Are school shooters domestic terrorists? Was the Las Vegas shooting an act of domestic terrorism? We as society quickly clip terrorism onto any national tragedy as it, well, inflicts terror.
Society is afraid, essentially at the hands of the others and the lawmakers. When we call something terrorism, we say there was motive we can pin to the government. We can identify threats and almost try to avoid them.
The Patriot Act defined domestic terrorism after 9/11. It said that when a party harms human life with the intentions (or appeared intention) to intimidate or coherence civilian population, influence government policy through intimidation and coercion, or affects government conduct through destruction, or intimidation, or assassination, then it is domestic terrorism.
So, does that make Nikolas Cruz a terrorist? Was Stephen Paddock a domestic terrorist?
“Well, yes,” many think. Technically no, they’re not. Now they did cause fear and terror, but it was not politically driven. As far as we know (though the aftershocks are fraught with politics due to gun control I digress).
No one knows their intentions. Cruz refuses to confess intention and Paddock was dead before explanation for needless slaughter was given.
An example of domestic terrorism is the Charlottesville killings. James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally. It was identified by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fit the credentials set by the Patriot Act. He acted to intimidate civilians protesting by attacking them, deterring them.
These shooters killed in the double digits and left the media in a storm of speculation. Mentally ill, politically driven, personally driven—we are clueless. So, why not terrorism?
Why not say Cruz had interest in Islam. Even if he mocked them by having said on his social media “at least we know what it means when a sand durka says “allahu Akbar.”” Yes, try to tie a grown man (as he was over eighteen) to terrorism using xenophobic strings. Even if he as an individual shared the same xenophobic views of the news outlet that tied him to that stereotype of what domestic terrorism is today (that source being the Geller Report, run by Pamela Geller who is the author of books such as Freedom Or Submission: On the Dangers of Islamic Extremism & American Complacency). The problem was not what religion he believed in but the failure to investigate him and give him the ability to kill in the masses when the FBI was tipped off about him.
Terrorism is political. Until Cruz reveals a motive, the Parkland shooting was senseless murder. Unless Paddock had hidden messages connecting him to mindsets of treason, anti-government, intention to affect us as a society on mindset—he senselessly killed.