Friday, February 19, 2010

Terrorist attack in Austin, TX

Despite the title of this CNN article - Remains of 2 found after Austin plane crash - this was a domestic terror attack, in which at least one innocent person was killed, others were injured, and many more were terrorized, all in the name of hatred of the U.S. government.

A brave man and Iraq war veteran, Robin Dehaven, rushed into the burning building and saved people from the fire caused by this act of suicide terrorism.
Witnesses described a scene of panic, fire and smoke. Lyric Olivarez, who was working in a nearby building, told CNN affiliate KXAN that she felt her building shake when the plane crashed.

"It sounded like an explosion, but it felt like an earthquake," Olivarez said. "Someone came into our office and said there was a bomb in the building next door. We had no idea it was a plane at the time."

When she and others ran outside, they saw the neighboring building in flames.

"People on the second and third floors were busting out windows, screaming, 'Help me! Help me! Get me out of here!' waving handkerchiefs or whatever they could find," Olivarez told KXAN.

"Not before long, the entire parking lot was filled with smoke, and people praying and crying," she said.

"I just saw smoke and flames," said CNN iReporter Mike Ernest. "I could not believe what I was seeing. It was just smoke and flames everywhere."

Dehaven said that as he was driving before the crash, he could see the plane flying low, approaching the building.

"I saw it turn and start heading down like it was diving to come in for a landing, but there's no landing [strip]," he said. "So I knew it was going to crash."

He said his 6½ years in the Army, with two tours in Iraq, helped him Thursday.

"I've had some experience in triage and battlefield, with ... gunfire," he said. "My first thought [was] maybe I can help, because I'm more used to dealing with traumatic situations like that.

"I have a clear head and a calm head to try to help those people, and luckily I did."
Can anyone doubt that if this plane had been piloted into a federal building by a Muslim angry at the U.S. government for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, CNN and all other news media would be calling it a terrorist attack?

I remember the last terror attack on a federal building - on April 19, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh drove a truck full of explosives into the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. 168 people died. I was living in Somerville, Mass., at the time, and was on the road either to or from a temporary teaching job at Bates College in Maine. I heard the account on the radio of what happened.

I hope that this domestic terror attack is not the harbinger of more such attacks, driven by the anti-government hate rhetoric of the radical right.

Want evidence that such sentiments are out there? LGF posted an article about a Tea Party meeting in Washington State where one woman called for the hanging of U.S. Senator Patty Murphy. At this same meeting there was a sign calling for the castration of President Obama (remember, that's what often happened to the black men who were lynched by the thousands from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries - and to the everlasting shame of the United States, Congress never passed an anti-lynching law, because of the legislative power of the southern states).

The SPLC puts this attack in context:
This morning’s attack by Joseph Andrew Stack against an IRS office building in Austin, Tex., is a reminder again of how extreme hatred of government can morph into violence. Since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented 75 domestic terrorist plots, most of which involved individuals with extreme antigovernment views. One of the plots, if carried out, would have resulted in the deaths of some 30,000 people.

Stack’s actions come as the number of antigovernment “Patriot” and militia groups is rising fast, as revealed by the SPLC this past summer. In the 1990s, the combustible mix of rising antigovernment anger and the growth in militias was a recipe for disaster that ultimately resulted in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, who was motivated by antigovernment hatred.

“This attack comes amid the absolutely explosive growth of the right-wing militias and the larger antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement, which includes thousands of so-called tax protesters who believe the federal income tax is illegal” said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “There is a populist rage out there about what is seen as the coddling of rapacious elites, like the mortgage bankers who kept receiving multimillion dollar bonuses, even as working Americans seem to keep losing more and more.”
Let's see how many conservatives condemn this as a terrorist attack.


  1. Thanks for sharing this information and hope to read more from you.

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  2. Rebecca,

    You write: "Can anyone doubt that if this plane had been piloted into a federal building by a Muslim angry at the U.S. government for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, CNN and all other news media would be calling it a terrorist attack?"

    While I certain agree with your view that the attack has all the markings of a terrorist attack, the press has, in fact, not consistently termed attacks by single persons as terrorist attacks.

    And, that has been the case even with people of Muslim background. Remember the incident at LA-X some years ago when a Muslim man - I believe an Egyptian - shot up the El Al counter? It was a clear terrorist attack. The same for the incident at the Seattle Jewish center. The press treated these incidents as something else.

    More interestingly, the press insanely resisted calling the recent, well planned Ft. Hood attack by Dr. Hasan who was clearly religio-ideologically driven. That led to quite a stir since it was rather obviously an act of terrorism, whether or not the man was also a loony-tune. Likely, the man who just now flew a plane into that building was also nuts.

    So, I think you are not be careful in your thinking on this issue. The press has typically avoided calling most attacks - even where there is no other reasonable interpretation - terrorism. The press even resisted calling the attackers who committed the horrors in Mumbai Muslim and did not think the attack their on the Chabad Center was chosen because of the religion of the Chabad organization. C'est la vie. The press has its own agenda and why it does what it does is often driven more by business needs, politics, public relations, etc., than efforts to gather and report news.

    I might add, I inquired with a major newspaper why papers stopped calling terrorists by the name "terrorists." I was told - and this was before the adoption of the word "militant" was widely criticized and a public relations version of the reason began to circulate - that reporters who did not call terrorists "terrorist" but, instead, "militants" were given better access terrorist groups. I also heard the same thing said on the radio - again, before the cover story was developed that the label is more accurate. And, the papers do know the difference. The BBC and other British news sources, immediately after the London subway bombing, called the attackers terrorists and then, some hours later, changed the term to militants.

    Now, it seems to me that when a person flies a plane into a building to destroy the building if not also the people that may be inside, the person is a terrorist and the attack is a terrorist attack. But, the press has been inconsistent with the matter, as has been the government.

  3. You're right of course, but I think this is a big blind spot on the part of both the press and the government. I was quite appalled when the attack on the El Al counter at LAX wasn't labeled terrorism by the police.

  4. Rebecca,

    I read this interest post by Lee Harris, who has written a highly acclaimed - and, I might add, an interesting, well written and disturbing - book which is really a very long essay. His writing is akin, in readability, to those of Paul Berman although Harris has a very different point of view. Whether or not we might remotely agree with his point of view, he is certainly rather brilliant.

    As for the article he wrote about the Texas airplane killer, he places the Texas attack outside of left or right wing violence. He, however, sees this as a wake-up call for the political system, which is faced with something rather new and deep seated, something that may have legs, violent legs at that.