Call It What It Is

Cindy Diaz, Staff Writer & Copy Editor

We all have different opinions and views on what is defined as an act of terrorism.

Some people overgeneralize this term and base it on their biased opinions about religious involvement. Whereas the rest believes that terrorism involves any activity that could potentially harm innocent people, with the sole purpose of causing political, social, and economic harm to local communities and even the nation itself.

Its official definition by the Oxford Dictionary is “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” However, news outlets and media, in general, don’t use this term accurately.

Take these people as real-life examples: Dylann Roof, a 23-year-old white supremacist who opened fire at a historic black church and killed nine people back in 2015, was called by many news outlets, such as Fox Carolina and NBC News, a “gunman” and a “mentally ill” person. But no one ever referred to him as a terrorist. Stephen Paddock, the perpetrator of the Las Vegas shooting, who killed more than fifty people and harmed five hundred more, wasn’t called a terrorist either. FoxNews, The Chicago Tribune, and even TIME, only called him “Las Vegas mass shooter”

Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist from The New York Times, discussed this problem in one of his articles. “If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim,” he said, “We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11.”

We live in a period of time that is mainly concerned about terrorism, and we are clearly not addressing these problems in proper ways. Instead, we prefer to romanticize the truth and hide the fact that we hold many prejudices against religious and ethnic groups. Both Dylann Roof and Stephen Paddock caused harm to innocent civilians, and there should be no reason to justify their actions. Regardless of their mental health or the reasons as to why they decided to take these people’s lives, we should start calling them by what they truly are: terrorists.