[Editor’s note: This column was written before news reports that the suspect in the deadly bombings killed himself early Wednesday.]

Two more package bombs were found in Austin and San Antonio FedEx offices on Tuesday, giving evidence of originating with the same person responsible for a string of bombings that have killed two persons and wounded several others. Some of those targeted have been African-Americans from families who have played a prominent role in civil rights activism.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied again this week that the Austin bombings are terrorism, and Austin Chief of Police Brian Manley asked, “That’s been the question all along: Is this terrorism? Is this hate-related?”

It is well known by now that “terrorism” is often used by American officials as a dog whistle to refer to acts of political violence carried out by Muslims or by minorities, and that typically white violence of a terroristic sort is characterized by other adjectives (the poor things often seem to be off their meds or at most involved in “hate crimes”).

This linguistic hypocrisy has got to stop. If the character of the legislation is the problem, let’s change it. We don’t know who is behind the bombings, but that doesn’t really matter. We know who some of the victims are, and that tells us a great deal.

U.S. federal code says:

” U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 113B › § 2331 18 U.S. Code § 2331 – Definitions

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. (Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)”

Two of the first victims belonged to the same historic African-American church and were members of families who had a distinguished history of activism for civil rights.

Subsequent bombings have been more scattershot in their targeting of victims, but that could well be a tactic aimed at muddying the waters. Even just on the basis of the two African-Americans targeted and killed, it seems clear that a political motive and attempt at intimidation was present, and that these bombings fall under the rubric of domestic terrorism.

One of my tweets pointed out that the Unabomber killed one victim (he injured others, including a scientist at Yale) and provoked a years-long FBI prioritized manhunt. Until recently, the Austin bombings weren’t even getting much press.


You know the story. Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media. During this holiday season, you can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearth what's really happening- without compromise. Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.

As always, we wish you truth, reason and the best of the season!