In the wake of pilot Joseph Stack’s attack, onlookers expressed relief that it was not an incident of Islamist terrorism.
If Stack’s attack fits the four-pronged criteria of terrorism — a criminal act against a civilian population with intent to cause fear, death, or injury, and as a means to influence government and/or politics — but is dismissed empathetically as an act by one of our own, does this actually mean “being Muslim” is one of the understood, but unstated, criteria in the definition of terrorism?
Will this characterization induce other Americans with personal grievances to lash out at the federal government? Will it continue to muddy the issue of terrorism as representative of the Islamic faith tradition, which obviously does not corner the market on politically motivated violence?
Stack’s attack will now undoubtedly serve as a litmus test for whether American media coverage and government verbiage will represent events through a politically and emotionally charged lens or via a precise and more objective account.
Reem Elghonimi, board member, Council on American-Islamic Relations DFW, Garland