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The White House’s List of “Terrorist Incidents” Conveniently Forgot About White Terrorists

We also can't forget about why that list was released in the first place.

dylann roof via cnn

In a sideways move to protect and reinforce President Steve Bannon Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order, the White House released a list of terrorist attacks that they felt the media failed to cover or “give enough attention,” according to whatever arbitrary criteria they’re using (if any at all). As I’m sure you can probably already guess, there’s a whole grip of mistakes written into the document itself. Crude misspellings and errors aside, there’s one glaring omission that perfectly encapsulates America’s attitude towards terrorist attacks: the list didn’t include any terrorist attacks carried out by white people at all.

In the video clip below, you can see CNN’s Alisyn Camerota discuss the omission with Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI). In it, he vehemently defends the idea that “there’s a difference” between white terrorists and terrorists from Middle Eastern countries.

At the absolute very least, Congressman Duffy said he condemned all terrorist attacks. So, great–utter basic human decency criteria met. But his dedication to the narrative that white terrorist attacks are “isolated incidents,” or that they are are somehow inherently different from other extremist attacks, is the exact belief that ends up allowing white extremist terrorism to continue without scrutiny. Even when the terrorists themselves spell out, in a written confession, that they carried out their attacks because of white supremacist beliefs, their actions are still treated and discussed as isolated incidents. They are portrayed as outcasts with aberrant behavior, anomalies with no unifying narrative thread or goals.

And yet entire countries of majority Muslim citizens are banned from entering the United States. And yet we still haven’t had the conversation of how to combat the very real, actualized terror threats from white people here at home. As Kumail Nanjiani tweeted, “Must be pretty cool to be white and just represent yourself and not your entire race.”

Now here’s the thing about this list: it changes the story to be about Islamic extremist terrorism, instead of addressing how incredibly wrong the Muslim Ban really is. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be discussing how white terrorism isn’t any different from other forms of terrorism, but rather we should keep in mind just why the list was released in the first place.

It’s meant to be both a condemnation of the media (really, a way to put them on the defensive as they spend time dissecting how wrong and poorly written it is), as well as a distraction from the matter at hand–which is, again, the Muslim Ban. By getting the media to talk about the list and its utterly preposterous existence, the administration could effectively get everyone to stop criticizing just how bad the Muslim Ban really is. They no longer take heat from it, and they get to distance themselves from the xenophobic executive order that is now failing spectacularly in court.

Again, I think it’s important to call out that utterly destructive thought that white terrorists are “different” from other terrorists, but as we engage in that discussion, we must not forget that people are still fighting to find sanctuary in our country. We can’t forget that there are human lives being unfairly targeted by a sweeping, atrocious, unfair ban on their safety.

Hate-based attacks and incidents continue to rise in America since the election. Racists are finding every excuse to be more open about their hatred these days, and every time somebody defends literal Nazism as “free speech,” the alt-right neo-Nazi white supremacist movement gains a little bit of legitimacy, a little bit of normalization. And it’s in that normalization that utterly ridiculous orders like the Muslim Ban not only come to pass, but come to be thought of as “fine” or—even begrudgingly—okay.

As we discuss the very real, very horrifying realities of white terrorists being emboldened by our very President and the entire government, take that fear to heart. Then take a moment and think about the entire country being full of these emboldened terrorists and how much you’d rather be elsewhere. As we delve deeper and deeper into the future under this administration, make no mistake: white nationalists will only continue to be emboldened. It’s only by denying them normalization and their platform that we can stem that tide of hatred, and we need to act before it’s too late.

(featured image via CNN/screengrab)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.