Should Stephen Paddock Be Labelled A Terrorist?
At 10pm last Sunday evening, Stephan Paddock committed one of, if not the, largest mass shootings in American history. By targeting festivalgoers at random during a country music concert, he terrorised a city, a state, and shook a world.
Should he, however, be labelled a terrorist?
Most media reports opted not to brand him as such. This decision that has been met with uproar and accusations of white privilege from many around the world. Had Stephen Paddock been a Muslim, the press would have probably been quick to the mark in labelling it a “terror attack”.
In a year that has seen incident after incident around the world, has this come to show that the dialogue around ‘terrorism’ must be changed? Or if not changed, at least become more fluid.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a terrorist as ‘a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.’
Unquestionably, the debate is not quite that simple.
Race, however, should not be the deciding factor. Darren Osbourne, a white man who drove a van into a group of Muslims at Finsbury Park Mosque is no less a terrorist than those behind the Manchester Arena or Westminster Attacks.
Although differing, a racial and prejudicial feeling had driven both incidents. One set of attackers pledged their allegiance to an international terror organisation. The other gave them exactly what they wanted by attempting to replicate such barbaric violence.
Not enough is known about Stephen Paddock – or his motives – to confidently label him anything but a mad man. A mad man with an arsenal of weapons who showed intent on killing innocent people.
Paddock’s attack was both well planned and well thought-out. That made it savage and barbaric in the most severe level.
He certainly terrorized people at the concert, and their loved ones at home. Does that necessarily mean, however, that he shared the common social or political aims that constitute “terrorism”?
Or, contrastingly, is Paddock a terrorist through-and-through who only escapes those labels by being a middle-aged, wealthy white man?