Tragically, it is an all-too-common occurrence: someone suffers some kind of mental crisis, they go to their workplace, and they kill their colleagues. It happens often enough that such incidents rarely become national news – deadly workplace violence has somehow become almost routine.
But in Oklahoma last week, a disgruntled employee allegedly killed a co-worker and is accused of trying to kill another, and the violence has taken on national significance in ways other workplace slayings usually don’t. In this case, because the alleged perpetrator is Muslim and he tried to behead a victim, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) wants President Obama to treat the workplace violence as terrorism.
“At some point in time, the administration does have to address this as what is appears to many people that it is – and that is an act of violence that is associated with terrorism,” Perry said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” […]“I think Americans are confused about what this is,” Perry said. “This is a clear case of an individual going in and doing something that does not meet their definition of ‘workplace violence,’ so I think any rational thinking American is going to look at this and go, ‘This is more than just normal workplace violence.’”
Fox News’ Steve Doocy suggested the murder might be connected to Islamic State militants, leading the Texas governor to argue the incident “seems to fall into that type of activity.”
Perry added, “ISIS is a legitimate threat – it is not just a legitimate threat in that region of the world, it is a legitimate threat in the United States.”
Maybe now would be a good time to pause for a reality check.
As Rachel noted on the show the other day, the suspected assailant in this case is 30-year old Alton Nolen, who has a long criminal history and who was released from prison in Oklahoma just last year. He had a job at Vaughn Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, where Nolen allegedly killed a co-worker, cut off the victim’s head, and then tried to kill another co-worker.
Local police reached out to the FBI, and the investigation is ongoing, but before political figures go too far down the road of partisan exploitation, it’s worth emphasizing that there’s literally nothing – at least at this point – that connects Nolen’s brutal rampage to any larger threat. There are no indications that the accused killer had any ties to terrorist organizations; there are no indications that he was acting on instructions from someone else; there are no indications he was trying to terrify others outside his workplace.
Sometimes in these debates, Rick Perry can be a canary in the coal mine – he starts throwing around baseless allegations, and soon after, other Republicans do the same. With that in mind, it wouldn’t come as too big a shock if the right started using the murder in Moore, Oklahoma, as an example of domestic terrorism that should somehow be blamed on the White House.
But cooler heads should at least wait for evidence first.