I was born Muslim with a very Muslim-sounding name. I've been called a terrorist both in jest and in accusation. I've been asked to explain the terrorist acts of the Orlando shooter, of the London bombing at the Ariana Grande concert. I've been told that Islam is an innately evil religion, and that terrorism and the faith of my grandparents and family and community enable "terroristic" qualities.
So I'm a bit sensitive when I notice that people who aren't brown or Muslim who commit acts of terror aren't labeled as such. For example, Timothy McVeigh wasn't a terrorist. Dylan Roof wasn't a terrorist. James Holmes wasn't a terrorist. Adam Lanza wasn't a terrorist. And so on and so forth.
So when Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old white male opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring 515. I wasn't surprised when people called him anything other than a terrorist. Which I guess is understandable, because people have differing opinions on what the definition of terrorism is.
If Stephen Paddock voted for Trump he is a terrorist— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) October 2, 2017
If Stephen Paddock voted for Clinton he is a terrorist
If Stephen Paddock voted for Stein or Sanders he is a terrorist
If Stephen Paddock did not vote he is a terrorist
I don't need to wait..
Stephen Paddock is a terrorist
But the state of Nevada's definition of terrorism is pretty clear: "any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion and violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population."
So why is Nevada Sheriff Lombardo not calling Paddock's actions terrorism? Why is Trump not calling Paddock a terrorist, even though he immediately called the London subway bombing suspect a terrorist, while bringing up his travel ban?
The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
It's not that difficult to see there's a clear double standard in how freely the president throws the word "terrorist" around.
Donald Trump on January 20: “this American carnage ends now.”— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 2, 2017
Donald Trump on October 2: “warmest condolences” to mass shooting victims.
Nomenclature is important for building a specific narrative, it seems. Maybe people aren't calling Paddock a terrorist by the state of Nevada and pretty much everyone else's definition of the word, because his profile doesn't fit the narrative of what people generally accept as a terrorist? IE, some bearded brown Muslim shouting the name of Allah before blowing himself up or firing off rounds in a public place?
Here are all the names people are using to describe Paddock other than a terrorist:
The ever popular, "lone wolf."
The "sole actor."
There's also the "sole aggressor."
A "local individual."
A "distraught person."
Then there were the normal guy variants like, "Multimillionaire Las Vegas shooter, 64, was a hunting enthusiast, licensed pilot and gambler with no criminal record who owned a $400,000 home in Nevada retirement community."
A "typical Vegas guy."
A "laid back" guy.
Not fitting a "mass shooter profile."
"Just a guy who...liked burritos."
A "friendly gambler."
A "crazed lunatic of hate."
No "connection to terror."
An "act of pure evil."
Do you think there's a double standard when it comes to the "T" word?