Another White Man Who Isn't Troubled Enough to Be Called a Terrorist

[Content Note: Bombing; terrorism; white male privilege.]

Last night, law enforcement discovered a 25-minute taped confession left behind by Austin bomber Mark Conditt. In the video recorded on his phone, he described each bomb in detail, as well as the differences between them.

Conditt started with package bombs left at residences; moved on to a roadside bomb with a tripwire; then to package delivery via a professional delivery service. The effect of his constantly shifting M.O. was to doubly terrorize a community, who were (1) fearful of the explosives themselves; and (2) fearful of not knowing what iteration of explosive they may encounter next.

Conditt killed two people and wounded five more. He would have kept up his spree of terror and injury and murder if he had not been stopped.

And yet.

Here is how interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley described Conditt after watching the recording last night: "He does not at all mention anything about terrorism nor does he mention anything about hate. But instead it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point."


That is neither humor nor hyperbole. I am angry that I have spent nearly 14 years as a public feminist activist with everything I've done being audited by critics and found to be nefarious, sinister. Never do they afford me the space to just be an average, earnest person who really likes and cares about other people and also makes mistakes; it's always that I'm a manipulative, Machiavellian monster with ulterior motives who hurts people for fun.

See also: Every other woman with a public career, including and especially the last Democratic presidential nominee.

And I am keenly aware that marginalized men, especially men of color, are not afforded anything like the aggressively undeserved good faith given to Mark Conditt, either. There is no way on this planet or any other that United States law enforcement would have expressed anything resembling empathy or sympathy for a Black man or a Muslim man who terrorized an American city with bombs.

There is no way that any person who isn't a cishet white man would have been allowed to define whether they were a terrorist based on what they said in their videotaped confession.

Our voices don't matter that much when we're alive and haven't killed anyone. We are rarely afforded the gift of being able to define ourselves.

But THIS FUCKING GUY was just a poor little chap who had challenges in his life that made him KILL PEOPLE WITH BOMBS. And he didn't say anything about terrorism, so I guess we'll never know his motive!

Yes, that is something else Manley actually said: "We are never going to able to put a [rationale] behind these acts."

And we'll just have to take his word for it, since police have "no plans to release the video."

Another bit of kindness given to Mark Conditt and his family that would not be given to anyone who did not share his privilege.

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