Lone Wolf or Terrorist?

Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller at the beginning of June, and the attack on the Holocaust Museum, many on the left have characterized these actions as “Terrorism” and warned that they are likely to continue as long as the “Hate Speech” that motivates these actions go unchallenged. Just yesterday, Solon at Open Pen wrote a great piece about the rise of hate groups in the US, as well as here in Tennessee. In today’s USA Today, writer Jonathan Turley challenges the assertion that this amounts to “Domestic Terrorism”. From the article:

The fact is that Roeder and von Brunn appear to be murderers, not terrorists. Many people kill strangers out of hate for their race or religion or some other association. Colin Ferguson killed six people and injured 19 in 1993 on the Long Island Rail Road in a race-based rage. Last July, Jim Adkisson shot and killed two people at a church in Knoxville, Tenn., because he hated liberals. These are acts of loners or rogue operators who seek to satisfy a blood lust against different groups.

Perhaps Mr. Turley is unfamiliar with the definition of “Terrorism”

terrorism |ˈterəˌrizəm|
noun
the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

lone wolf
noun
a person who prefers to act or be alone.

Mr. Turley and I may be arguing two definitions of “terrorism” (ie, the difference between how the word is defined, and how the law defines it) but to say that these actions are not in pursuit of a “political aim” is to say these actions are purely random, despite evidence to the contrary. I won’t go so far as to say that these individuals are part of a coordinated campaign of violence about to be unleashed on the American public, but calling it anything other than “terrorism” is to ignore the facts. By Mr. Turley’s standard, a lone wolf is just a criminal, even if he/she is politically motivated. That’s just ignoring the definition of “Terrorism”.

For terrorism to occur, you don’t have to have people firing rockets into another country, or strapping a bomb to their body. Terrorism occurs when violence is committed for political gain. There is no question that this is the case.

Let’s not try to “make this better” or candy coat reality. There are potential terrorists on all sides of the spectrum. The difference is the action. Once the action is committed, it becomes terrorism. It doesn’t have to be coordinated…it just has to be political.

0 thoughts

  1. I don’t know about von Brunn, but the anti-choice campaign is definitely a coordinated campaign of violence and there is evidence that Roeder didn’t act alone. The acts against abortion clinics, including vandalism definitely meet the definition of “violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Why doesn’t the Justice Department investigate these as acts of domestic terrorism? Good question.

  2. Absolutely it is terrorism. It’s neither random violence, as you say, nor is it an interpersonal beef. But it IS meant to dissuade physicians from performing perfectly legal and perfectly common healthcare procedures; to dissuade other health care professionals from working at places that offer such procedures; to dissuade women from seeking such procedures; and to dissuade other women from patronizing such places for any other services.

    If you’re shooting people in the face to send a message to other people—it’s terrorism.

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