Terrorism is defined as acts of violence unleashed upon civilians in order to spread fear among the masses. The definition holds no specific criteria for any race, religion, ethnicity or the number of lives lost to be counted as terrorism.

Last month, the Las Vegas mass shooting left 58 dead and became the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. Despite that, it hasn’t been labeled as terrorism, nor was the attacker called a terrorist.

He was white, so naturally, he was a “mentally unstable lone wolf.”

At the end of the same month, a man in Manhattan New York rammed his pickup truck into pedestrians and fired into the crowd a few times before he was taken down. He killed 8 people. In stark contrast to the Vegas incident, this one was promptly labeled as an “act of terror.”  The perpetrator was apparently a brown Muslim man, who was heard chanting Arabic after his vehicular rampage.

Naturally, he was classified as a radical Islamic Terrorist.

Not less than five days later, a 64-year-old white male opened fire into a Baptist Church full during Sunday prayers. More than 26 people were killed, including women, children and the old. This didn’t count as a terrorist incident either. The man was depressed for some time and he decided the best way to deal with it was to kill more than two dozen innocent people in a place of worship.

Why is it that “terrorism” seems to only describe incidents (regardless of lives lost) where the perpetrator is a brown person?

Just as a violent gangster is somehow usually a black person, or a Latino person is the one involved in a drug ring. Why is an equally violent white man always a mentally challenged person, with an unclear motive and a need for a psych evaluation?

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[Image Description: a list of statistics showing the number of Americans killed annually by various reasons, the highest stat being that of “shot by another American”] Source: Pinterest
We say we want to break stereotypes – then why can’t we stop labeling things based on stereotypes?

We also say love has no boundaries or limitations – but so does fear, and so do the means to spread it. Yet we seem to forget that.

We also forget to highlight how much the NRA actually profits from each and every one of these incidents. They help make a dark marketing and sales strategy for ammunition and weaponry, further helped by the lack of gun regulations.

Studies show how the sale of arms spike up right after a violent incident; a supply and demand balance whereby the latter consists of taking innocent lives and the supply being the means to do so.

Doesn’t that sound like a shady scheme?

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[Image description: a news caricature showing men with the labels “House” and “Senate” bowing before a gun statue that says “NRA” while saying their thoughts and prayers are with the victims] Source: Pinterest
While all the incidents are despicable, the perpetrators are all one thing: terrorists. Marketing a specific religion or ethnicity as the only “American terrorist” is just a way propagate reactionary fear and hatred.

If we can recognize all the different forms hate can take, we can overcome it better and for good. And we can do it together.

  • Arsh Khan

    Graduated with an Honours degree in Applied Psychology from Kinnaird College for Women University. Partnerships & Community Manager at The Tempest. Just your sassy, classy, and very smart-assy Pakistani woman whose dream is to sip on some good chai while she watches the patriarchy burn to the ground.