Terrorism, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”
It’s what we witnessed with horror in Paris this past Friday. The world is riddled with terrorism and it’s heinous. There’s no arguing the point.
But I have a huge problem with the bellicose outcry from those who are all about bombs and borders. If that’s the answer to terrorism then let’s at least expand the war so we go after all the terrorists … not just the ones who aren’t Christian or aren’t Jewish or aren’t us – whatever ‘us’ is.
So yeah – let’s go after the KKK and the neo-Nazis. And oh yeah. let’s go after those folks who believe it’s okay to murder doctors and bomb clinics in order to impose their values on women and achieve their political goals. Let’s go after the right-wing, ‘home grown’ terrorists who have killed significantly more of ‘us’ than ‘they’ have.
Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.
In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.
Oh, and then there’s this – for those who think that terrorism is our main threat:
Meanwhile, terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America. There have been more than 215,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. For every person killed by Muslim extremists, there have been 4,300 homicides from other threats.
Surely more guns will help solve THAT problem – because look at how well it’s worked to date!
Interestingly, it sounds like the government’s hands are tied when it comes to the militias and white supremacists and other dangerous folks who fly great big “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and call themselves “patriots” and have huge caches of weapons and ammunition and hate Obama and walk amongst us. Apparently, though they have killed and continue to threaten to kill, they can’t be arrested or tried as terrorists.
So that’s partly why I want to expand the war on terror – those people really scare me.
The other reason has to do with a more inclusive — and I think equally meaningful — definition of violence.
“Violence” or to “do violence to” — according to the OED — means “to damage or adversely affect.” So we’re not just talking about sudden death. Maybe we’re talking about slow death. Or perhaps that species of damage that stunts and contorts the soul, or takes years to have its effects fully appear.
This introduces a whole new category of terrorism — doers of violence. So, I’d sincerely like to expand my war to these terrorists, too! They are doing more violence to the good citizens of the USA (and the world) than any of the groups that we are so worried about.
I don’t minimize the damage done and the losses suffered at the hands of groups like ISIS. But these other ‘terrorists’ are operating on a MUCH larger scale. The havoc they wreak is insidious, long-term, highly profitable, generally socially acceptable … and as lethal as the activities we decry from ISIS et al.
Who are they?
- I’m talking about folks like the NRA and the gun manufacturers they support in the guise of protecting people’s Second Amendment rights.
- I’m talking about the big banks and the big insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical companies and the big oil companies.
- I’m talking about the fast food chains and giant food manufacturers that offer non-nutritious-or-worse food at ‘affordable’ prices.
- I’m talking about the insurance companies and the Monsanto’s and the Halliburton’s of the world.
- Hell, I might even be talking about the NFL!
Who has destroyed more lives and done more damage to the USA than the tobacco companies? Their profitability is a boon to their shareholders – and at what cost? It’s self-interest run amok. Blindingly entitled … and it’s the same for the rest of them – each in their own way.
But I know we’ll never actually label these folks as anything other than upstanding citizens. These are powerful groups with powerful lobbies. We won’t even call them evil-doers, as Dubya used to like to say about those other terrorists – the ones who look different from ‘us.’
But I surely do wish we would — call them what they are, I mean.
It would be, at the very least, cleansing.