The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a lawsuit against Washington’s prison system will cost the state $2.25 million for failing to prevent a white supremacist’s murderous rampage in Los Angeles. Here’s a snippet:
“Buford Furrow Jr., an avowed white supremacist, had been released from prison three months before the Aug. 10, 1999, rampage outside Los Angeles. The lawsuit, filed in 2006 in King County Superior Court, said the Department of Corrections failed to adequately supervise Furrow and could have prevented the shootings by inspecting his home and giving more consideration to his white supremacist ties.”
The fact that the Washington authorities did not give “more consideration to his white supremacist ties” is key here. Even though the largest act of terrorism on domestic soil prior to 9/11 was carried out by a white supremacist, these kinds of extremists do not get taken as seriously as terrorists with darker skin and a non-U.S. passport. Part of the reason is the white racial frame that casts “dark Others” as inherently dangerous and always more of a threat than native-born whites. And, another part of the reason that violent extremists such as Burrows don’t get taken seriously is the more general failure to take white racism seriously. As Tony Snow, the Fox News reporter and Bush White House Press Secretary said in 2003 (hat tip to Pam):
“Here’s the unmentionable secret: Racism isn’t that big a deal any more. No sensible person supports it. Nobody of importance preaches it. It’s rapidly becoming an ugly memory.”
This is the prevailing white sentiment about racism today: no big deal any more. An ugly memory. Unfortunately, this sort of willful ignorance is not capable of taking the white supremacist ties of a guy like Furrow seriously.