“Terrorism” is a “hot word” in the American lexicon, and has been since the Twin Towers of the World trade Center came down on 9/11. This label is usually applied to brown people identifying as Muslims. It is applied so haphazardly to this largely peace-loving, law-abiding group, that it seems that many Americans consider “terrorists” to be a race of people. The notion of terrorism has come up recently in talks in the media. Broadcasters and law enforcement are very slow to label a White person committing violent crimes as a terrorist.
With the recent massacre in San Bernadino, the laws were hesitant to say whether or not the shooters were terrorists. That is, until it was revealed that they were brown people. Many in the Black community would consider Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter that took nine Black lives at Emanuel AME in June. Many of us also consider the myriad of police who have killed unarmed Black people as terrorists. However, these killers are rarely referred to as such. This is largely due to the semantics of the word “terrorism.” The term is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” This seems to deviate from the definition of “terroristic threats” (a declaration of intent to commit a crime of violence against another with the intent of threatening a person, building, facility, or public or private habitat), because there’s no politics involved in that (remember, Puffy caught that charge when he attacked his son’s football coach). The FBI elaborates even more on its definition of “domestic terrorist.” The Bureau’s definition is as follows:
“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
- Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
- Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
- Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
Now, with Roof and the cops, it is hard to fit them into this linguistic box. There is one man who pulled a recent mass shooting who, after recent reports, definitely fits this definition. That man is Robert Lewis Dear, the man charged with shooting up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last month that took three lives and injured nine.
This writer was skeptical of Dear’s motives because of the setting he decided to unleash havoc. Planned Parenthood is one of the most controversial entities in our society, because women go there to have abortions performed. Anyone who is in tune with society knows that abortion is a polarizing topic and there are extremists on each end. According to VICE, Dear is pro-life and his stance is what led him to let loose on innocent people. In court today, the 57-year-old, who is facing 179 charges, yelled out, “I’m a warrior for the babies!” He continued, “You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. The babies.”
According to the VICE piece, Dear is well aware that he is guilty, but his actions line up with the definition of terrorism, and he should be labeled as a terrorist from here on out. He intimidated a civilian population. It could be said that he was trying to influence government policy. Shooting people was a dangerous violation of state and federal law. He surely affected the conduct of a government funded operation by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping. It surely happened on American soil. No matter how you feel about abortion, there is nothing separating Dear’s rampage from those of Muslim militants declaring jihad. Will the media actually call this White man a terrorist? That is yet to be seen.