Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Scary Looking

I confess, I wasn't terrified. I was just terribly sad. I thought about the line from "Iron Man 3":  Some people call me a terrorist. I prefer to think of myself as a teacher." That guy was a comic book villain, The Mandarin. As it turned out, that scary voice and visage was (spoiler alert) just a facade. The real bad guy had generated this image of how villains ought to appear, and that was what he used to instill fear in the world at large. What does evil look like? For a while, our country united behind the vile countenance of Osama bin Laden. The scariest part of that man's demeanor may have been his propensity for posing with automatic weapons, or wearing camouflage jackets. Maybe it was his beard, but if that were the litmus test, then how should we feel about Abraham Lincoln? Perhaps the defining feature was the headgear: turban versus stovepipe hat. What does a terrorist look like? Facial hair? Skin tone? Timothy McVeigh looked an awful lot like the guys with whom I went to high school. He was a terrorist. So were the Tsarnev brothers. I may have flipped past their photos in my senior yearbook, once upon a time. James Holmes? The jury is, at this point, still out. When it comes to terrorism, it doesn't seem to matter as much about body count or appearance, but intent. Webster's online version defines a terrorism as "the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal." 
Now I feel compelled to examine just what "a political goal" might be. I think we can be pretty sure that Osama and Timothy fit into that category, and even though Temarian and Dzhokhar may have been involved in one of the most unfortunate instances of an older brother daring his younger sibling to do something really stupid, they easily fall into the terrorist bin as well. Stirring that political pot with plastic explosives. Which leaves us with the potentially insane Mister Holmes. Was there any kind of political bend to his twisted mind? 
What about Dylann Roof? He looks like the freshman we used to make fun of, but like we learned from Pearl Jam, don't mess with Dylann. No beard on this guy. Was his attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church an act of terrorism? Police have said they believe it was a hate crime. At this point, I guess it doesn't matter if he was acting out his vicious agenda based on political and sociological ideas that found their way into his head over the years. Hate crime. I don't think there is a court in the world that would disagree with that assessment. Most crime involves a little hate. This one had it by the bushel. Terrorist? Hate crime? Murder. That's scary enough for me, thanks. An act of intolerable sadness. Hate crime? You bet I do. It's terrifying. 

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