Actually, it was not terrorism. It was random violence. He was not trying to terrorize people into doing or not doing something. He did not have a cause. It was an apolitical act. Terrorism is a brutal way of making a statement, which he does not seem to be doing. Whites have been terrorists. Abortion clinic bombings are a perfect example. The media should call that what it is. However, this does not fit the definition.
“Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety ofnon-combatants (civilians). Some definitions now include acts of unlawful violence and war. The use of similar tactics by criminal organizations for protection rackets or to enforce a code of silence is usually not labeled terrorism though these same actions may be labeled terrorism when done by a politically motivated group.”
It’s too soon to know what this man’s motivation was. But this was an unlawful, violent crime against civilians intended to create fear. This was pretty systematic, and clearly intended to provoke terror. We’ll know more in the coming weeks, but I think that colloquially, this can be considered terrorism - it certainly would be if this guy were not white.
It probably would be because of racism, but that would be inaccurate. ‘Other people do it’ is not a reason to misuse language. I plan to call out the next instance of verbal or written ableism I find. If I assert that words have power in one situation, I am a hypocrite unless I agree they do in another. The social justice idea that words have meaning is important here, too. There may be a variety of definitions, but most people seem to think of terrorism as having political goals. He has made no announcements, offered no motives, proffered no manifesto. The fear is incidental. If anything, his identification with the Joker suggests a completely nihilistic outlook. He was not coercing anyone to any act. “He just wanted to watch the world burn.” If he had decided to randomly kill one person, would it be terrorism? The fear seems incidental here. In terrorism, it is the goal. I will agree with you if he later states that he did this because he hates pro-choicers, pro-lifers, women, minorities, the gay community, etc.