The Nashville narrative is pretty clear: Authorities say Anthony Quinn Warner packed his RV with explosives and blew it and himself up on Christmas while parked downtown. He was, by the most basic definition of the term, a suicide bomber. And yet you'd be hard-pressed to find the phrase in media coverage, writes Danielle Campoamor at Refinery29. The same applies to "domestic terrorist." Campoamor calls out "legacy publications" in general for avoiding the terminology, particularly the New York Times and the local Tennessean, which is part of Gannett. Instead of being called a suicide bomber or a domestic terrorist, Quinn is being described as a lonely, older white guy. If he were Black or brown, he wouldn't be getting the same treatment, writes Campoamor. She notes that this Times article in particular set off a backlash among critics like her.
"Editors and political talking heads dragging their feet to name a white domestic terrorist accordingly is hardly new," she writes. Men like those recently accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan's governor usually are instead described as "militia" members or "watchmen." Campoamor isn't the only calling attention to this. "If a bomber commits suicide with a bomb wouldn't you call that person a suicide bomber?" tweets Molly Jong-Fast of the Daily Beast. The problem goes beyond media semantics, writes Campamor, pointing as an example to the way hate crimes against Muslims spike after an attack by someone claiming to be one. "This refusal to hold white men to the same standard—to the same level of villainization—plays a large part in the culture of hate crimes that runs rampant in America," Campamor notes. (Read her full column.)