As many of you know, a Somali-born naturalized American citizen was arrested by the FBI on November 26, 2010, for plotting to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. This story made national news and, a month later, is still in the national limelight.
The arrest of Mohamed Osman Muhamud generated several law enforcement bulletins from various State Fusion Centers citing a rise in homegrown Islamic extremism. The incident also created fear among Americans worried that a terrorist attack might occur in the U.S. during the holiday season.
Few know about another bomb plot in Oregon. This incident occurred during the attempted commission of a bank robbery in the small town of Woodburn, Oregon, on December 12, 2008. At the time, there were a couple of national news networks that covered the story, but reporting was intermittent and national media interest soon faded.
No law enforcement bulletins were issued. No one called it a terrorist plot. In fact, few Americans outside of the Pacific Northwest even knew of the arrests of Bruce and Joshua Turnridge, a father and son duo who placed the device at the bank as part of a larger plot to raise money for an antigovernment revolution. They had also wanted to form a militia group and believed that President Barack Obama was going to ban their gun rights.
During the Turnridges' murder trial in December 2010, it was apparent they had a political motive for using an improvised explosive device during the commission of a bank robbery. This instance mirrored other domestic terrorism cases like the Spokane Bank Robbers in 1996 and the Midwest Bank Bandits in 1997. Government authorities, however, have not publicly classified this incident as domestic terrorism - although this was clearly the case. And, unlike the Portland bomb plot, this event involved a real device. The bomb actually detonated, killing two law enforcement officers and severely injuring a third.
Why was there no sensational, sustained media coverage of the attack? Why have authorities failed to officially recognize this incident as an act of domestic terrorism? The answer is simple. Two white U.S. citizens perpetrated the attack. They are not Muslim. Bruce and Joshua Turnridge are rightwing extremists who hated the government.
It's frustrating to see the blatant media bias between these two seemingly similar incidents - even though one had a much more grave outcome than the other. Why did the less serious incident receive much more national attention and appears to have created increased concern among government authorities?
The disparity between these two cases is just another example of the double-standard related to terrorism determinations made by both our national news networks and government agencies. Perhaps it has become taboo to talk about those among our citizenry who are so angry at their perception of current societal conditions that they plot and actually carry out violent attacks.
On December 22, 2010, Bruce and Joshua Turnridge were sentenced to death for the 2008 fatal bombing. Finally, legal justice overrides a political injustice.