By: Keisha Thompson
Since the Las Vegas shooting there has been rumors of the word “terrorist” associated with Stephen Paddock. The Oxford Dictionary defines a terrorist as “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” In other words, anyone who terrorizes another person or group. It is safe to say that taking a semi-automatic weapon and firing it until it is empty is an excessive use of violence and intimidation toward a huge group of unsuspecting victims. Paddock not only terrorized the 22,000 people inside the music festival, but he also terrorized the other thousands of Las Vegas residents and guests near the festival. The people in attendance and in the surrounding areas did absolutely nothing to Mr. Paddock, yet he directed all of his rage towards them.
A terrorist essentially intimidates and scares the people around them, and for 12 minutes, Paddock terrorized everyone near the shooting site. Hotels and business were closed down for 5 hours, until police officially cleared the area. The victims spent a few hours not knowing if they were safe or if they would ever see their family members again. Paddock changed thousands of lives drastically in twelve minutes and their lives will never be the same again. The freedom to experience life by his victims is gone. They will never feel at ease in crowds and they will never go back to who they were before the shooting. Even in death, Stephen Paddock still terrorizes his surviving victims.
So why is Paddock not being called a terrorist? To call Paddock a terrorist would go against everything Trump is fighting for. It’s no secret that Trump believes that people from Arab speaking countries are terrorists. Trump has gone as far as to ban refugees, visitors and immigrants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which leads many to call it Trump’s Muslin ban. Trump believes that terrorists only come from Arabic countries without considering America’s own home grown terrorists. There are many Americans living right here in America who actually hate America, and like other outsiders are more than willing to attack America and its citizens.
It also has to do with America’s systemic racism. It is no secret how Trump feels about Arabic individuals who are Muslims. Trump believes they are terrorists and that Mexicans are rapists. The only people Trump whole heartedly supports are the white supremacist groups who hate all people of color, like President Trump himself. Trump cannot publicly call Paddock a terrorist because it goes against everything he stands for. Therefore, Paddock will inevitably be labeled as a mental case. There was an anonymous comment after the incident stating, “if a Muslims commits a crime, the whole religion is found guiltily, if a black man commits a crime, the whole black race is guilty, and if a white man commits a crime, he has to be mentally unstable.” Trump has already begun using terms to support this idea.
Some critics argue that Paddock is not a terrorist because he has no known political affiliations. Does it really matter that there is no political statement or letter stating, “I did this because of, or in response of?” One could argue that Paddock’s political statement is the substandard and deficient gun control laws which allowed him to acquire over thirty weapons in his collection.
Paddock’s rampage was an attempt to attack the Constitutional right of Freedom of Assembly- the right of all country music fans to gather and celebrate their favorite artists. Paddock’s aim was to instill fear into Americans and to have Americans question their every step as in other societies around the globe. Paddock wanted to disrupt the flow of American life by changing the way American operates.
If Paddock is not a terrorist, then who on earth will ever be classified as such?