It was murder pure and simple.
At about 10:45 a gunman, identified as 24 year old Mohammod Youssuf Abdul-Aziz, began a shooting spree in Chattanooga Tennessee, targeting military personnel. Four Marines were killed. A Marine and sailor, and at least one policeman were wounded. Authorities were quick to describe the attacks as domestic terrorism. It took days before that same term was applied to the Charleston Church Massacre in which 9 were killed by Dylann Roof, a self-described white supremacist. Lost to the histrionics of the rightwing and cable news media were critical questions regarding both attacks.
On a local Salem radio affiliate several callers called this an act of war. Former republican tea party representative Joe Walsh was adamant that America is at war with Islam. He was quick to dismiss Dylann Roof as a loner, evil and insane. For Walsh, yesterday on his program, Abdul-Aziz, an American citizen born in Kuwait, was confirmation of the antipathy all Muslims hold for America. Walsh quoted a wholly unsubstantiated number of hundreds of millions of Muslims aligned with ISIS or openly calling for the destruction of the West. That number is derived from a false estimate proliferated in the media of “10% of Muslims around the planet hating America. Bigots like Walsh, sowing and promoting hatred and discord for political purposes, simply have accepted and added to that fictitious figure.
While the media was very quick to connect Abdul-Aziz with ISIS, capitalizing that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, there was almost no investigation into Roof’s connections to white supremacist groups. ISIS, to be accurate, has called on Muslims in America to attack military targets. White supremacists have called for a new American revolution, quoting Jefferson’s “blood of tyrants and patriots.“ Michael savage, along with virtually every rightwing pundit has called Barack Obama a “tyrant.”
There are critical questions not being addressed in the national narrative. They are, instead, being narrated and spun for political party expediency. On July 4th, The New York Times reported that Roof had indeed been in contact with local white supremacists groups. While there is no evidence they directly encouraged the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, they certainly inspired a malleable young mind. The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported that officials had widened their investigation to others who may have helped Roof in some way. The same seems true for Abdul-Aziz, who lived in a comfortable upper middle class home and was described by friends and family as a likable, easy going person. At some point, like Roof, he became radicalized and driven to an act of terrorism.
Attention for the shooting shifted in the media, pushed by the NRA, doubtlessly to protect market interests and profits, to the gun free zone sign on the door. The easy answer as to why soldiers, as many, including Walsh, were demanding, do not carry guns just as off duty police officers may within limits, is that America is not a military junta. The Posse Comitatus Act was signed into law on June 18, 1878 by President Rutherford B. Hayes. The purpose of the act, supporting the Insurrection Act of 1807 was to limit the powers of the federal government in using soldiers to act as domestic law enforcement personnel. The Act of 1807, incidentally, was signed into law by then President Thomas Jefferson.
Reports and shell casings outside the door where the Marines were killed indicate an ambush. Being armed would have made no difference in this case. The Marines were killed at their desks as Abdul-Aziz, who was later killed by police, fired multiple rounds through the windows. While notable and shocking, the attack also comes at a time on falling crime rates nationally. The assertion by pro-gun activists and the NRA to openly carry guns into public buildings, private businesses, restaurants and shopping centers has led to growing complaints by many who feel intimidated by the weapons as they wait in line for coffee or shop. The intimidation aspect is a clear feature of the activism, a factor that carries the threat of violence.
A clear majority of people, oppose open carry, while supporting reasonable second amendment rights. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that 68% of Texans were opposed open carry(http://www.newsmax.com/US/open-carry-guns-texas-poll/2015/02/24/id/626526/). Those numbers are consistent nationally.
There is also a greater concern, and that is that we have fallen prey to politicized and corporatized media on both sides of the political spectrum that is unwilling or incapable of adequately informing the American people. News was never intended to be a commodity that is bought and sold, and which is subject to the whims of the powerful and wealthy to control the populace. News was intended to inform the public on issues critical to responsibly maintaining a healthy, functioning democracy. The Public airwaves changed from the late 1980’s as corporate consolidation gobbled up local and national programming. 94% of all media in the country is controlled by just 3 corporations. Those corporations also pour billions into swaying government opinion. The media outlets they own and control as less news organizations and more company messaging wings.
There is a critical lack of confidence in once trusted institutions. The rightwing decries the liberal media, while the left decries the corporate and rightwing media. Those who commiserate with the suffering of innocent Palestinians and Israelis become outraged as the media and politicians unfairly favor one side over another. Network news refuses still to adequately discuss climate change, and allows deniers unchallenged on programs. That media impugns and denounces, or ignores altogether the fight for fair wages and the Occupy movement, but is sympathetic to a far smaller Tea Party movement of belligerents. There is no confidence any longer in leadership. That is dangerous.
Young people and the disillusioned have fled from that media towards the so-called alternative media of the Internet. The internet, through Facebook and other venues can radicalize the susceptible and gullible. It is quite possible and easy to settle into a cul-de-sac online of information and views that insulate some from any other information, but that which validates and strengthens skewed perspectives on the world and their community. Facebook in 2014 was excoriated for an experiment in which they focused certain types of stories as a means of manipulating users. In the cases of Charleston and Chattanooga, it would seem that was a lesson ISIS in reaching Abdul-Aziz and white supremacists and anti-government types taught to Dylann Roof.
Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.