Satwant Kaleka, who served as president of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, arrived in the United States from India three decades ago with thirty-five dollars in savings. By last Sunday, he owned several gas stations, according to the Los Angeles Times. He turned up early that morning at his temple to oversee worship and preparations for a large birthday party.
Wade Michael Page, a former bassist and guitarist in a white-supremacist rock band, drove to Oak Creek just after 10:15 A.M. He pulled out a pistol and shot worshipers remorselessly. An eleven-year-old-boy, Abhay Singh, watched him shoot one victim seven or eight times.
Kaleka tried to tackle the gunman. Page shot him, too; Kaleka dragged himself away, but he bled to death. He was sixty-two years old.
The Oak Creek murders reflect upon another neglected subject: the surprising pattern of terrorism in America since September 11th. In partnership with a team of researchers at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Policy, some of my colleagues at the New America Foundation collated and analyzed three hundred and two cases of domestic terrorism during the decade after the September 11th attacks. The numbers do not correspond with the public’s fear or understanding.
The entire decade-long domestic death toll from terrorism (that is, where a political or ideological motive was apparent) was thirty. By comparison, the rate of annual deaths from mass shootings by non-ideological deranged killers—such as the gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado, last month—runs more than thirty times higher (on average, about a hundred deaths each year). In all, there are about fifteen thousand murders in America each year.
Of the three hundred domestic-terrorism cases studied, about a quarter arose from anti-government extremists, white supremacists, or terrorists animated by bias against another religion. And all of the most frightening cases—involving chemical, biological, and radiological materials—arose from right-wing extremists or anarchists. None arose from Islamist militancy.
Why do these statistics seem so poorly publicized? Is the media a symptom of this problem or a cause? Why, to choose only the most recent indicator, would the Times fail to place on the front page any enterprise story about Oak Creek Wednesday morning, only the second day after the shooter’s racist background became known? (The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times did put massacre stories on A-1.) It is not hard to imagine the floodtide of sidebar stories and the legions of reporters summoned off the campaign or home from vacation by now if Page had been a converted Muslim and the sanctuary he attacked were in a Christian church.
A pattern of terrorism that is repetitive, rising in ambition, and neglected by the public can signal a coming strategic surprise—this was true of Al Qaeda during the late nineteen-nineties, and it looks to be true of domestic racist terrorism today.
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/08/the-real-terrorist-threat-in-america.html#ixzz234n52RuS