The MLK Day Cover-Up: Terrorism is Defined by the Race of the Victim

On March 9, American newspapers such as the Seattle Times began to report once again on the terrorist attack on an MLK day parade that was thwarted less than two months ago in Spokane, Washington. The bomb has been consistently described as “‘chilling’ in its sophistication,” and according to an official speaking anonymously, it “contained anti-coagulant chemical agents intended to make anyone wounded by the blast ‘bleed out.’” Additionally, the expertly-placed bomb had a remote-control detonator and was packed with shrapnel. According to CNN’s website, “officials called the situation an instance ‘of domestic terrorism’ that could have caused ‘mass casualties.’”

While FOX and other major news sources will make a national story out of police probes into possible letter bombs (which later turn out to be nothing), only a miniscule ripple was caused by this attempted terrorist attack which would have caused national upheaval had it been planted by a Muslim. We have heard countless conservatives argue about the ways in which international and public policy should be constructed around the prevention of terrorist threats, yet hardly anyone—Republican or Democrat—said a word about this attack that was meant to kill and intimidate people of color.

White supremacists do not fit the racial stereotype of the Muslim terrorist.

Yet, this doesn’t adequately explain the belligerency of this cover-up. Behind this incident lurks what A.J. Williams-Myers calls “the secret of American race relations: white violence.” That this secret is still so easy to keep demonstrates the persistence of white supremacy in America. While most complacent white Americans would rebuff any accusations of having something in common with the white supremacist(s) reportedly responsible for this attempted mass murder, the systematic disregard for these kinds of incidents demonstrates whites’ still-prevalent attitude that Black life has little value.