What’s the first thought that comes to our mind when we hear the word, “terrorism”? Usually, we think of dark-skinned men wrapped in turbans, with AK-47’s, shooting up a mall or flying planes into buildings. We constantly hear about terrorist attacks, as well as the riots formed to decry them. The media constantly feeds us emotional accounts about terrorist attacks at schools, malls, and airports. These stories stir up our wrath and fuel a sense of patriotism in our hearts.
Let’s backtrack a moment. What’s the standard definition of terrorism? According to dictionary.com, terrorism is “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” Under this definition, threatening someone to silence under pain of death in order to cover up political scandals is terrorism. Using force to strip-search in the airport is terrorism. Sound familiar? Interestingly enough, our government falls under the definition of being a terrorist.
Although we live in a country which claims liberty and freedom for all, today we watch as many of these freedoms and personal rights slip from our grasp. How did this happen? It all comes down to pride and greed. Ronald Reagan said, “There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” We can see this at work in our country. As our government expands, it grows in power. This power is often abused in violence and force. Of course, the media tries to manipulate us into thinking that the more government, the better. Why is this not true?
Our government is made up of people. In general (depending on your worldview), people are corrupt. Politicians want power. They will do what it takes to gain that power, and since their self-interest is most important to them, if their policies or goals hurt the economy or society, what’s it to them as long as they don’t look bad?
Now I realize I am generalizing a bit here. Not all politicians are bad politicians (even though that is a bit of an oxymoron). Some conservative politicians do seem to seek the best interest of our nation. However, for the most part, it seems that many politicians just want to make their way to the top and will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals.
Now, how does this relate to terrorism? So what if the government has more control? Well, it just so happens that the more control and power the government is allowed to wield, the more force and violence they use to violate an individual’s right. If a policeman tells me to do something and I refuse to do it because they have no warrant, technically they have no power over me, but today, we have a police force who will use force against an individual inappropriately. (https://www.nlg-npap.org/topics/excessive-force) Is this not terrorism?
How can it be that when we turn on the TV and watch footage of Arabic men wrapped in turbans blasting machine guns, we immediately see terrorism at work in the world, yet when we see the TSA walking around in the airport ready to use any force to make you comply with their rules, we don’t call that terrorism? How is it that we do not see a sometimes out-of-control police force as terrorism?
We must learn to call something what it is. Society today is brainwashed into thinking that when the government, which is made up of people, harms or violates an individual’s rights, they have a reason behind their actions and therefore have a right to do so. Legislature even makes laws giving the government to violate an individual’s rights, even if it is out of simple suspicion.
We seem to forget that the fourth amendment, or any amendment, in this case, was written in order to constrain the government in its power. When the government uses violence or force or threats in order to violate an individual’s God-given rights, we must learn to call it what it is: terrorism. It is a scary word, but we must learn to recognize it when we see it. Terrorism does not only apply to dark-skinned Arab men wrapped in turbans. It applies to any individual or government who violates an individual’s or a group of individuals’ rights without appropriate cause.