Shining a Light on Terrorism’s Double Standard

You’re walking through a major metropolitan area when the lights go out. Power shuts off, not just on the block you’re on but in fully one-third of the country. As night falls in a city used to light, it’s natural to feel scared that you’re not 100 percent safe.

You’re terrorized.

The blackout that struck New York, Detroit, Ontario, and many points in between wasn’t caused by a fanatic blowing up a power facility. There was no message to the Western world.

The root of the evil likely lurks in a virus attack that spread last month and caused untold damage to computer systems around the world. Tell me: Would you consider the propagator of the virus a terrorist? After all, the very definition of a terrorist is someone who invokes terror.

More important, would you be surprised if the federal government didn’t?

When you think of government agents rounding up suspected terrorists, you think of some Middle Eastern guys being detained. The government is desperately trying to sell American citizens on the belief that those who strike us look as little like God-fearing, Bible-thumping, gun-toting American voters as possible. Heaven forbid people within our own country create destruction and breed dissent. All those unpatriotic feelings don’t exist here!

In the land of the free and the home of the brave you need not fear the trampling of sovereign rights and oppressive government foreign policy; you only need to be afraid of the raghead they found with some fertilizer in his truck. A raghead, who, by the way, is not a citizen at all.

So it strikes a major blow to the government on two fronts when they learn that one of the origins of the devastating Blaster worm was a white kid from Hopkins, Minnesota. On the one hand, this kid dealt crippling blows to the Air Force, the DMV, and the Federal Reserve while halting production around the globe — but he’s not Arab. On the other hand, you’ve got a major strike against “Homeland Security” — a strike that only demonstrates how unprepared for real attacks we are while the government continues to spy on the average American looking for links to “terror.”

Talk about a public relations disaster. That’s precisely why high school student Jeffrey Lee Parson ducks most major news coverage despite dragging what little economic base the United States has left to a standstill. After detainment by the FBI for a short time, Parson was placed under house arrest. They placed an antisocial hacker in his house! What a punishment. What are the odds that he actually left the house of his own volition in the year leading up to the arrest?

Where are the S.W.A.T. units carting him away to a secret detention site while unconstitutional searches are issued against his home in the name of PATRIOTism? Why isn’t this punk tossed in a 4-by-4 cell and subjected to days of torture and food deprivation like all the other terror suspects being held offshore in Cuba?

What’s the difference between Jeffrey Parson and the countless hundreds who have spent the past 18 months as maltreated “guests” of the U.S. judicial system?

The difference is that Jeffrey Parson actually did something.

Let me put this in perspective. Earlier this year, Mike Hawash, an employee of Intel in Portland, Oregon, was picked up in his company’s parking lot and held for five weeks without a charge. All court proceedings during that time were secret. His crime? He tried to get into Pakistan with some other residents of Portland (all Middle Eastern) in an effort to assist the Taliban. He didn’t succeed, so he returned home and sent one of his traveling companions $2,000.

His sentence for admitting this? A maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hawash was convicted of a terror crime in the United States, and I accept that that carries a sentence. But why isn’t Parson going through the same thing? His crimes were far worse than anything Hawash did; it’s impossible to calculate the damage done by the Blaster virus. And if it’s true that Blaster started the chain reaction that left millions without power, then those people who died in New York are casualties of Parson’s crime.

That makes Parson a murderer.

The leniency shown Parson illustrates the vast differences accorded people in this country based on their ethnicity. Letting confessed criminals go while suspects are left to rot undermines the entire system and eats away at our safety. It’d be good to remember that in America we’re innocent until proven guilty.

None of this changes the fact, however, that an honest-to-goodness meltdown of our infrastructure happened and none of the new departments or agencies set up to predict these kinds of safety breaches did a blessed thing to stop it. Our states are left with massive debt and failing public services while our President promises those services to other nations. Wouldn’t it be nice if the people employed to find our nation’s vulnerabilities actually did what they’re paid to do?

Instead of looking into our bank transactions or our email on some witch-hunt to find a terror cell, Homeland Security should keep our country secure. That means keeping our power grid safe. It means keeping roads from falling into disrepair. It means security.

The failure to pinpoint problems like Parson and prosecute them like the terrorists they are shows that the United States isn’t interested in making us safe; it’s only interested in generating more terror. Why would the government want us to be terrified? It helps our elected officials feel more secure.

That should scare you more than imaginary bogeymen.