Why Is the Killer of British MP Jo Cox Not Being Called a “Terrorist”?

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Why Is the Killer of British MP Jo Cox Not Being Called a “Terrorist”?

Flowers and tributes including a photograph of Labour MP Jo Cox outside 10 Downing Street. (Credit: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

British Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered yesterday. Although the motive is not yet proven, there is mounting evidence that the detained suspect, 52-year-old white male Thomas Mair, was motivated by political ideology. Cox was an outspoken advocate for refugees. At least two witnesses say Mair, as he carried out the attack, yelled “Britain First,” the name of a virulently right-wing anti-immigrant party. He has years of affiliation with neo-Nazi groups: what Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “a long history with white nationalism.” The U.K. is in the midst of a bitter and virulent debate about whether to exit the EU — Cox opposed that — and much of the pro-Brexit case centers on fear-mongering over immigrants.

Despite all of this, it’s virtually impossible to find any media outlet calling the attacker a “terrorist” or even suggesting that it might be “terrorism.” To the contrary, the suspected killer — overnight — has been alternatively described as a gentle soul or a mentally ill “loner”.

This stands in stark contrast to a very similar incident that took place in the U.K. in 2010, when a British MP, Stephen Timms, was brutally stabbed and almost killed by a woman angry over his vote in support of the Iraq War. In that case, British media outlets almost uniformly called the attack “terrorism”; The Guardian, for instance, described it as “the first terrorist attack to injure someone on the U.K. mainland since 7 July 2005.” The headline of the British tabloid Mirror called the attacker a “woman terrorist.” And just yesterday, another tabloid, The Sun, reported on Timms’s comments about Cox and, in its headline, referred to him as “Terror Stab Survivor.”

The difference is obvious: Timms’s attacker was a Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, while Cox’s alleged killer … is not. As I’ve written repeatedly, the word “terrorism” has no real concrete meaning and certainly no consistent application. In the West, functionally speaking, it’s now a propaganda term with little meaning other than “a Muslim who engages in violence against Westerners or their allies.” It’s even used for Muslims who attack soldiers of an army occupying their country.

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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