Trump Distorts the Meaning of Terrorism

BY IDA-ROSE CHABON staff writer

On February 6, 2017, The White House released a statement of 78 terrorist attacks that Donald Trump considered to have been misreported or completely looked over by the media.

Included on this list were the attacks in Nice, Paris, Orlando, and San Bernardino. The list was released in an effort to shed light on the media’s, as Trump put it, “deliberate failure” to properly report terror attacks and to further prove to us that Trump’s travel ban is meant to preserve the safety of the American people. Out of the entire 78 events on the list, two types of attacks were missing: attacks perpetrated by white people and attacks in which non-Muslims were not the primary targets.

Let’s just clarify for a moment what terrorism means. Merriam-Webster defines terrorism as “the use of violence as a means of achieving a goal.”  On the other hand, the definition used by President Trump seems to be that terrorism is an act of violence committed by brown people toward white people.

The 2015 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that killed three and injured nine seems to not have made the cut for Trump’s list. This attack isn’t categorized by the president as terrorism either because it took place at a abortion clinic, or because it was perpetrated by a white man. A noticeable omission from the list of terror attacks is the 2015 Charleston, SC scooting that took place in the Emanuel AME church. Dylan Roof, a white supremacist, opened fire on a bible group of African-American worshippers. Roof killed nine people and injured four. Why was the Charleston church shooting not included on the White House’s terror list?

In January 2017, in Quebec, a Canadian man walked into a mosque during prayer and killed six people and wounded eight. Donald Trump did not tweet about this event, and when Kellyanne Conway was asked why not, she responded, “He doesn’t tweet about everything. He doesn’t make a comment about everything.” Instead, Trump chose to tweet about Meryl Streep, the Hamilton musical, and Nordstrom. This Quebec attack was not included in the list of under-reported terror events.

The list of attacks provided to the media by the White House was problematic for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that Trump seems to have forgotten the hundreds of articles published on attacks like those in Nice, he also seems to have forgotten the 215+ school shootings that have taken place in the United States since 2013.

There is a drastic inequality in the naming of terrorist attacks. When a white person commits an act of terror, they are a tortured soul, a lone wolf, and they absolutely do not represent their whole race and they aren’t called terrorists by the majority of media outlets.

When a person of color commits an act of terror, every person of their race or religion is at fault for their crime.

Instead of going to war with hard-working journalists, Trump needs to protect all people from acts of terrorism regardless of the religion, race, or ethnicity of the perpetrator or victim.