The liberal online magazine Salon published an opinion piece Tuesday evening by columnist David Sirota entitled, “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.”
Sirota argued that if the perpetrator of Monday’s bombing attack, which left at least three people dead, is identified as a Muslim, then conservative Republicans will use the tragedy to block Obama administration policy goals like immigration reform.
“If recent history is any guide, if the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident — one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates,” Sirota wrote in his Salon piece, which featured an image of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh cropped beside a photograph of Osama bin Laden.
“It will probably be much different if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world. As we know from our own history, when those kind of individuals break laws in such a high-profile way, America often cites them as both proof that entire demographic groups must be targeted, and that therefore a more systemic response is warranted. At that point, it’s easy to imagine conservatives citing Boston as a reason to block immigration reform defense spending cuts and the Afghan War withdrawal and to further expand surveillance and other encroachments on civil liberties,” Sirota wrote.
Sirota is not the only liberal media commentator to attempt to politicize Monday’s tragedy. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer speculated on a link between Patriots Day and the motive behind the bombings, while NBC News reporter Luke Russert speculated that the 1993 Waco siege, which occurred on Patriots Day, might have inspired a right-wing terrorist in Boston.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof used the tragedy to attack Republican politicians, tweeting Monday, “Explosion is a reminder that ATF needs a director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking apptment.” Kristof later apologized for the tweet.
Sirota has employed attention-grabbing, race-baiting rhetoric in the past.
Sirota said in December, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, that a new profiling system should be established to monitor mentally-ill individuals, but that Republicans would not support that effort because it would mean profiling white men.