By Frank Wickizer – Earlier this year, at East High School and at UNL, students were called terrorists for wearing a hijab. In Omaha, the Islamic Center was vandalized with crudely painted Eiffel Tower peace symbols after the events in Paris.
This phenomenon is created from the disproportionate, systemic surveillance of Muslim people.
From TSA agents targeting Muslims at airports to FBI agents jumping to conclusions on cases of domestic terrorism, the issues of profiling Muslims is widespread, much too widespread. The surveillance state’s authority is so ingrained in our society that we have become the surveillance state through hate crimes, which, in turn causes more surveillance. It’s a vicious cycle.
In The Trial by Franz Kafka, the main character, named K, is scared to even write his true feelings in his journal because he is constantly being surveilled. He’s under arrest, but not in custody. The Trial is here, it is not some far-off dystopian future; it is the now.
One thing that Kafka didn’t take into account is the fact that K is not a white man anymore, but a Muslim man. The post-9/11 era has been rife with issues of persecuting people of color with the only justification being the events that occurred on Sept. 11th.
What people at large generally don’t realize is who has caused the issues since those attacks. Since 9/11, the group of extremists that has caused the most deaths is by far white supremacists at 84%. Second does go to extremist Muslims at 7%, but that is 1/12 of white supremacist killings and 13 out of 14 of those deaths were from a singular event.
Third place goes to white anti-government extremists with 6%. Fourth place goes to disidentified extremists at three percent, the majority of the deaths in this category being anti-abortion extremist killings (not so pro-life I guess). This goes to show the problem is not necessarily people of color, just because of one event that many millennials don’t remember and don’t understand.
White supremacism is such a big problem because of the distinction between ideological killings and strictly criminal killings. Ideological killings are encouraged by a certain ideology. Criminal killings have strictly criminal intent.
Then there are also killings with mixed reasoning, that have ideological intent and criminal intent.
Extremist Muslim killings have been strictly ideological, meaning 14 out of 15 were ideological and none had any strictly criminal reasoning. This shows two things to two very different people: either people see this as a stubborn ideologically based group that will take a stand no matter the consequences, or as a group that may be misguided in their means to an end but at the very least they do not spread criminal intent.
As for white supremacist killings, there’s more of a separation. More than 48% of the killings had an intent related to ideology alone, such as the killing of informants or a disagreeing person. More than 41% of the killings had strictly criminal intent, such as killing relatives or police officers in non-ideologically based missions. The other 9% of killings had mixed intents with both ideological and criminal intent to them.
This distinguishing separation shows a few things. Most evidently, this shows that white supremacy groups attract people that are more prone to violent tendencies; there is no other reason that there would be such a large group of killings by this group that are not ideologically based at all. Furthermore, the widespread ideologies that are ingrained in society to create a violent fear of Muslims, are not entirely well defendable.
One factor that feeds into current ideologies is that few people understand just how far back Muslim culture in the U.S. extends. Many believe that it started with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam in the 1900s, but few know some slaves in the Middle Passage were Muslim scholars.. Many of these slaves were more educated than their masters and were beaten for knowing how to read and write.
We’re fortunate here at LHS, because most here are used to seeing people wearing hijabs and other traditional Muslim clothing, but few still understand that American History is Muslim history. The two are not mutually exclusive, and they deserve the exact same rights everyone else does, that includes the Fourth Amendment protection of reasonable privacy.
Of course, homegrown terrorism should not continue unchecked and unmonitored, but it is obvious that the surveillance state is disproportionately affecting the wrong people, because persecuting an entire group of people that have an intertwined history with the history of our country is not right just because of a few extremists within that group.
If that is the justification for surveillance then, the surveillance state not only needs to shift its gaze away from every single Muslim and person of color, but also shift its gaze to the true domestic issue of terrorism, white supremacy.