Is there cultural privilege in terrorism?

Serina Gousby

Domestic terrorism is a huge issue in this country, where Americans are killing each other for various reasons. It’s logically unfair and wrong to treat every Muslim in this country as a terrorist, when any background, race, and religion are capable of committing acts of violence.

In the United States, the word “terrorist” has been mainly used to describe and offend those who practice the religion of Islam, or are of Middle Eastern descent. In the news today, presidential candidates like Donald Trump want to ban Muslims from the country. It’s disgusting how one religion and race are always targeted for being terrorist sympathizers, but the truth is, not all Muslims and Middle Easterners are terrorists and killers.

Within this year, there have been over 300 mass shootings involving at least four people shot or killed, and more often than not, the shooter was not a part of an Islamic group. Clearly the issue is not about Muslims, but the rights and laws pertaining to guns. Effective gun control laws that will reduce the chances of mass shootings are very critical to have right now. A civilian’s access to a gun should not be so easy that we let this many shootings to happen, and the argument about using guns for just protection is no longer an excuse.

As of today, I have not heard anyone call the shooters from the past year, terrorists, and the question stands, is it because they are white, male Americans?

On Dec. 2, 14 people were killed and 21 people were injured at a holiday party in San Bernardino, CA, according to the L.A. Times. The two deceased shooters are Pakistanis and reported in various news outlets as “ISIS supporters.” Of course, once the news broke out, it was immediately called an act of terrorism. Obviously it was, but not because of their culture.

In the early stages of the shooting, a witness called into CBS News and described the attackers as three white men. From there, it was still undetermined if it was an act of terrorism because the motive was unknown. That is so disturbing because if people randomly start shooting and killing at a public event, wouldn’t someone think it was terrorism?

The definition of terrorism is “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Although the word stresses that it involves a political reason, it is not limited to that one reason. It is important to know that the attacks, such as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, were Islamic terrorist attacks, but terrorism is not based on religion or culture.

Just days before the San Bernardino shooting, a white gunman by the name of Robert Lewis Dear, killed three and injured nine on Nov. 29 at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to the L.A. Times. His reported motive behind his “no baby parts” comment, was that he was against the act of abortion, in which Planned Parenthood supports.

This sounds like terrorism because to use violence and a dangerous weapon to hurt innocent victims is definitely an act of unnecessary terror. However, I’ve seen no one address him as a terrorist as of yet, especially now since San Bernardino overshadowed this attack.

Another attack that happened this year was on Jun. 18 when white gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof killed nine people in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. This was a race-motivated attack, as the shooter was a supporter of the confederate flag, known for his racial violent posts online, and was reported that he wanted to create racial tension due to events that were perceived to him as against whites, according to NBC News.

In addition, all nine victims were African Americans, and survivors reported that Roof shouted racial slurs during the attack. Again, after all of this information was released, where is his terrorist stamp?

Even one of the most devastating mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., which killed 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, by a young white male, wasn’t discussed as an act of terrorism. Violence, in where a large amount of people are fatally and critically harmed, is an act of terrorism and there should be no reason other than that fact to call these dangerous people terrorists.

If all Muslims are “terrorists” then Christians are as well, coining the Ku Klux Klan. It is time to stop labeling particular religions and backgrounds as the problem, and focus on individuals, extremists groups, and gun control in our own country; those are the real problems.