If you got your degree from the University of California, you might want to demand a refund. A newly surfaced video, recorded in October, shows Professor Ross Avilla of UC-Merced teaching his class that 90% of terrorism in this country is carried out by “white Caucasian men.” I think he meant to say “white Christian men,” though it’s possible the professor doesn’t understand redundancy.
Avilla was trying to demonstrate to his class that people use mental shortcuts when thinking about complex issues such as terrorism. Implied in his statement, of course, is the idea that most Americans’ mental shortcuts amount to blaming religious and racial minorities for what is really, according to Avilla’s made up statistic, a problem confined almost entirely to white men. This nonsense is gospel in left-wing circles.
“I’m not saying that white men are evil, but that is what we should be thinking about,” said Avilla. “Usually these are people who are religiously motivated and politically conservative.”
So now Avilla has added two more demographic traits to his description. By his use of the word “usually” he implies that more than half of white male terrorism is also “religiously motivated” and conservative in nature. According to the professor, 90% of terrorist incidents are committed by white men, and some unspecified quantity more than half is religiously motivated and conservative. White, male, politically conservative, religiously-motivated terrorism must therefore comprise more than 45% and less than 90% of all terrorism in the United States.
But he’s not saying that white men are evil. Those are just the facts, you see, and he’s a dispassionate observer.
Professor Avilla pulled all of those statistics out of his backside. Only a handful of terrorist acts are committed by perps who fit the entirety of Avilla’s description. Keep in mind, it isn’t good enough to fit one or two characteristics. For Avilla’s stats to be correct he would have to show a plethora of terrorist acts carried out by people who are white, male, politically conservative, and religiously motivated. The only acts of terrorism I could find that fit Avilla’s description were a few small-scale incidents of anti-abortion terrorism.
Such incidents shouldn’t be hard to find, of course. Non-Hispanic whites made up 69% of the population in the 2010 census, and males slightly less than half of that. Approximately seven in ten Americans self-identify as Christian and nine out of ten believe in God. Thirty-eight percent of Americans describe themselves as politically conservative, the largest self-identifying political group. So if majority groups are carrying out the majority of terrorism in this country that shouldn’t be a surprise. But they aren’t.
Luckily, Avilla offered an anecdote to illustrate his point that white dudes are dangerous and the rest of us are bigots because we don’t realize it. He described an incident that apparently happened “about a month ago” (which would have been September 2015), when a right-wing white guy took an AK-47 to the State Capitol building in Austin, Texas, and fired off sixty rounds before being arrested. He must have been a poor shot because no one was injured. “I think he was Christian,” said the professor. “In fact, I know he was Christian because it was something about ‘the state claimed it was God’s law’ and stuff.” The professor then asked the class how many students had heard of this incident. Only one hand went up, which was supposed to “prove” that there was some kind of media blackout surrounding the Great Texas Capitol Shoot-em-up of 2015.
That one student was certainly lying because this incident never happened. But think about how implausible his story is for a moment. How does one fire sixty rounds in a crowded building without hitting anyone? A blind man would have killed at least a few people. And how does one go on a sustained shooting spree in a government building teeming with cops and manage to fire sixty rounds before being stopped? Avilla’s story is absurdly absurd.
When Avilla was contacted by the College Fix he insisted that in fact the incident had happened, though the details were slightly different. The real story is this — a man staged an attack on a sidewalk outside a county courthouse in Georgia using an AR-15 and some crudely made bombs. It happened in 2014 not 2015. The shooter was quickly shot dead though not before wounding a sheriff’s deputy. The shooter, Dennis Marx, had been arrested on gun charges and for possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute. He believed that the justice system was giving him a raw deal. He also belonged to the anti-government Sovereign Citizen movement, which is certainly right-wing, though I’d guess he just wanted the government to stop messing with his ganja. I have found no indication that Marx was a religious man and even if he were that wouldn’t make it “religiously motivated.”
My theory is that Avilla, when confronted with his lie, attempted to find some incident somewhere that sounded like the incident he described and this was the best he could do. Dennis Marx is the professor’s shining example of a white, male, politically conservative, religiously-motivated terrorist. Or maybe he was just the closest thing the professor could find on the internet.
Liberals are downright obsessed with conservative white Christian terrorists, so obsessed in fact that they try to mold every incident of terrorism into what they want it to be. The liberal media attempted to link both the Tucson and Aurora shootings to the Tea Party despite zero evidence. After the Boston Marathon bombing, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry shrieked that the bombers were “literally Caucasian!” because they supposedly hailed from the Caucasus Mountains. (One brother was born there, the other wasn’t.) Though racial categories are often hazy, I don’t know anyone who would have considered the Tsarnaev brothers white — which is what Harris-Perry was implying — before they started killing people. In any case, their race didn’t drive them to terrorism; their religion did. These guys were Muslims and their religion was not incidental.
Even anti-Christian terrorists can be counted as Christians if liberals decide that it makes a better story–and they always do. Liberal commentator Tavis Smiley actually said that Christians “kill people every day in this country.” When asked to cite examples, he quipped: “Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is — I could do this all day long.”
If Smiley wants to educate himself on the Columbine Massacre I would recommend Dave Cullen’s superbly researched book “Columbine,” which I found to be even-handed and credible. He would learn that the killers were not Christians.
Eric Harris was very much an atheist, even an anti-theist, and he recorded videos of himself before the attack in which he mocked the faith of his soon-to-be victims. On the day of the attack, Harris wore a t-shirt that read “NATURAL SELECTION,” a reference to his Darwinist outlook. Harris was fixated on the idea that some people are less fit than others and should be removed from the gene pool. He was just speeding the process along.
Dylan Klebold’s religious beliefs are bit more complicated. Raised by liberal baby-boomer parents, Dylan had little religious foundation. The Klebolds gave church a try for a short time when Dylan was a young child though they didn’t stick with it. His journal revealed a tortured young man who believed in good and evil, light and darkness, though that alone did not make him a Christian.
The two killers demonstrated their anti-Christian bigotry on the day of the massacre. One story that Cullen found lacking in credibility is that a Christian student named Cassie Bernall was interrogated about her religious beliefs before Eric Harris shot her under a table in the library. Her family and her church took the story and ran with it. According to Cullen, they have not wanted to give up their belief that Cassie was a Christian martyr.
But Cullen concludes that the story was likely a case of mistaken identity. The Christian girl in question was probably Val Schnurr, who had already been sprayed with a shotgun. When she cried out, bleeding, “Oh my God, oh my God, don’t let me die!” Dylan Klebold asked her, mockingly, if she believed in God. She said yes. “Why?” he replied. She said that that’s the way she was raised. He loaded another shell and was about to finish her off when he got distracted and moved on. Cullen believes that some of the people in the library that day misperceived or misremembered that incident, likely because they were hiding under tables and in a panicked state of mind.
But Tavis Smiley is convinced that Christians commit acts of terrorism “every day” in this country. His only cited example was actually anti-Christian terrorism and it happened in 1999. Surely, if these incidents happen “every day” he should be able to come up with something better and more recent than Columbine.
I’m sure that someone will be able to locate a terrorist incident that matches Professor Avilla’s description, thus “vindicating” his lurid imagination. But will even one or two incidents ever amount to the epidemic that liberals like to imagine? Is that number anywhere near 45%, which the professor clearly implied? No, but it helps liberals to talk constantly about a fraction of terrorists incidents, carried out by people liberals loathe, in order to distract us from the other incidents.