Did you hear about the mosque bombing in Florida last week?
If not, then why not?
Actually, I think I can answer that second question. Chances are that you didn't hear about this act of domestic terrorism because major newspapers and networks haven't covered it.
A bomb in Times Square failed to explode recently, and just about everyone in the U.S. heard about it. A bomb in a mosque succeeded in exploding last week, and next to no one in the U.S. has heard about it.
Why the difference? Why the double standard?
My presumption that next to no Americans have heard about the Florida mosque bombing isn't quite accurate. Many, many Muslims in the U.S. have heard about it. And many of them are expressing dismay that so few others have heard about it.
At MuslimMatters, Hesham A. Hassaballa writes,
On the evening of May 10, there was a small explosion and fire outside a Jacksonville, FL mosque. According to a fire department investigation and officials of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, worshipers heard a loud noise outside the mosque, and there was a small fire that was extinguished. The damage was described as “very minimal” by a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue spokesperson. Thank God, no one was injured in the attack.
According to the Council on American Islamic Relations, mosque officials reported that an unknown white man in his 40s entered the mosque on April 4 and shouted “Stop this blaspheming.” He was chased away by worshipers, but he reportedly said, “I will be back.” Now, it has been determined that the explosion was due to a pipe bomb, and it is being investigated as a possible act of domestic terrorism. “It was a dangerous device, and had anybody been around it they could have been seriously injured or killed,” says Special Agent James Casey.
Yet, you would not be faulted for not knowing that it even occurred. Most of the news coverage has been local in Florida. There has not been nearly the same amount of coverage at the failed bombing in Times Square.
Now, of course, the size of this pipe bomb is nothing compared to the size of the truck bomb allegedly placed by Faisal Shahzad. The mosque bombing was perpetrated by one individual, and it increasingly looks like the Taliban in Pakistan were behind the attempted bombing in Times Square. Obviously, an attack on Times Square in the middle of a tourist/theater district is much more of a story than an attack on a mosque in Florida.
But just as the Times Square bomb could have really done harm, the pipe bomb could have also done a lot of harm. FBI officials noted that the blast radius could have been 100 feet. In addition, The FBI Special Agent in Florida, James Casey, had added: “We want to sort of emphasize the seriousness of the thing and not let people believe that this was just a match and a little bit of gasoline that was spread around.” The attempted attack on Times Square was rightly called an act of terrorism. But, as this news report says: “The FBI is looking at this case as a possible hate crime, and now they’re analyzing it as a possible act of domestic terrorism.”
A pipe bomb that explodes outside a mosque causing a fire a possible act of domestic terrorism? What if a pipe bomb exploded in Times Square? Or outside a church? Would this be called terrorism? Of course it would. . . and it should. So should this attack on the Jacksonville, FL mosque.
At examiner.com, J. Samia Mair entitled her article on this double standard with my post's opening question (which I borrowed from her title): "Did you hear about the mosque bombing in Florida last week?"
Mair notes that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has announced a $5,000 reward for information regarding this act of terrorism, and she also notes that CAIR has
“questioned the silence of public officials and national media about a bomb attack.” CAIR reported that “media coverage has for the most part been restricted to Florida and that there have been no public condemnations of the bombing at the national level.”
Like Mair, and like most of us, I haven't seen or read any national news regarding this terrorist bombing of a mosque. I suspect this silence is a symptom of the white-framed corporate media's rigidly limited narrative for "terrorism," which conceptualizes it as a "Muslim" thing, as well as an "Arabic" thing.
The racist result of this limited framing is that acts of terrorism inflicted on non-white spaces and people don't receive the attention they deserve. And in turn, one result of that lack of attention is that the perpetrators -- like the one in this Florida bombing -- often elude identification and arrest, sometimes for far longer than the people who perpetrate, or even plan to perpetrate, more stereotypical forms of terrorism.
I'll leave the last words on this xenophobic and racist double standard to J. Samia Mair:
I don’t recall seeing anything [about the Florida mosque bombing] on the national news. Surely, if the FBI considers this incident possibly "domestic terrorism" it should garner some attention. I can’t help but to wonder that if a church or synagogue had been bombed -- no matter how small the explosion -- there would have been some sort of national coverage.
[My thanks for info on the Florida bombing to swpd reader Katie]