This story should come with a warning label. NOT reading it could be hazardous to your health, or even your life. It should scare the s**t out of every American who assumes that he is safe. Most of us live our lives in a law-abiding manner. We are honest, work hard, obey the law, raise our children, provide for our families as best we can, don’t bother anyone, and try to do the right thing in our daily lives. In return, we want and expect the government to protect us, to keep us safe from criminals and terrorists.
Probably, most of you have never heard off Brendan Tevlin. Who was he? By all accounts, he was a kid any parent would be proud of. He was a straight “A” student in high school, athletic, popular. He did all the right things that we hope and expect from our children. Friends referred to him as a “model citizen.” He only made one mistake in his life. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On the night of June 25 Brendan, home on college break, was on his way home from a friend’s house when he was set upon and murdered by four men. He was shot eight times while sitting in his car at a stoplight in West Orange, NJ. The police, his family, his friends, and the community as a whole were unable to determine a motive. Finally, the Essex County prosecutor, unable or unwilling to characterize it differently, concluded that Brendan was targeted specifically. CBS news reported that conclusion. Was this a whitewash? Perhaps. The unmistakable implication was that either Brendan knew his murderers or it was a drug deal gone bad. Supposedly, we could now all rest easy. It was just another case of a middle class white kid associating with the wrong people, possibly buying drugs, and paying the ultimate price. Nothing for the rest of us to worry about. We could all go on with our lives.
But, not so fast. On July 18 West Orange police arrested Ali Muhammed Brown in connection with another crime. In the course of his interrogation he confessed not only to Tevlin’s murder but also to three others in Washington State. Mr. Brown, an American citizen and a Muslim, offered, as his motive, revenge for the US’s killing Muslims overseas. So, apparently, what we have is four documented cases of domestic terrorism committed in revenge.
Folks, we can no longer ignore the fact that, to paraphrase Reverend Wright, terrorism has come home to roost. We have seen several examples in the last few years: the Fort Hood shootings, the Boston marathon attack, and these murders, to name a few. The fact that law enforcement and the government have characterized them in more sanguine terms for whatever reasons is irrelevant and misleading. These crimes are frightening for their randomness. These victims were not people who knew they were putting themselves in harm’s way, such as a soldier or a journalist. They were normal, regular people, like you and me. Any marathon spectator could have been at the finish line when the bombs went off. Any one us could have been the person sitting in his car minding his own business and been brutally murdered.
I am not suggesting that we live our lives in constant fear, always looking over our shoulder, constantly suspicious of strangers, seeing terrorists under our bed and around every corner. We should be vigilant, but not paranoid. But, the main thing is we should demand that law enforcement and the government tell us the truth. The facts clearly demonstrate that domestic terrorism is no longer a hypothetical. Regardless of what the government is claiming, it is a fact, and the perpetrators are American citizens. Let me repeat, these terrorists, and let’s call them terrorists, not radicals, were born here, live here, look like us and speak like us. In many ways, they are us. That is what is so scary. That is why I said this story comes with a warning label. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, “Are you going to believe what [the government] tell[s] you or what you see with your own eyes?”