Dear America, this is our ISIS

ISIS a fringe group that believes it is saving the soul of the Islamic world. It believes that its lands have been poisoned by outside, corrupt, polluted forces. It sees itself as the true representative of true Islam, however unhinged from reality that view may be. It carries out this worldview through domination and violence. It is driven by an ideology of Muslim supremacy.

Dylann Roof, the young white man who murdered nine black worshipers on Wednesday night in Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church, told numerous friends that he believed in segregation. He told police he wanted to start a race war. He told his victims that they had to die because black people were raping white women and taking over the country. He believed, in short, that this country belongs to white people, and, further, he considered the presence of black people as a threat to that precious creed. It’s White Supremacy 101.

So it’s time that we Americans realize something. Despite the efforts of Lindsey Graham to label him a “whacked out kid,” as well the attempts by FBI director James Comey to avoid labeling his crime as an act of terrorism, Roof is a product of America’s own version of ISIS. Of course, the ideology he follows doesn’t seek an Islamic state. But it does seek a white one. It’s not ISIS. It’s WISIS.

He burned the American flag. That is straight out of the ISIS manual. He waved the Confederate flag. ISIS has its own flag too. Of course, there is a difference. The ISIS flag doesn’t fly over any Arab capitals. Also, it’s nowhere near as popular as the Confederate flag. But that’s a minor difference, right?

But still, we hesitate to call him a terrorist. How could this be? What could be so different about this guy?

Due to radicalization that might happen over the internet, we have been told that Muslim American criminals who have never been recruited by ISIS can still be labeled as dangerous terrorists and treated as such. This treatment can include classification as an enemy combatant, full-time surveillance, secret proceedings in the name of “national security,” and so on.

Was Roof influenced by things he read on the internet, even though it seems he had no formal connection to any particular hate group? Yes. How do I know this? Well, he told me in his manifesto. Further, the group he latched onto, The Council of Conservative Citizens, is dedicated to separation of the races. In fact, to them, segregation is holy: “Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God.”

But still, we hesitate to call him a terrorist. How could this be? What could be so different about this guy?

The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Almost everyone would agree that Roof unlawfully used force against a civilian population. And what was his objective? Well, quite admittedly, it was segregation (see above). And is segregation a “political or social objective?” Yes. How do I know this? Well, many states had laws advancing it, and our Supreme Court eventually outlawed it. I can’t imagine how it gets more political and social than that.

But still, we hesitate to call him a terrorist. How could this be? What could be so different about this guy?

Like many young men who have been driven to commit some sort of violence in the name of Islamic supremacy, Roof was transformed by those who espouse the philosophy of the White State. He has imams like Ann Coulter, who once dismissed any claims that the Council of Conservative Citizens is racist at all (Remember, one of the characteristics of the worst racists is to deny any hint of discriminatory tendencies).

Roof possesses every element of what it might take to call him a terrorist. In fact, he is the textbook definition of a “lone wolf terrorist,” the kind that law enforcement says is especially dangerous. But still, we hesitate to call him a terrorist. How could this be? What could be so different about this guy?

When a Muslim fits this mold, we can’t get the word out fast enough. In fact, even Muslims jump to call him a terrorist, condemning him even more strongly than everyone else, apologizing even. But, somehow, that’s not happening here. Sure, there’s a discussion, but not the default leap that there is when the shooter’s name is Abdul and not Dylann.

Now, if I were white (which I can get mistaken for until one hears my name), I would avoid calling him a terrorist too. White Americans have seen what that label does to other communities, and it’s not very inviting. People might start to think all white people could be murdering racists. People might indict their way of life, question their collective patriotism, or cast their whole community as a potential threat. Of course, that would be illogical, unreasonable, and ridiculous. But it is a scary thought, isn’t it? Welcome to my world.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. This is absolutely correct. Had this been a Muslim saying he wanted to start a war in America and killed nine white people, we would have heard the word “terrorism” a billion times each day so we WOULDN’T EVER forget. After hearing the word “terrorism” until our ears bleed the next word we would have heard was MUSLIM. Also, a white man had wanted to kill a group of muslims not too long ago but was fortunately caught by police but he was let go, despite him confessing that muslims, young/old, male/female was who he wanted to kill they let him go as free as a bird.

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