Monday, January 4, 2016

Terrorists vs. Assholes

Terrorists are total assholes, but not all assholes are terrorists. While this may seem obvious, it's clear that we could all use a refresher.

Let's start with definitions.

The FBI states that domestic terrorism must contain the following three characteristics. It must:

  • Happen within U.S. territory.
  • Include acts dangerous to human life that violate state or federal law.
  • Appear to be intended to 1) intimidate or coerce a civilian population, 2) influence government policy through intimidation or coercion, or 3) affect government actions through mass destruction, kidnapping, or assassination. 

These are terrorists

Let's apply this checklist to the situation in rural Oregon:

  • Happened in the U.S. - Check! (Last I checked, Oregon was in the U.S.)
  • Includes acts dangerous to human life - Nope!
  • Appears intended to 1) intimidate or coerce a civilian population - Nope! 2) influence government policy - Not really. 3) Affect government actions through mass destruction, kidnapping, or assassination - Nope!

Now, admittedly, that third point on the checklist gets a little murky. I could see an argument that their actions appear intended to influence government policy - that would be, the government's policy of continuing to maintain and administer federal land. However, the Bundy's redress of grievances focuses not on government policy, but on specific actions of the government. The armed militia is not trying to affect government actions through mass destruction, kidnapping, or assassination. So, that third point still gets a "not really."
These are not terrorists
While I can get behind the sentiment that had this militia been composed of anyone other than white people, the reaction would have been different, the reality is that no one was threatened or harmed in this, with the exception of the threat of violence as a response to government attempts to clear the building. It's not white-washing - they just aren't terrorists.

We don't need to apply the terrorist moniker to them to even the scoreboard - we should stop applying it where it doesn't belong. That's how you even the scoreboard and maintain perspective.

We should be taking action. We shouldn't take action because we'd take action if they were Muslims or if they were African American. That's not why. We need to make it clear that taking over a federal building - occupied or not, remote or not - will not be tolerated. Not by terrorists, not by assholes.

As funny as the terms #Y'allQaeda, #VanillaISIS, #TaliBundy, and #YeeHawd are, this isn't terrorism. They aren't terrorists - they're just assholes.



  • Da'ish/ISIL/ISIS/Whatever
  • Al-Qa'ida/Al Qaeda/Al Kayda/However
  • Boko Haram
  • Those Paris-hating assholes

Not Terrorists:

  • The man at work who wears a turban
  • The kid with a Super-Soaker
  • The asshole who pulls into the parking spot you sharked for hours to get
  • Those assholes occupying an empty rural federal building