Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Quit Saying "Terrorist"

I'm getting really tired of this.  A young man who (from the news coverage) came to this country, got a green card, and lived here quietly for several years, recently decided to drive a rental truck through a group of walkers and bicyclists in New York City.  He killed 8 people and injured several more.  From the note in Arabic which he left in his truck, it's pretty clear that he bought the Islamic State line, and was radicalized in the last few months.  So he's a terrorist.  Oooh, cringe in terror.

And yet, the 64 year old white man who set up a sniper post in a Las Vegas hotel and killed 58 people attending a country music festival, and injured over 500 others - he's not a terrorist.  This is pretty obviously because the news media buys the racist line that you are only a terrorist if you have brown skin, were not born in America, and speak Arabic.  If you're white, you can't be a terrorist.  Is that racist?  Yup, it is.

This is baloney.  High grade, all beef, thinly sliced baloney.  Can we please call people who kill other people, for whatever ridiculous reason, what they are?  They are criminals.  It is a crime to kill other humans.  It's been a crime for so long that it's even in the Ten Commandments - Thou shalt not kill.  I might add it is also in the Quran.  Every major religion prohibits killing.

I am in much more daily danger from crazy white men with guns than I am from the Islamic state.  Yes, Islamic terrorists (from Al Qaeda, by the way, not ISIS) killed 2,996 people in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.  Politifact reports that the U.S. had 24 deaths from terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in the decade between 2005 and 2015.  In the same decade, deaths from mass shootings (all done, as far as I know, by white men) totaled 279,976.  I am not making this up.  Read the Politifact article.  Note that that doesn't include the targets of the Las Vegas shooter.

When we use a term like "terrorist", we deflect attention from the problem of gun violence in this country.  Anyone using a credit card can buy any kind of gun.  We're terrified of "terrorists."  Our current odds of dying in a terrorist attack are one in 3.6 billion.  I wrote this up years ago and can't find the post; but I remember that your odds of dying from an overdose of Tylenol were higher than those of dying from a terrorist attack.  Google it and you'll see what I mean.

The other reason I want to quit saying "terrorist" is that we have the insane idea that you have to fight terrorists with the military.  Militaries were built to fight countries, not organized guerrilla movements, which is what ISIS was - and still is.  The guy who ran over people in New York was a criminal, a murderer, and he should be tried and convicted in a criminal court and not shoved off into Guantanamo as an "enemy combatant."  The only thing we will achieve against "Islamic terrorists" by using the U.S. military is to kill more American soldiers.  We need to stop and rethink the entire situation.  I wish I thought we had a government that could do that.


  1. If you are truly concerned by calling someone who kills another by the right term then it would be simply "killer." The term "Terrorist" assigns a political motivation, just as "criminal" assigns a legal one.

    Legal killing goes on every day and those who participate in the sanctioned taking of life are disparaged, ignored, or lionized based on ones acceptance or rejection of those sanctions.

    While war is the most obvious sanctioned example of killing, the legal and medical systems each have their own set of sanctions.

    You cite religious teachings to reinforce the criminal nature of killing. I don't see exceptions made in the ten commandments, yet Jewish law did allow for the killing of some, and clearly supported the of killing enemies as a part of their wars. I believe the same can be said for the Quran.

    I hazard a guess you have no desire to call those who assist in suicide or abortion criminals, it seems obvious though that you wish to undermine the concept that there are individuals, who for political reasons, seek to terrorize others into accepting the moral basis of their cause.

  2. I've reread my original post, and I still think my arguments are quite clear. You choose to disagree with me, for reasons I don't quite follow; that's your right. Why I think what I think is no concern of yours.