I wonder what would have happened if the armed men who faced down federal agents in Nevada recently were black? Or Mexican?
I know what happened to an African immigrant named Amadou Diallo who reached into his pocket for ID when police confronted him in New York City some years ago. His body was riddled with bullets.
Am I suggesting that the federal agents were wrong to stand down in the incident at Cliven Bundy’s ranch? Of course not. Bloodshed should always be the last resort. But I seem to detect a troubling perception here, a preconception of white insurgents as patriots, and of black males as thugs.
Apparently, the insurgents who pointed loaded weapons at federal agents carrying out a court order have not even been charged. They’re back home writing incendiary blogs and advocating the overthrow of the government. And I am confident some of them are actively plotting to do harm to fellow-Americans as I write this blog.
Somewhere another atrocity is being planned, another Oklahoma City bombing, another Jewish community center massacre, or something equally monstrous.
How would such people be treated if they were Arabs or Pakistanis in some remote Yemen village? I bet President Obama would not hesitate to dispatch drones to annihilate their families and their neighbors.
Both groups are, by definition, terrorists, as Senate Speaker Harry Reid has observed.
But, of course, a drone strike (or any other assassination attempt) against a white supremacist plotter would be unthinkable.
Apparently, it’s not because the white supremacists are American citizens and, as such, enjoy special constitutional protections. Anwar al-Awaki was an American citizen when he was killed in Yemen in 2011. Also killed in US drone strikes were his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman,and two other Americans, Samar Khan and Jude Mohammed. Obviously being Americans gave them no invincible shield.
In America today, the government would not dare to assassinate a white supremacist who is actively plotting to overthrow the government and harm Americans. It would spark massive public outrage.
Apparently, the government is powerless even to round up and prosecute these lawbreakers as a preemptive measure. They are usually pursued only after they commit some horrendous atrocity.
But the authorities can routinely gun down non-white men – at home and abroad – suspected of being threatening to America or Americans.
Indeed, in many states, private citizens seem to have the same kind of right. It’s called “standing their ground.”
Sadly, I am left with the suspicion that it might be the color of their skin that makes America’s white supremacist insurgents untouchable.