By AMINA RANA
March 23, 2017
“Our rhetoric displays a plaguing idea that other races or religions are not liable for terrorism as colored people are, particularly those who practice Islam. “
What does terrorism look like?
If you thought of a bearded Arab man, a brown Muslim guy, a Muhammad, an Abdul, then to at least half of the world, you’re correct!
Our idea of what terrorism is has undoubtedly become warped by the hands of current events and cynical political rhetoric.
A recent tweet from the CNN Breaking News account wrote in reference to the violent attack outside British Parliament,
— CNN (@CNN) March 22, 2017
What could this attack be other than terrorism? It was obviously an act of terror. So what is the police investigating? Oh, perhaps they’re waiting to see if this crime was “inspired by Islamic ideology” as Prime Minister Theresa May put it. If it was, then its terrorism. If not, an isolated, sad, violent crime.
At the juncture this tweet was posted, there were already facts substantiated from multiple news sources. There had been an attack at the London Parliament by a man whose identity had not been released at the time who had stabbed a police officer after apparently attempting to run over civilians with a vehicle.
Now, much more has unfolded. Four people have died and 40 injured.
Before unraveling the full story of what occurred in the London, it was blindingly apparent that this was an act of terror.
The information disseminated initially lacked details. But it wasn’t wrong. We knew it was an act of terror. What we learned later confirmed our worst fears, that multiple deaths occurred along with many injuries as a result of the man plowing into civilians with his vehicle.
Regardless, it is clear there had been an act of terror by attempting to cause harm near a governmental building.
Isn’t that what terrorism is?
If the perpetrator is Arab or Muslim, then absolutely! If he’s white, he’s probably just mentally unstable.
Take Adam Lanza, for example. There was never any mention of terrorism after the horrors of Sandy Hook. The focus immediately spotlighted on how we can limit gun access available to those suspected of mental instability.
Likewise, in 2012 James Holmes, who entered a screening of the The Dark Knight Rises and managed to kill 12 people, was labeled as mentally disturbed. The issue of gun violence came to the forefront of the political arena soon after.
This isn’t to say that cases like San Bernardino or Fort Hood do not constitute terrorism. Rather, it is that other attacks committed by other races and people of different religions other than Islam are categorized separately fused with our affinity towards calling out terrorism.
Our rhetoric displays a plaguing idea that other races or religions are not liable for terrorism as colored people are, particularly those who practice Islam. But we need to clarify that terrorism does not discriminate between races. There is no rule that dictates what race a terrorist must be or what faith they must follow in order to be categorized as one.
The definition of terrorism verbatim states,
“the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
Hadn’t Lanza and Holmes done just that? Target innocent civilians in public areas to terrorize?
Unfortunately, news media and illustrations of terrorism are synonymous with Muslims, Middle Easterners and generally brown-skinned people.
Before unraveling the full story of what occurred in the London, it was blindingly apparent that this was an act of terror. The very fact that this occurred at the London Parliament indicates that the individual, regardless of what faith they practiced or where they originated, had the intention of disrupting the politics of Britain, both literally and figuratively.
Anyone is capable of committing acts of violence. No one is exempt from being labeled a terrorist. In order for the world to move forward and unite against such dark forces, we need to avoid dividing rhetoric.
It is once we confront such divisions that we can call out the perpetrators of these heinous attacks for what they are and hold them accountable for their actions.
Playing into the same hateful and marginalizing rhetoric used by terrorists will circulate fears that will bring out the worst in us.