Americans were confronted last week with two competing stories, which, when combined, painted a rather disjointed picture. The first story was the Republican campaign to block Syrian refugees' access to American soil, fearing a possible, albeit highly unrealistic, security threat posed by anyone from the Middle East.
The second story relates to a series of events, including white American men shooting at Black Lives Matter protesters in Minnesota, white American men stalking a Texas house of worship while carrying weapons, and a white American man shooting 12 people, three of them fatally, at a medical office in Colorado Springs.
The distance between the two serves as a timely reminder of a fact that too often goes overlooked: when confronted with the "terrorist" threat, many instinctively think of foreign enemies and Middle Eastern fanatics. And while it's unwise to turn a blind eye to threats posed by ISIS, al Qaeda, and its ilk, it's also important to re-examine those assumptions and recognize a domestic threat that has nothing to do with a stereotypical caricature.
This Huffington Post report ran just three days before Friday's murders.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently praised U.S. security officials for keeping the country safe in the years since the 9/11 attacks, but also highlighted the threats posed by white men who carry out mass shootings. [...]
"I think most of us recognize that we're concerned but we also know that we trust the FBI and our security forces to do this right," Brown told WAKR radio last week. "Since the beginning of the Bush administration when we were attacked, Sept. 11, we've not had any major terrorist attack in this country. We've had individual crazy people; normally, they look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners. They are generally white males, who have shot up people in movie theaters and schools. Those are terrorist attacks; they're just different kinds of terrorists."
This caused a bit of a stir -- it's not every day that a sitting U.S. senator talks about terrorists "generally" being white men -- but Brown's point seemed all the more important in light of Friday's violence in Colorado.