3 Dead, 9 Injured in Colorado: Who Are the Real Terrorists?

Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons, Sam Howzit

Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons, Sam Howzit

Seattle, Washington (TFC) –  A terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday afternoon has successfully diverted political attention back to the ever-contentious issues of gun control and abortion rights in America. The deadly rampage began near a crowded shopping center in the Planned Parenthood parking lot before the shooter holed up in the clinic. The attack caused the deaths of two American civilians and a police officer. Several others were injured. The New York Times reports that the gunman was “focused on the medical clinic, but indiscriminate with his targets.” The suspected terrorist is in custody and has been identified by the mainstream media as Robert Lewis Dear, a recluse from North Carolina who earlier this year registered to vote in Colorado. Little more is reported to be known about Dear at this point, and the motives of this terrorist attack are still open to speculation.

This is not how the news reports read Saturday morning. Dear is referred to as a shooter, a suspect, or by name. Terrorism is defined by the FBI as acts that are “dangerous to human life”, “violate federal or state law”, and “appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” The only difference between the definitions of domestic and international terrorism is the jurisdiction in which they take place. The response to terrorism domestically could not be any more different from the policy abroad, and no doubt for good reason. If the public reacted to domestic terrorism like they react to international terrorism, many people would be gung ho to bomb North Carolina right now.

Far more Americans die as a result of domestic terrorism. In fact, mass shootings are happening virtually every day in America. According to Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 338 mass shootings so far in 2015; this number has not yet been updated to include the Colorado Springs shooting. Saturday, November 28 was the 332nd day of 2015. Including this most recent terrorist attack, there have been more mass shootings than there have been days of the year. The agenda is fear, hate, and terror. Terrorism happens every day, right here in our own country. Regardless of your stance on abortion or gun rights, I hope we all can agree that this is a serious problem.

It is time to face the facts about terror and terrorism. There is just as much violence in American culture as there is in the Middle East. There is not something innately evil about Muslims; the Christian Bible is just as full of murder and atrocities as the Qur’an. If we can collectively point to a culture and say that something is fundamentally wrong with their ideology, we must be open and honest enough to admit our own culture is violent and sociopathic as well. In the aftermath of yet another alarming terrorist attack on American soil, can we be brave enough to ask if somehow extreme religious fundamentalism or fierce conservative nationalism is at the root of this pervasive violence?

America has waged an aggressive and expensive war against terrorism all these years, yet people are more terrorized than ever before. Terrorism is a ubiquitous term these days, but the media mostly applies it to what goes on over there. Let us be honest and call mass shootings in America for what they are: terrorist attacks. Let us be just as ruthless about condemning our own culture as we are about condemning others. Perhaps leveling the playing field will finally shed some light on the real reasons behind the never-ending war: a global financial racket and the military industrial complex.