The United States has witnessed countless mass shootings since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but only shootings carried out by Muslim Americans have been classified as acts of terrorism, Press TV reports.
Although the US portrays itself as the land of equality, it unfairly targets Muslim gunmen as terrorists, even as studies show that white supremacist and radical anti-government groups pose the greatest domestic terror threat in the country.
American media outlets have been reluctant to classify the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre as terrorism, despite how clearly it fits the definition of a terrorist act, defined as extreme violence intended to murder civilians and to create fear based on political and ideological beliefs.
Dylann Roof, 21, the white gunman who shot nine black people dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston last month is an avowed white supremacist who wanted to start a race war in the US.
Roof, however, has been described by mainstream media outlets and authorities as mentally ill and filled with the hatred of blacks, not a terrorist.
Similarly, Craig Stephen Hicks, a white gunman who killed three Muslim American college students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in February had also been steered away from terrorism, although governments and leaders of several Muslim-majority countries deemed the shooting to be terrorism.
Former Black Panther Party member and international defense lawyer John Floyd says there is no real distinction between terrorism and hate crimes, describing their differences as rhetorical.
“It’s a distinction without a real difference,” Floyd told Press TV’s correspondent in Washington. “A lot of the elements that if you were trying to prove that it was a terrorist act, it’s there; if you want to prove that it’s a hate crime, it’s there,” he said.
According to a recent study published last month, white and right-wing Americans present a far greater terror threat to the United States than individuals linked to the al-Qaeda or ISIL extremist groups.
Most of the “terror” attacks carried out on US soil since the September 11, 2001 attacks have been committed by white supremacist and radical anti-government groups, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.