A terror attack on one American is a terror attack on all Americans

Published 8:32 pm Sunday, October 8, 2017

As our jaws drop from shock when reading about the latest terror attack, we cringe as we prepare to learn who the killer was. Who was the Las Vegas shooter? Was he a Muslim fundamentalist? Was he right-wing? Was he left-wing?  What was his race? Was a woman helping him?  We then cringe as some political group tries to use the terror attack to go after the supporters of another viewpoint, instead of doing what we should be doing: standing together. The reality is that a terror attack on one American is a terror attack on all Americans.

In July of 2016, I wrote a column about the shooting of several Dallas police officers by a sniper, who was African-American. I pointed out that the shooter killed several brave officers, while firing into a crowd of Black Lives Matter marchers, wounding several of them.  Moments earlier, these peaceful marchers had been taking selfies with officers, who were not only posing but protecting them — a few minutes later, giving their lives for these BLM members.

I received plenty of email, denouncing my moderate position; they claimed I lied, and that the shooter was BLM, and that this was black terrorism, ignoring the facts I pointed out in this article. Blacks and whites were marching in the BLM rally in Dallas, and showing respect to the officers. And that’s what triggered the shooter, who expressed disgust with BLM, to act.

One can hardly forget the white South Carolina shooter who killed a preacher and several African American worshipers at a church in Charleston. It was easy to blame anyone with a conservative viewpoint for the shooting.  Someone tried a revenge shooting in Tennessee — at a biracial church, I might add.

Remember how earlier this year, a self-described volunteer of the Bernie Sanders campaign shot several Republican congressmen and security officials and aides at a Congressional Baseball practice? Of course, people would try to use this as an opportunity to blame Sanders and his supporters for the incident, ignoring Sanders’ condemnation of this terrorist.

My students and I research lone wolf terrorism in the U.S.A..  We find no shortage of right-wing terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists, and even a few nihilistic Unabomber types.  But all have one common denominator: they’ve killed, or tried very hard to kill, Americans.

When a terrorist detonates a bomb, or pulls the trigger, or gets behind the wheel of the car, they don’t care about your ideology, your race, your gender, your age, or anything else. They want you dead. Period. End of story, or your life, if you’re unfortunately at the wrong place and time.

And, in nearly every case, they want something else. They want to tear this country apart. Whatever their warped viewpoint, they want you scared, mad and turning on your fellow American. They want the movie “The Purge.” The Charleston shooter wanted a race war, as much as the Dallas sniper did.  Muslim terrorists would like non-Muslims to attack those of Islamic faith in retaliation, triggering a religious war. Killers of Muslims want revenge too.

When President Ronald Reagan told us not to give in to terrorist demands, it means don’t do what the terrorists want you to do.  If you want to defeat terrorists, here’s what you need to do. Improve security, but also reach out to others. Find ways to come together, on common ground. Don’t turn on each other, which is exactly what the terrorists want (it’s in the definition).

If you want them turning in their graves, turn toward each other, not against each other.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.  He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.