Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Redefining Domestic Terrorism

Some of you may have wondered what my screed about the term "terrorist" was all about yesterday. I guess it's a few things: As a copy editor and writer, I think it's important that words are used properly. And as a liberal, I pride myself on our party's intellectual consistency and ability to think critically. 

So when I see people bending themselves into pretzels to redefine a word to suit their agenda, it upsets me, because that's straight out of the GOP playbook. What's different, of course, is that liberals are doing it to counteract Republicans' twisted belief that all terrorism is committed by Muslims, or people of color in general -- so they want to make it clear that terrorism can be committed by all walks of life. This is true. But two wrongs don't make a right. Still, motivation does count for something -- not just when defining terrorism! -- so Rosanne Cash's piece in The New York Times ("Country Musicians, Stand Up to the N.R.A.") definitely softened me on the subject.

In it she writes:
For the past few decades, the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans. You can see it in “N.R.A. Country,” which promotes the artists who support the philosophical, if not economic, thrall of the N.R.A., with the pernicious tag line “Celebrate the Lifestyle.” 
That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive. There is no other way to say this: The N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism. 
A shadow government exists in the world of gun sales, and the people who write gun regulations are the very people who profit from gun sales. The N.R.A. would like to keep it that way.
Powerful stuff. And I see why branding our mass shooters as "domestic terrorists" might feel like it raises the stakes from what has become a routine occurrence in American: mass shootings.

But as I said the other day. Dylann Roof was a domestic terrorist, because he set out to intimidate African Americans as part of a racist political agenda when he shot up a church in Charleston, S.C . So far, we know nothing about the Vegas shooter's motive, so my argument is that he's not technically a terrorist (yet), despite inflicting enormous terror on people.

But if this were really just about semantics, I wouldn't be that invested in it. But my concern is more political than anything. If the voting public thinks Democrats' answer to fighting ISIS and al-Qaida is to say, "But we have white people who kill way more people," how is this a solution to the very real problem is Islamic terrorism? (We know what the motivation is for a small percentage of Muslims -- they want to form a caliphate and will do anything along the way to let it be known.)

We don't know what motivates our mass murderers. But we DO KNOW what our unique problem is in the U.S.: too much access to GUNS -- and too many GUNS that fire too many bullets within seconds.

I just don't see the value in trying to lump this problem together with people who kill in the name of racism, religion or political motivation, other than to try to gloss over what Muslims terrorists have done and continue to do. (We know YOU KNOW all Muslims are not terrorists -- you don't need to pat yourself on the back every day on Facebook by blurting out "What about Timothy McVeigh?" every time ISIS strikes and people express concern.) And more than not seeing any value in it, I fear we will continue to alienate under-informed voters in middle America who have had the bejesus scared out of them -- even though we all know their chances of being killed by their own gun is 75 million times higher -- and want to know that their leaders hear them and are looking to protect them, not just reminding them that white people are just as bad or worse.


jaragon said...

The NRA should be classified as a terrorist organization they only care about selling guns no matter how many innocent people get slaughtered by gun wielding psychos

Jeffery said...

That kid threatening to kill you on the way home from school would be charged with terrorist threats today.

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