The Nashville terrorist next to the crime scene

Netizens have been accusing the media of whitewashing the Nashville bomber by avoiding to call him a terrorist. 

The criticism came after the FBI identified the suspect who set off the bomb in Nashville on Christmas morning. 

Federal Prosecutor, Don Cochran, announced the name in a press conference. According to him, the name of the suspect is Anthony Warner, and he died during the explosion.

Meanwhile, Doug Kornesky, special agent of the FBI’s Memphis field office, shared there is no indication that others were involved. However, they are still following some leads. 

Call Him What He is, a Terrorist

After different news outlets reported the suspect’s identity, many have pointed out the media’s avoidance of the term “terrorist” in describing the man. 

Mary L. Trump, niece and critic of US President Donald Trump, wrote on Twitter.

She said, “I didn’t realize there were so many euphemisms for “white suicide bomber terrorist.” 

Qasim Rashid, Esq. also told the media through the bird app to call the suspect “what he is: a terrorist.” 

He also added the terms used by different news outlets in describing the suspect, like mentally unstable and a grieving person. 

The Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM) collated shots of media outlets, portraying the suspect in a positive light. 

For example, the Sun describes him as a “good man” and a “techie guy.” Mail Online, on the other hand, decided to connect him with his family’s tragedies and his paranoia with technology.  

CfMM also pointed out how white people are portrayed in the media, compared to individuals with Islamic backgrounds. 

The image shows that the media will not describe white individuals as terrorists, even if they already did criminal acts. However, individuals with Islamic backgrounds, even if they’re just “plotters” or suspects are immediately called terrorists. 

A screengrab of the crime scene footage

Opinion: Process and Validation Matters, but Also is Fairness 

The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “violent criminal acts” committed by an individual or a group to promote ideological goals that stem from political, religious, social, racial, or environmental influences. 

There is no clear evidence yet on what was the motive of Warner for setting off the bomb. Thus, it may be the reason why no one would call him a terrorist. 

However, it does not mean it is fair. As CfMM pointed out, people connected with Islam are more likely to be called a terrorist, even when they’re still a suspect. 

Herein lies the power of media in telling stories and shaping how people view particular groups of people. 

Isn’t it time to give the same amount of discretion against other religious or racial groups before labeling someone as a terrorist? 

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