Selective Justice: Arson as Terror

Harry Burkhart in Los Angeles and Ray Lengend, recently of New York, have both been arrested and charged with a string of serial arson fires that all but dominated the headlines during the New Year.

Burkhart, a German national, hates Americans (F–K the United States), and Lengend hates Muslims and anyone who has pissed him off, ever.  They engaged in a spree of fires and fire bombings which left both cities seriously on edge as law enforcement scrambled to find them.

Burkhart apparently targeted vehicles, including those in the garages of occupied dwellings, and Lengend bombed a deli, houses and a Mosque. Burkhart is charged with arson fires, 50 of them, and Lengend with arson and arson as a hate crime. He used molotov cocktails.  Neither is charged with terrorism.  Why not?

Both are surely terrorists.  They wished to incite fear and uncertainty in citizens.  They appeared to act recklessly and indiscriminately to target innocent people to the point that no one would be sure of their safety.  They both attacked at night when people are especially vulnerable. (By the way, a very special shout-out to NYPD’s spokesman Paul Brown for his astute observation about Lengend’s capture: “They [police] were observant and persistent, literally through the dark of the night.”  Most nights are dark.)

Perhaps we don’t consider it terror since Burkhardt is apparently Caucasian and Lengend attacked a Mosque rather than being from one. If Lengend had self-identified as a Muslim and targeted a synagogue, would the T-word have been invoked?  If you don’t think “yes”, I would like some of what you are smoking.

The applied definition of terror is apparently slippery, squishy and open to the interpretation of government officials (and the press) who may have their own agendas for preventing its use.  We should all care deeply about that, especially so,  if we are firefighters.

These were both craven acts of terror and firefighters were on the front-line in the defense of their communities.

The next time a pimply-faced, two-bit punk is busted by the ATF for building an amateur-hour pipe bomb and “TERRORIST STOPPED” is splashed across the web, we should all chuckle and roll our eyes at the hypocrisy of it all.

Sources: NYT, LA Times, Time

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January 2012
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