This week, a story broke about a US Coast Guard named Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson and his alleged plot to attack prominent Democrats and media personalities to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely ever seen.” Upon searching his apartment, authorities found 15 guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, with prosecutors not only calling him a “self-proclaimed white supremacist” but a “domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life.”
While many in power remain silent on Hasson, they have been vocal about the case of Hoda Muthana, who also made headlines recently as for being denied a return to America after travelling to Syria as an “Isis bride”. Muthana left her hometown of Alabama in 2014 to join the terror group. She says she is now vehemently opposed to Isis and would like to return to the US — not with a free pass, but in order to go through the judicial system. She has been denied that right and stripped of her birthright citizenship by President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (“I have instructed Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back in the country!” Trump tweeted yesterday.) It remains to be seen whether this will stand up after a legal challenge from her family.
The far right in the US likes to spread the idea that Muslims — and in particular Muslim immigrants — are uniquely dangerous to America, and that they can never fully integrate. Even born and bred American citizens who happen to be Muslim are up for suspicion. Hoda Muthana, who lives in a refugee camp with her baby, has seemingly dominated the minds of senior politicians for days, while Christopher Paul Hasson, who had allegedly made plans to kill multiple people and stockpiled the necessary weaponry, has seemingly flown under the radar.
But the truth is that the events which occurred in Charlottesville were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of a large-scale white supremacist movement to “Make America Great Again.” Because make no mistake: MAGA is not just a slogan. One has to have a huge amount of power and privilege to be able to utter that phrase in the first place. For minorities, there has never been a point where America has “been great.” To make it “great again” would be reducing the civil rights of black folks and immigrants, while furthering the power of white people—who are overwhelmingly still in power.
MAGA is a calling to the rise of whiteness and the fear of losing power by 2045, when they will no longer be the majority population.
Truth be told, racism has always been in America—it’s ingrained in its DNA from the original sins of genocide and enslavement of indigenous people and Africans. Yet our country has done an alt-history in so many cases. In streets and squares across America, monuments are built in honour of white men whose actions were abhorrent, racist and unconscionable to civilized human beings. We would call them very different things if they were black or brown.
Although white men are responsible for many of the most heinous massacres in this country, then, the face of terrorism has been painted Muslim. The face of violence and crime domestically is often painted black in turn, with the myth of “black-on-black” crime often used as a way to deflect from the overwhelming number of crimes committed by white individuals. The story of Christopher Hasson is a very real threat for many of us who know the truth of this country, how racism permeates through institutions that are supposed to be in place to protect us.
It is important that we don’t just write off the story of Christopher Hasson as a “lone wolf” tale, one man gone bad for indiscernible reasons. He is a micro part of the macro problem that has become the growing white nationalist movement in America. If we don’t acknowledge his existence, and the forces which empowered him, then we do everyone in our country a disservice. To focus our eyes on a singular “Isis bride” — or on Jussie Smollett and the supposed pain he’s caused Trump supporters — is to stubbornly look away from the huge problem staring us in the face. Let’s be brave enough to face the reality, even if it isn’t convenient to white people.
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