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Should the U.S. redefine terrorism?

Marissa Goodall

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In lieu of the recent shooting in Las Vegas, I think it is important to discuss domestic terrorism in the United States. I believe the current definition of domestic terrorism is too broad under the The Patriot Act. It should include language and federal charges that address the mass shootings plaguing the U.S.

According to The Patriot Act, domestic terrorism is an attempt to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” (Myre). Yet many citizens, including politicians of both parties, agree that the mass attacks on civilian citizens, whether politically motivated or not, is terrorism. This definition only addresses the political aspect of domestic terrorism. However, there are a host of reasons individuals may give for committing a heinous act. The definition should include language that is inclusive of all reasonings to stress the severity of the crime.

The definition also allows for officials to pick and choose what they consider to be terrorism. For example, President Trump was quick to denounce extremist Islamic terrorism yet was slow to consider white nationalism as far-right terrorism. According to Politifact, there have been “85 attacks in the U.S. by violent extremists resulting in 225 deaths. Of those 225 deaths, 106 individuals were killed by far-right violent extremists in 62 separate incidents.” (Valverde). This displays how the legal definition can be used to pick and choose what we consider terrorism, especially when Islamic extremism is the only accepted narrative.

Despite the Charleston shooting and Oklahoma City bombing, criminals such as Dylan Roof and Timothy McVeigh were convicted for many crimes, yet terrorism wasn’t one of them. This is because there isn’t a federal charge for domestic terrorism. Instead of compiling multiple charges, there should be a charge for domestic terrorism to ensure the crime is correctly identified and punished for what it is.

As the United States continues on this path of frequent violence, citizens should consider what domestic violence means to them. Should we continue with the broad definition given to us or reconsider its language as mass attacks and its effects become more rampant and devastating?

Myre, Greg. “What Is, And Isn’t, Considered Domestic Terrorism.” NPR, NPR, 2 Oct. 2017, www.npr.org/2017/10/02/555170250/what-is-and-isnt-considered-domestic-terrorism?scrlybrkr=bfd3f842.

Valverde, Miriam. “What the Data Shows on Domestic Terrorism Perpetrators.” PolitiFact, PolitiFact, 16 Aug. 2016, 10:00, www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/aug/16/look-data-domestic-terrorism-and-whos-behind-it/?scrlybrkr=38580c02#.

Below are the stories featured in this issue of The Roaring Gazette.

Do students and staff believe schools should start later? by Khyannia Banks

Lion Voices: Describe the most interesting teacher you’ve ever had by Frances Summers

Meet a Lion: Mr. Waagen by Bethany Hansel

“Five minute phone policy” helps students focus in class by Finnley Brakke

Should the U.S. redefine terrorism? by Marissa Goodall

Food industry giant must rethink its policy by Ashley Archila-Ventura

“The Good Doctor” shines a light on an important issue by Sotiria Bessinas

Taco Bell an under-rated gem by Chris Purkiss

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