I scan the news, afraid of what I’ll miss if I turn away. I sift through the white-noise of Facebook. I scroll through countless tweets with incendiary hashtags. I feel a deluge of fear and anger rushing towards me from politicians, media pundits, and regular citizens alike.
They tell me to fear immigrants. They push these men, women, and children into the shadows. Or they drag them away in broad daylight, while their daughter watches in terror. They check their papers like stars pinned to their clothing.
They spew hatred for those in hiding, those unable to qualify or afford DACA, the ones hoping for the passing of the Bridge Act. Some claim undocumented immigrants are violent criminals. But they aren’t the ones I’m afraid of . . . no, I’m afraid for them. Who am I scared of? It’s not immigrants. It’s not refugees, escaping horrors we can’t even imagine. I’m scared of angry white men.
When I was preparing to go to the Women’s March in Los Angeles, I wrote my emergency contact in sharpie on my arm “just in case.” My friend and I came up with a plan in the event we were separated amid chaos. I was afraid of an angry white man with an arsenal in his closet, filled with hate for women. Thankfully, this time there was no reason to be afraid.
A Litany of Hate
Elliot Rodger. Ted Kazinsky. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Eric Robert Rudolph. Adam Lanza. Dylann Roof. James Holmes. They are the men who hate. They are men with extreme views, personal vendettas, and/or severe mental illness. They hate women, or the government, or innocent children attending school, or African Americans gathering to pray.
Elliot Rodger spent thousands of dollars in preparation for his rampage. He planned meticulously for a year. He armed and trained himself in order to kill as many people as possible. He took revenge on the men and women he felt wronged him, those he knew and strangers alike.
White supremacist Dylann Roof, who was convicted of killing nine worshippers at a historic Charleston church’s Bible study, had even bigger plans. Prosecutors presented evidence at his trial that showed he had lists of other primarily black churches to target when he was arrested.
On October 14th, 2016, three white men calling themselves “Crusaders” were charged with conspiring to bomb a Kansas Somali immigrant community, allegedly referring to Somalis as “cockroaches.”
John Russell Houser opened fire on women at a movie theater, killing two. He reportedly had issues with women’s rights and a history of mental issues. Robert Louis Dear attacked a Planned Parenthood, killing three and wounding nine. Larry Steve McQuilliams shot 100 rounds at government buildings in downtown Austin, and tried to set a Mexican consulate on fire.
Immigrants: Not the Real Threat
I do not see immigrants and refugees as the enemy. I see them as people trying to create a better life and dealing with systems that are set up against them. I see a little Syrian boy, covered in debris from bombings.
They tell me we need to build walls. But the numbers say something else. Studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those born here, and the evidence does not show that undocumented immigrants commit a larger share of crimes. The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has found that 74% of the 372 extremist-related murders from 2007 to 2016 were committed by right-wing extremist.
Of course, we all know about the horrific events in Orlando, the Boston bombing, and the attacks in San Bernardino. No one is downplaying those tragedies. But I believe the FBI, Homeland Security, and NSA have massive intelligence departments and budgets dedicated to investigating these types of threats.
By my estimation, some of the scarier people in this world are the angry white men hidden in plain sight. They buy white supremacist books, they have easy access to an arsenal, they listen to Alex Jones or read Breitbart on the regular. They fanboy over Richard Spencer. They cheer on billboards like these. And when they sexually assault a mentally disabled African American boy for their own amusement, they are given probation. Maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll be made an example of after terrorizing an African American child’s birthday party. Maybe, but probably not.
I’m not afraid of immigrants or refugees. I’m afraid of homegrown hatred.