No, congressman, there really isn’t a difference

Mourning the dead, Oak Creek, WI, 2012.
Mourning the dead, Oak Creek, WI, 2012.


US Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) had a rough go on CNN the other day when he tried to argue that “there’s a difference” between terrorism committed by Muslims, and what he considered the “one-off” example of terrorism by white extremists like the recent killings of Muslim worshippers in Quebec by a French-Canadian white nationalist.

Watch the exchange between Duffy and CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota:

I wrote about the Quebec incident here, just the latest in a series of posts that I’ve made highlighting the threat of far-right, anti-government, white supremacist terrorism confronting the United States (and now Canada).

Of course the congressman is wrong. As Slate quickly pointed out, there have been nearly 40 incidents of lethal terrorism committed by white extremists in the years since the Oklahoma City bombing.

This list includes the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Duffy’s own state of Wisconsin by white supremacist Wade Michael Page. Six people were killed in that incident.

Duffy’s poor memory and general ignorance on the topic of white extremist terrorism, whether racially, religiously, or politically motivated, is sadly not unusual. Americans tend not to recognize attacks like what Page did in Oak Creek, or for that matter Dylann Roof’s Charleston massacre, as acts of terrorism.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Wisconsin itself was in 2015 home to 16 antigovernment “patriot” groups, two of which, the Three Percenters Club and the Wisconsin Light Foot Militia, it classifies as armed anti-government militias.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at terrorism in Duffy’s state of Wisconsin to see what the good congressman has missed, or chosen to ignore.

Between 1994 and 2012, according to the Global Terrorism Database, there were a full dozen acts of terrorism committed in Wisconsin. Three of these, one in May 1994, one in June, and one more in August of the same year, were carried out by a white supremacist group called the Aryan Republican Army.

Two attacks were made against abortion clinics in March 1999, part of an apparently related series of arson attacks on clinics nationwide in the same month. Whether these were coordinated incidents or simply copycats is unclear. Another attack was made on a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2012.

Individuals acting in the name of the Animal Liberation Front were responsible for three terrorist incidents, the first in August 1999, the second in October, and the third in March 2000. In July 2000 a bomb was planted by a former Air National Guard pilot at an airbase in Milwaukee, accompanied by graffiti calling for an end to US military intervention in Kosovo.

In 2012 white supremacist Wade Michael Page carried out his slaughter in Oak Creek.

A dozen terrorist attacks in Wisconsin between 1994 and 2012 and they all have one thing in common. None were committed by Muslims.

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