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Letter: Muslim attacks are labeled more often as ‘terrorism’

Muslim attacks are labeled more often as ‘terrorism’

The Buffalo News published a July 25 Los Angeles Times article about the recent mass shooting in Lafayette, La. The headline, “Mental illness probed in Louisiana shooting,” refers to mental illness and that’s the main story line, although the story mentions that the shooter had shown interest in white power and neo-Nazi causes. The word “terrorism” was not used.

By contrast, the recent shooting in Chattanooga was immediately investigated as “terrorism.” The shooter clearly had emotional issues, and there is no indication that he was acting on behalf of any foreign group, or indeed any group. But all the government and media attention is on the possibility that violent Islamic groups – which are small and far away, making up a miniscule percentage of Muslims - influenced him.

This is not a new or novel pattern. Attacks by Muslims are called “terrorism;” similar attacks by other Americans are called mental illness, or at the very most “hate crimes.”

We all need to work against the anti-Muslim bigotry that this double standard represents and perpetuates.

Stephen Hart

Board Member, National Religious Campaign Against Torture