Brandon Russell, 21, is a self-professed neo-Nazi. His roommates, who shared his beliefs, were aware that Russell was stockpiling ammo and bomb-making materials in their Tampa, Florida apartment. He surfed white supremacist websites and kept a picture of Oklahoma domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh framed in his room. Among his friends, in real-life and online, Russell fantasized about blowing up government buildings, like his hero McVeigh.
The story takes an odd and dark turn. One of Russell's roommates, Devon Arthurs, 18, at one time shared these beliefs, but at some time in the last year converted to a militant form of Islam and found the bigotry and hatred of Russell and other roommates Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneshuk (bigotry and hatred he agreed with not that long ago) intolerable. Arthurs killed Himmelman and Oneshuk for making fun of his newly-found Muslim beliefs.
At the time of his arrest, Arthurs told the investigators of Russell's stockpile in the garage and his open desire to wreak destruction on the federal government. Russell was arrested and indicted for bomb possession, for which he plead "not guilty" in a federal court and requested release on bail.
And Federal Judge Thomas McCoun granted it, stating there was no clear and convincing evidence “the defendant represents a threat to any person or community.”
The self-described Nazi sympathizer who openly fantasizes about killing people and destroying buildings online and stockpiles weapons and the same materials that McVeigh used to kill 168 Americans, but he's shown no clear threat to anyone?
Clearly, what exonerates him is the color of his skin. McCoun is just like so many other Americans, who see terrorism only through the lens of the amount of melanin in your skin. And like so much conventional wisdom, it does not hold up to the scrutiny of facts.
We keep being told that we must fight radical Islamic terrorism. The very invocation of that phrase apparently holds magical powers. But studies have shown that we're all in far greater risk at the hands of white supremacist, conservative, gun-toting white guys than Muslims.
So the question must be asked: when will we do something about radical Christianist terrorists in this country?