In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting Monday, there’s been one word carelessly thrown around and touted by the left: Terrorism.
The internet lit up with debate on whether or not to call the Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, a terrorist for his heinous act.
This debate invariably erupts every time a white shooter is covered in the media, but the emotional arguments from liberals are beginning to distort the way this term is applied.
Labeling such a tremendous brutal attack as terrorism with little to no information about intent or the shooter’s mental health history is a mistake.
Clark County sheriff Joe Lombardo has not called Paddock a terrorist, instead describing him as a “lone-wolf attacker,” in an interview with the LA Times. If Lombardo isn’t calling the tragedy an act of terrorism, then the public should follow that script.
This speaks volumes, especially considering Nevada’s definition of terrorism as “any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.”
Seeing as it would’ve been no stretch for Lombardo to call Paddock a terrorist, it’s important to note his specific choice in diction. This is a responsibility the public needs to recognize as well.
Speculation is one thing, and questioning the police and media is important, but in a situation like this, it’s best to wait until all the details are uncovered before criticizing.
There is still no definitively known motive for the attack. The public is only aware that the act was planned out with 23 guns and 10 suitcases, amid other details regarding the incident.
It is for this reason that the outcry coming mainly from the left to refer to Paddock as a terrorist is misguided, at least until more is known about his motive.
Demanding that the media stop beating around the bush and label Paddock a terrorist only indicates an emotional response rather than an intellectual one and if that argument gains any traction, it’ll destroy the meaning of this label that is so begrudgingly necessary.
It’s especially troubling that celebrities are the ones leading this blind train of calling Paddock a terrorist. Ariana Grande tweeted, “My heart is breaking for Las Vegas. We need love, unity, peace, gun control & for people to look at this & call this what it is = terrorism.” Although she may have a stake in this argument because of the attack on her Manchester concert, she has no real authority on the issue.
Her sentiment follows a similar path as other well-known liberals. Actress Emmy Rossum and artist Lady Gaga both expressed displeasure over the labeling of Paddock and his actions.
It’s no secret that past events have often portrayed a white shooter as someone who harbors some mental illness instead of someone committing an act of terrorism; it’s a race thing. It’s important to be aware of this dichotomy and modern-day racism.
But it’s just as important to be aware of exactly what the word terrorism means.
A terrorist act, in the safest and most realistic definition as defined by the FBI, includes some sort of political motive that is ultimately fueling the action. In the case of the Vegas shootings, the motive is still unclear, and labeling it terrorism too soon would obscure the terms we use to identify real terrorist actions.
Ultimately, Paddock should be labeled as one thing and one thing only, at least for now – a mass-shooter.