The professional media’s coverage of terrorist attacks has been called into question by US President Donald Trump as part of an effort to justify and deflect criticism away from his Executive Order banning travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries. Although traditional sources of news have serious issues, which demonstrated by Fake News, and often fail to serve their communities in a constructive manner, they tend to be particularly attentive when it comes to covering violent crime, especially terrorism. Coverage of these events, after all, tends to result in higher ratings and profits. If anything, factors like search engine results and viewer apathy account for a lack of attention to these news story. Trump’s list of” 78 under-reported terrorist attacks offered professional media outlets an opportunity to quickly disarm the President’s attacks, but he has demonstrated a need to discuss how terrorism is defined.
Recognizing that terrorism is a form of violent crime reminds the world that the outcome of murder is the same no matter the motivation. Understanding why perpetrators of violent crimes ultimately choose to engage in their attacks can help people cope with the consequences of violence and help authorities decrypt the patterns they need to prevent future violent crimes. Understanding why terrorism exists begins with defining what qualifies as terrorism. Politicians often skirt around the distinction, because they need to leave room to protect rebellious groups across the world that espouse useful ideologies, yet engage in questionable activities. Unfortunately, terrorists use the loose definition of terrorism to push the perception that their cause is one of freedom fighters, which helps them gain support for their activities and recruit reluctant individuals into their groups.
People naturally respond to adverse conditions with violence; therefore, the ability to justify terrorist activities and recruit new members helps terrorists maintain the vicious cycle that allows terrorism to continue to exist. Where a political faction or minority can simply be ignored, a series of violent acts can quickly draw a great amount of attention to a particular group’s agenda. Violence gives individuals a way to express their views, forces others to respond to them and gives their grievances publicity. In turn, they use any and all opportunities to claim that peaceful conflict resolution is futile, leaving violence as the only viable option. This means terrorists coerce each other into seeing their terrorist activities as necessities, and a lack of action as inexcusable, which makes it very difficult for terrorists to see beyond their violent ways.
Terrorism exists because people believe their violent actions are the only means of achieving their goals. Most people who become terrorists do so not because they see themselves as evil, but because they see their targets as oppressive, complacent, or evil. Unfortunately, terrorists are easily created when the powerful intentionally, or unintentionally, disenfranchise a group(s) while terrorist supporters and sympathizers are created when people are polarized to the point they decide the terrorists more closely represent their interests. Often called a “Muslim Ban,” President Trump Executive Order targeting predominately Muslim countries is a symbol of Western oppression and bigotry toward the Middle East, which has a traumatic history of Western exploitation and oppression under Western-supported dictators. To address terrorism, without appeasing terrorists, it is necessary to address the grievances and concerns of groups on the verge of terrorist activities. Isolating the populations targeted by terrorist groups is, therefore, counterproductive.
Terrorism is violence intentionally directed at a civilian population. It is violence that has been designed by individuals, groups of individuals, or governments to force a particular ideology or policy onto the targeted population. Muslim extremists from the Middle East are not the only terrorist threats in the world. The KKK, for example, was a highly popular Christian terrorist group, which has allegedly renounced its violent ways to becomes a political group, that targeted blacks, Catholics, and other groups they sought to eliminate. The Mexican Drug Cartels, which have strong Christian identities, are terrorists groups that have regularly used violence against civilian populations to cultivate opposition to the government’s crackdown on their illicit activities. With the Mexico’s War on the Drug Cartel claiming more than 150,000 lives since 2007, Cartel terrorism is actually a far more imminent threat to the US than that of Middle Eastern terrorism.
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