With Briggs Land, Brian Wood gets inside the scariest terror threat in America: white nationalists

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/26/real-face-of-american-terror.html

Stories matter: the recurring narrative of radical Islamic terror in America (a statistical outlier) makes it nearly impossible to avoid equating “terrorist” with “jihadi suicide bomber” – but the real domestic terror threat is white people, the Dominionists, ethno-nationalists, white separatists, white supremacists and sovereign citizens who target (or infiltrate) cops and blow up buildings. That’s what makes Brian Wood’s first Briggs Land collection so timely: a gripping story of far-right terror that is empathic but never sympathetic.


Marked for future reference. I’ll keep track of the next five incidents in the USA in which at least ten people are killed for apparent ideological or religious reasons, and classify the killers into:

White nationalists.

Everyone else.

Let’s keep score, Cory.

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That’s maybe (deliberately?) setting the bar to skew heavily towards a particular type of event. I see only one shooting in the last year that qualified (according to GunViolenceArchive.Org, who obviously have a dog in this fight) which was the Orlando massacre.



Yeah, read the collection. Very disturbing casual air of malice around the characters that left me wanting to take a shower after having finished it. I await the TV show that’s in development with interest.

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I don’t think you should restrict your search to shootings. Bombings, stabbings, and deliberately running people over should count as well.

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If you have a readily searchable resource for that then certainly. I was only looking at that site because it sets everything out in a nice clear table.

Why ten?

White supremacist killing of just one person can terrorize a community. It was, and still can be, a motivation for lynching.


Such as: https://www.thenation.com/article/lynching-university-maryland-campus/


Thanks, hadn’t seen that piece. Dave Zirin is always on the good side.


The use of that phrase definitely brings questions. I don’t think Cory is referring to America as a statistical outlier, so it must be radical Islamic terror. I am not a statistician, but my understanding is that a statistical outlier is a data point out of the expected range, which is usually discarded from statistical analysis. In that context, it might be reasonable to discard the number of fatalities in the WTC attacks on 9/11. Including the 9/11 victims does skew the curve considerably, and could cover up other emerging trends.
So, with that as a given, we might expect the terror threat from any population group to mirror their percentage of the total population size.
Pew gives the percentage of Muslims in the US as near 1% of US residents in 2015 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/
It is harder to find hard numbers of White supremacists or White separatists. If you assume that all Evangelical Protestants belong to those groups, Pew puts them at near 25% of the population. But lots of Evangelicals are POC, so I don’t think that is a great number. Also, there are Neo-Pagans to consider.
And Black separatists are not being mentioned.

It seems to me that one of the biggest problems here is that there is no easily searchable database of incidents sharing an agreed-on definition of terrorism.

New America has a page that might bear scrutiny: https://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/terrorism-in-america/what-threat-united-states-today/

6 posts were split to a new topic: Terrorism, Black Nationalism and Liberation

Interesting math indeed. You’d think he’d have gone for 3/5.

(in case that needs elaboration)


Hey, let’s all agree that any group causing violence against another group or individuals is bad, and also acknowledge that while we should be aware of them, we over all are living in the least violent times in the US for over the past 100 years.

One group may indeed be more dangerous than the other statistically, but overall their violence is still relatively rare.



We should all question the master narrative that says it somehow makes sense to declare war on an abstract noun.


Certainly not. I was looking for the estimated numbers of White Supremacists in the US, and that information does not seem available. There might be a way to quantify it as a percentage of White evangelicals, but I am not sure.

Just subscribe to the Intelligence Report. They will keep score for you, or at least they do a fairly decent job of tracking violent hate groups and incidents (including white-on-black and black-on-white, although I agree with @Mister44’s comment in this regard).

Generally speaking I run into scary white nationalists much more than any other kind of racialist haters, but the main guy I interact with is actually an elderly Jewish man… so for the first third of his life he wasn’t considered “white”. There’s something ironic about that, but I can’t quite express it.

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Because Dylan Roof killed 9.


Gawd, that does make a kind of sick sense.


Yeah, you have to go back a long way to even meet that number in the United States because terrorism through mass killing is rare (and a lot of ideology based spree killings are not called terrorism).

2016: Pulse, individual inspired by ISIS propoganda
2015: San Bernardino, couple inspired by ISIS propoganda (with heavy signs of personal grudges outside terror)
2009: Fort Hood, individual inspired by War on Terror
2002: Beltway Sniper, pair of serial killers that were called jihadists just because
2001: duh
1995: OK bombing, white nationalist
1975: LGA bombing, white nationalist (Croatian nationalists)
1927: Bath school disaster, white dude with unclear intentions
1921: Tulsa race riots, white nationalists
1920: Wall Street bombing, anarchists

So if you narrow the scope you have 5 Islamic, 3 white nationalists, 1 angry white guy, and 1 set of anarchists. However, if you add in the many, many, many terror attacks involving white nationalist circles the history of this country extending back centuries.

Even this is shaky, because the beltway sniper was a serial killer and not an Islamic terrorists. However the period of time it took place was what got it lumped in with terrorists. The prosecution never presented that way, and the dominant killer attribute jihad and The Matrix as equal weight for what he did.