The Las Vegas Attack: It’s Only Terrorism if You’re not from Here

David Becker – Getty Images.

You were likely met by horrific news getting out of bed this morning of an horrendous attack last night in Las Vegas, when concert goers attending an outdoor festival were shot from a sniper who stood from the 29th floor of a hotel window, killing (at last report) 59 people and injuring more than 500. It’s the worst mass shooting in American history, which given its lenghty history of gun-related violence, is quite a thing.

You may also have been greeted by news reports about this mind-boggling event – in particular the way it’s been framed as a shooting. Undeniably it’s a shooting, but it’s interesting how little the word “terrorism” has been used so far in context with reporting the incident.

The suspect, Stephen Paddock, was a 59 white male from Mesquite, Nevada.

Meanwhile I happened to notice this other incident on twitter this morning:

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The stabbing, which occurred in Marseille, was also horrific – in this case it resulted in 2 victims, not 600. And yet, it was defined as “likely terrorist plot.” The suspect in this case was of Arabic descent.

Even closer to my own home, on Sunday night a man stabbed and then mowed down a police officer with his vehicle as well as four other bystanders. The suspect, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, was of Somali origin. In the end, Sharif was charged with attempted murder. Nonetheless:

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So the day after the Vegas shooting, in what was in retrospect, an attack that by any sensible definition, was an act of terrorism designed to kill as many people as Mr. Paddock thought possible, we are greeted with headlines like this:

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The message is clear – if you’re not from another country, or of a certain race, terrorism simply doesn’t apply.