The Current

Post-Charleston, some argue right wing extremism is terrorism

As the world reels from the Charleston shootings, experts are saying right wing extremists should also be labelled terrorists.
For many, the confederate flag that flies in some southern states has become a symbol of America's ongoing struggle with racism. (Jason Miczek/Reuters)
No question. That was an act of terror. No different than what ISIS and al Qaeda does — targeting civilians because of who they are.- Bill O'Reilly commenting on the Charleston shooting

No labels will change the loss of nine people killed last week, when Dylann Roof opened fire inside an historic Charleston, South Carolina church.

The words used to describe what happened that day, however, do matter.

To the commentator Bill O'Reilly, and many others, what happened in Charleston was a terrorist act. To the FBI director James Coomey, it was something else — not terror. There's no doubt that the gunman was fuelled by hatred, but whether what he did is "terrorism" is subject to ongoing debate.

Most of the focus has — understandably — been on America's legacy of racism. But hate knows no borders, and even in the last year Canada has been cruelly reminded of its own struggles with gruesome violence.We spoke to Max Abrahms, a Northeastern University political science professor and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, about America's division over whether the Charleston shootings were a terrorist attack. He joined us from Boston, Massachusetts.

For a sense of how much of a threat homegrown extremism poses today in Canada, we spoke to Barbara Perry. She's a professor in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at the University Ontario Institute of Technology, and co-author of the forthcoming report "Right Wing Extremism in Canada — An Environmental Scan". She joined us from Oshawa.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Sarah Grant and Daisy Xiong.

President Barack Obama with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Barack Obama & Marc Maron

Last week's race-fuelled church shooting in South Carolina was, unsurprisingly, a topic that came up for U.S. president Barack Obama when he sat down for a somewhat surprising interview with comedian Marc Maron's popular podcast, called, "WTF".  

Listen to the podcast