The Wildly Different Ways One Senator Responds To Terrorism: Boston Versus Charleston

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos

In response to the Boston bombing of 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham demanded that the government do everything it could to learn from the attack and prevent future attacks.

This man, in my view, should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of, and that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.

Many people took issue with Graham’s claim that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is a U.S. citizen, could be designated as an enemy combatant. But Graham’s conviction that the attack was part of a more systemic problem, based on Tsarnaev’s Muslim faith, was unmistakable. Tsarnaev’s attack killed three people and injured over 250.

Graham’s reaction to Wednesday’s attack on a black church in his home state of South Carolina was very different. (His niece, coincidentally, went to school with the shooter). Graham is adamant that the attack is not evidence of any larger problem.

Graham, who is on his way to Charleston, said his niece did not recall Roof making any statements that were related to race.

I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that,” Graham said. “It’s about a young man who is obviously twisted.”

We already know that the suspect, Dylann Roof, favored white supremacist symbols. Before murdering 9 members of an African-American church, Roof allegedly said “You rape our women and are taking over our country and you have to go.” Terrorism from white supremacist groups is a growing threat in the United States. A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security warned of “lone wolf” terrorists and found “[h]eightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms…may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.” The report was subjected to harsh criticism from Congressional Republicans.

Graham, while eager to tackle Islamic extremism, appears much less focused on terrorism motivated by white supremacy, even in his home state.