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June 16, 2009

They Are Us

What is terrorism and who are the people referred to as terrorists that commit these heinous crimes? I found the following definition at "Terrorism is premeditated, politically motivated violence-or the threat of violence-carried out against noncombatant targets. It differs from war, which is a military action formally undertaken by a government. Terrorism may be the work of individuals or groups that operate by stealth rather than by open assault. But governments also practice terrorism, sponsoring attacks against foreign states or individuals who are seen as enemies."

It is clear terrorists and terrorist extremists are not representative of one nation or one people. It is misleading and a disservice to assume they come from there. The mainstream media of America, especially since 9/11, has propagated the idea that a stranger from a strange land is usually a terrorist - especially if they are brown, a male of Middle Eastern descent, practices Islam, or is a Muslim. They are pigeonholed, labeled, targeted, and dangled like a carrot in front of every Americans television screen and radio to evoke terror. They are described as less than human, people without a cause except for hurting and harming Americans. It is time to stop absorbing the hate-filled rhetoric of television and radio jocks that cause harm of a different kind, fear.

I want to discuss domestic terrorism. It is not new to our country. In 1920 the financial district of New York was bombed and killed thirty people. The case was never solved. One of the most memorable cases of domestic terrorism was the 1963 bombing of the 16th Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls. A former Ku Klux Klan member was the terrorist and eventually convicted May 22, 2002. The Weather Underground carried out at least twenty-five bombings across this country in the sixties and seventies. It is clear that terrorism is not just them. If we don't stop finger pointing and taking our anger and righteous indignation out on them, we will miss the terrorist who lives next door.

Consider the murders of fellow Americans the past six weeks. Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider murdered at his church, in front of members of his congregation. William Andrew Long, a 23-year-old army private was shot and killed outside a recruiting office, and on June 10th 2009 Stephen Johns, a security guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum was shot dead by a man he thought he was helping. All these men were American citizens murdered by fellow citizens also known as domestic terrorist. Think about that let it sink in because if we don't recalibrate our countries notion of who to be afraid of, many more innocent citizens will die. The media, individually and collectively, have villainously portrayed terrorists as them. Many, too numerous to list, have mislead and fanned the flames of hatred towards them to boost ratings and use their platform to spout their own hateful beliefs, opinions and biased rhetoric.

The deaths of Dr. Tiller, William Long and Stephen Johns should be remembered not only as tragic unnecessary murders, but also as an opportunity to re-access how dangerous it is to label terrorist as them. Hatred and the decision to harm innocent people comes from every nation.

Today as you reflect on the escalating terrorism across this country, determine what YOU can do to help stop it. I have the following suggestions; stop entertaining yourself by listening to or watching hateful and bigoted media persons. Be aware of the people you surround yourself with and be willing to walk away if they practice and preach bigotry or hatred. Finally hold our government accountable for the prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of all terrorists, not just them. Empower yourself with the knowledge that changing the terror we witness can be and must be stopped. It starts with every individual saying "enough", then backing it up by standing together against evil - wherever it might live.

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