On “terrorists”

15 Apr

If you’ve been following the news about the bombs at today’s Boston Marathon, you’ve heard the “t” word: terrorist. Beyond the news, which is understandably scant right now in terms of answers, I’m hearing it all over casual conversations:

In an e-mail exchange, a friend wrote, “Someone told me that it was a terrorist incident.”

In an online chat, another friend asked, “Do we know if it’s terrorists?”

And my response has been, “What else would we call it?”

This bombing, like any bombing, is an act of terror, plain and simple. The feeling in my gut and heart tells me that.

My second response has been, “Do you mean: did ‘people outside the US’ do it?”

In both cases, the answer has been yes.

And as yet another friend argued that the movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO was “a very different type of act” than what he refers to as “terrorism,” all I could say was, “No, it’s different people. Still terror.”

So I’m writing today just to ask you to help stop the racism and nationalism that are triggered instantly, powerfully and (in some minds) justifiably when it comes to acts of terror. It’s in moments like this when we reflexively grab onto stereotypes and prejudice (that we “know better” than to express in our daily lives). And so it’s in moments like this when we have to practice and help each other to think, speak and be the people we want to be.

As we wait in the wake of this tragedy, let’s do what we can not to deepen hatred and fear.

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