EDITORIAL: Americans take note: Non-religious shooters can be terrorists too

Observer Editorial Board

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Mass shootings and terrorism are constantly in the headlines.

constant in many recent headlines and “jihadist” seemingly becoming the buzzword of the millennium, terrorism has been at the forefront of many people’s minds.

But why is it that when a school shooting such as Columbine or Umpqua Community College occurs, the topic of religion hardly ever surfaces? Instead, the perpetrators’ mental instability is the burning issue. But if the perpetrators look like the couple from the San Bernardino shooting–Syed Rizwan Farook or Tashfeen Malik–the event is instantly deemed an act of terrorism and linked to the Islamic idea of jihad. And that, in turn, prompted calls for banning Muslims from entering the country.

However, instilling fear in a people through violent and devastating acts, also known as terrorism, isn’t exclusive to religious communities.

Unless the attack is at an abortion clinic, the media seldom points the finger at the attacker’s Christian background.

Terrorism has existed as a tactic for domination not only by religious groups, but also by many secular groups throughout the centuries.

So why is it that a white man’s violent act upon his fellow students is driven by mental illness, but a Muslim man’s strike against the government is religious terrorism?

The Oregon Militia, which has taken over a wildlife refuge in Eastern Oregon, doesn’t claim to be acting in the name of any god or for the gain of any religion. They are, however, acting in a manner that could be considered terrorism.

The militia is armed and wants people to be afraid and for that fear to prompt the government to turn the land back to private citizens. It’s not that far from the goal of ISIS, which sends  young fighters seeking martyrdom into crowds with a bomb strapped to their chest.

So far, the U.S. government has refrained from intervening, hoping they’ll dissolve from their own internal dissension. But can you imagine the response if the group holed up at the refuge was Islamic?

These groups have more in common than you would think.

Generally, terrorists are disenfranchised people unhappy with what their government is doing. These groups eventually hit the boiling point, and the cost usually amounts to the loss of human lives, most usually innocent.

Whether there is any evidence of mental illness involved or not, terrorism, on a very base level, is usually meant to illicit a reaction from the victims involved. Without the crazed and frenzied response of people, terrorism wouldn’t have much of an impact.

The focus of our country today should be fighting the idea, rather than assigning blame and increasing the killings through wars founded on differences and misunderstandings.

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2 Responses to “EDITORIAL: Americans take note: Non-religious shooters can be terrorists too”

  1. Aristotles on January 23rd, 2016 11:36 am

    If irreligion is on the table, then religion is, too.

    The San Bernardino shooting was a nominal product of the religion of Islam.


  2. lol on January 26th, 2016 1:32 pm

    Terrorists are motivated by a range of different ideas and ideologies. Don’t downplay the fact that a lot of terrorism right now worldwide IS stemming from radicalized Islamic ideology.
    Of course it’s not the only factor, economic stagnation, poverty, war, insecurity and geopolitics all factor into them, but Islam is the rallying cry being used by ISIS and Al-Queda, like it or not.
    Just like Christian terrorists in America who ‘save muh babies by murdering people’ nutjobs, or Buddhist terrorists who massacre Muslims in southeast Asia, or Christian and Muslim terrorists in Africa who routinely butcher each others villages.
    Some of them are mentally unstable, others feel like they have good reasons to do what they do. Don’t try and ‘politically correct’ organized murder for any agenda, bleeding heart liberal, ‘I’m a xenophobe’ conservative, or any other ideology.

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EDITORIAL: Americans take note: Non-religious shooters can be terrorists too