Racial Profiling and Domestic Terrorism: Making White Terror Invisible While Blaming the Victim

Grosscup_Beau_bigpictureBy Dr. Beau Grosscup

Since the 9/11 attacks, racial profiling has become an accepted component of the War on Terror. Given that the perpetrators of 9/11 were assumed to be members of Al Qaeda, anyone looking “Middle Eastern” or Arab or Muslim was/is racially profiled as suspicious. This may be useful when conducting the War on Terror in foreign lands, although white-based terrorism (Irish, Russian, Jewish and Italian mafia, German neo-Nazis, etc.) is a constant reality. But in combating domestic terrorism, racial profiling of people of color makes no objective sense.

According to 20 years of FBI domestic terrorism accounts and recent Homeland Security (DHS) reports, individuals and groups listed as responsible for domestic terrorism are overwhelmingly white. Indeed, the FBI says the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) are “of particular concern.” The same is true of DHS lists of current (and past) right wing domestic terrorism. Indeed, most counter-terrorism in the United States is said to be “militia-watching” but for “other reason” rather than the “whiteness” of militia members. Officially their “race” disappears as a factor of their terrorism. Not so for people of color for whom race matters a lot in determining their terrorism link.

To prove this point, let’s engage in a little racial profiling of those the FBI lists as domestic terrorists:


  • l Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front ELF = White
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) = White
  • Earth First = White
  • Coalition to Save the Preserves (CSP) = White

Militia Terrorism

  • Michigan Militia = White
  • Montana Militia = White

Racist Terrorism

  • Aryan Nations = Whitest of White
  • Ku Klux Klan = Whitest of White
  • National Alliance = Whitest of White

Religious Terrorism

  • Jewish Defense League = Righteous White
  • Christian Identity = Righteous White

Not listed by FBI but documented as engaging in terrorism:

Anti – environmentalist groups

  • Wise Use = White
  • Sahara Club USA = White
  • Yellow Ribbon Coalition = White

Anti immigration terrorism

  • Minutemen = Whitest of White
  • National Socialist Movement = Whitest of White

This list is the tip of the iceberg of white groups (just add militant survivalists, gun rights advocates, anti-New World Order conspiracists, anti-tax advocates, anti-choice groups and anti-government (left and right) groups).

It is no wonder right-wing media and these “citizens” groups complained so loudly at the DHS warning that President Obama’s election would fuel a resurgence in right-wing violence. The chance that they and their whiteness would become part of the visible landscape of domestic terrorism was contrary to their belief that being white is not a race issue, but the norm of objectivity, fairness, indeed patriotism. To them, terrorism is the work of the “others,” thus racial profiling of them is necessary. Yet, reality (and the FBI and DHS) reveals something very different. If the peace community is to effectively counter the major purveyors of domestic terrorism, it is a reality that must be made visible.Φ

Beau Grosscup is Professor of International Relations at California State University, Chico. He authored The Newest Explosion of Terrorism (1987, 89, 94, 2002) and Strategic Terror: Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment (2006). He co-hosts a peace and social justice show on KZFR community radio.

Photos courtesy of: www.csuchico.edu/…/Grosscup/Grosscup.JPh; Racial Profiling graphic courtesy of h ttp://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://theinsanityreport.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/racial_profiling.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.theinsanityreport.com/home/index.php/2009/07/24/politics/the-cambridgegates-racial-profiling-case-my-perspective/&usg=__Zlr1uXvnwZpmS9IQuUW2lAKPXrc=&h=480&w=640&sz=18&hl=en&start=17&sig2=t-lLCqbjljpmFrnAeVtBtg&um=1&tbnid=1LgzeJqfmc3lkM:&tbnh=103&tbnw=137&prev=/images%3Fq%3DRACIAL%2BPROFILING%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1&ei=KLG7SsLOGpO6tAOM1tX7Aw

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