course, it's more complicated than that--what I want you to walk away with is that "terrorist" is an English (White) word, used by English speaking (White) peoples to describe our foes. They get to call us infidels.
2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.
3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.
4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.
5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.
6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.
7. White terrorists are never called “white.” But other terrorists are given ethnic affiliations.
8. Nobody thinks white terrorists are typical of white people. But other terrorists are considered paragons of their societies.
9. White terrorists are alcoholics, addicts or mentally ill. Other terrorists are apparently clean-living and perfectly sane.
10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.
As it stands, White people can't be terrorists in the same way that Black people can't be racist; it's only a terrorist attack when a Brown person slaughters White people. Not when White people slaughter Brown people. Not when White people slaughter White people. The same can be said for Asians and (Non-Muslim) Blacks.
White people, when they haul off and kill a bunch of innocents, usually are individuals acting out in rage, or depression, or anxiety, or some other crazy thing. Whites aren't usually spurred to mass murder by religious or political doctrines--and when they are--aren't usually acting out against White culture or religion. How then, could they be terrorists?
They could be terrorists if we called them terrorists. Then, by definition, we'd be able to snap up a lot more of them. This is what bothers me most about Juan Cole's train of thought. Terrorists are subject to all the wonderful civil rights loopholes available to the US government in a way that lone gunmen are not. And what exactly do people like Cole define a lone gunmen?
"A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US?"
I'm given to understand that Juan Cole is a cool guy otherwise, so no hard feelings.