Here in the Carolinas, we’ve been doing a lot of hand-wringing over terrorism and the remote possibility that Syrian refugees are coming to the U.S. to commit terrorist acts. And we should be concerned about terrorism, but not in relation to Syrian refugees; we have our own, home-grown crop of extremists, people who will, with regularity and all over the country, commit mass murder in the name of Christianity or some far-right cause, as Will Saletan points out over at Slate.
In the latest such incident, Robert Lewis Dear—an art dealer with ties to both North and South Carolina, who lived in North Carolina for more than two decades— took hostages at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. He fatally shot three people, including a police officer and a mother of two, and injured nine others before surrendering to police. In reported rantings to police officers about “no more baby parts,” Dear hinted at a motive. Acquaintances say Dear is a devout Christian (though not a churchgoer); he had crosses painted or posted onto his homes.
In June, the young, racist psychopath from South Carolina, Dylann Roof, killed nine churchgoers in Charleston after joining them for an evening prayer service for more than an hour. Last year, Frazier Glenn Miller, a former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who operated a paramilitary training camp in Johnston County, killed three people at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom assisted-living community near Kansas City.
There are more violent militiamen, klansmen, far-right activists, neo-Nazis and Christian zealots from North and South Carolina, as Saletan documents: Justin Moose, Charles Robert Barefoot Jr., Kody Brittingham, Paul Chastain and Daniel Schertz were all foiled in their attempts to commit bombings, shootings and other acts of terror.
In 2003 the anti-Semitic activist Steven Bixby killed two police officers in a standoff in Abbeville, South Carolina. In 2001, Steve Anderson killed a police officer who had pulled him over on his way home from a white supremacist meeting in North Carolina. And during the ‘90s, Eric Rudolph bombed the Atlanta Olympics, a lesbian bar in the same city and a reproductive health clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Rudolph grew up in Macon County, North Carolina; the “Army of God” took credit for his attacks.
To date none of the 800,000 refugees the United States has accepted since 9/11 has been arrested for plotting a terror attack (and there have been no convictions), because refugees who resettle in the United States are painstakingly screened by United Nations authorities, as well as by U.S. counter-terrorism agencies and the Department of Homeland Security, in a process that can take more than two years.
“Terrorists from North Carolina encounter no such scrutiny,” Saletan writes. “They just climb into their cars, cross the border and proceed to Georgia, Kansas, or Colorado. They’re protected by Article IV of the Constitution, which, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, guarantees citizens ‘the right of free ingress to other states.’”
Saletan cites 27 fatal terror attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, with a total of 77 people killed; two thirds, he says, “died at the hands of anti-abortion fanatics, ‘Christian identity’ zealots, white anti-Semites, or other right-wing militants,” just the types we see getting indoctrinated in, and flowing out of, North and South Carolina.
So, as the 2016 election rolls around, instead of pandering to the Republican base about how to deal with Syrian refugees seeking asylum in North Carolina, our gubernatorial candidates should be addressing what to do about the terrorists—the white, far-right, American-born, racist Christian terrorists—that are already here.