Once upon a time, the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, could be considered a safe place to raise a family. Decent schools, and one of the only cities in America that has a zoo train to entertain one's children.
Then, on the dark days of 2002, Erie and the surrounding area experienced not one, but six acts of extremist terrorism. Worst of all, America has since forgotten what Erie had to endure.
The first act of domestic terror was March 18, 2002, when Erie police discovered the words 'ELF' and 'Stop Deforestation' on a piece of logging equipment. But the nightmare did not end, as police returned to the same site on March 24 to discover that a hydraulic crane was destroyed by arson.
The reign of terror continued, with a third act of domestic terrorism, was an arson attack of a US Forestry lab in nearby Warren, Pennsylvania.
The siege of the cities of Pennsylvania continued with a fourth and fifth attack in May and September that released 250 mink from a fur farm. Then, in late November of the same year, the barn on the same fur farm was destroyed by arson.
Six acts of terror. For the next decade, Pennsylvania valiantly fought to recover. Despite the best efforts of brave citizens, schools closed. Theatres, factories and airlines went bankrupt. The terrorists had won.
The Reign of Fascism in America
Despite what one reads in the 'biased' media, Nazism is alive and well in the United States. Perhaps no town knows this better than the quaint town of Shirley, Massachusetts.
Shirley is a town of a population of only about 7000. It is a close-knit community, but also a town that is very open to newcomers.
One of those newcomers was John Geoghan, who had been legislatively obligated to move to Shirley as Shirley has what is often called a 'correctional facility' and John Geoghan was what is commonly known as a 'pedophile priest'.
What happened next was quite awful, as John Geoghan would become Shirley's first victim of violent extremism. On August 23, 2003, John Geoghan was killed by his cellmate, Joseph Druce, an admitted white supremacist. In what can only be described in the most vile racist attack Shirley, MA has ever seen, the white Nazi Joseph Druce killed white pedophile John Geoghan in a cowardly attack motivated by extremist Nazi ideologies.
The terror attack cast a dark shadow across all of Massachusetts, and reminded America that racism is not over.
The Facts about Terror
It's easy to be facetious about these examples of 'terror' and 'extremism', but it's not as easy to remain calm as they are cited in the media. The six ELF 'terrorist attacks' are cited in FBI tables as six unique events, but 9/11 is cited as a single line item. This absurdity can be debunked by a single pie chart, yet "94% of events 1980-2005 are non-muslim" remains a stubborn talking point.
One could wish that bad terrorism data remained a misreading of FBI tables that the FBI itself does not promote, but it turns out that the Government Accountability Office wrote this in a report:
Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).
First, note they are counting 'incidents' and not actually death toll. 62 incidents versus 23 incidents. If it were death toll, Islamists would have put a count of 49 in 1 'incident' in Orlando. But the GAO chooses 'incident' here arbitrarily. There are good reasons to believe this assumption that 'incident' count is what matters is offensive and stupid already, but the GAO goes further and makes fatal flaws in its definition of what is an 'incident'.
This is what counts as 4 'far-right' 'white supremacist' incidents:
White supremacists/Neo-Nazis killing white sex offenders result of 4 'extremist' incidents. In the same GAO report, the sum of San Bernardino & Orlando amounts to 2 'extremist' incidents. So, in the weighting and incidents chosen, white racists killing white sex offenders is twice as impactful as San Bernardino & Orlando attacks. This is how it is concluded that 'right wing violent extremist groups' are responsible for '73 percent' of 'violent extremist incidents'.
To further see how ridiculous this is, consider that a founder of a muslim TV network beheaded his wife yet this was not actually counted in the GAO data as an 'extremist' incident. There is no mention of how GAO concluded that Muzzammil Hassan's beliefs were sufficiently normative (i.e. boring old misogynist beheading of a wife) versus Joseph Druce's being sufficiently 'radical' (i.e. extremist strangling of a cellmate).
The categories of 'non-muslim' terror create an equivalence that is both stupid and offensive to many people. On the one hand, using 'incident' classification and count, releasing mink from a fur farm is exactly as notable as 9/11. On the other hand, using 'incident' classification and count, a white guy murdering a pedophile in prison is exactly as notable as the Pulse shooting. What message is this sending to victims? Survivors? Everyone?
There is no excuse for this profound stupidity when terror can be more simply measured. Analyze motivations, and more importantly, measure body count. Measure the actual fear that terror creates.
Lives matter. People matter.
So why don't people count?