Yesterday, the New York Daily News put up a controversial cover that I thought was pretty good. Today, they are out with another cover that, I’ve got to say, is a bit much for me. It calls the alleged perpetrator of Wednesday’s massacre, Syed Farook, a terrorist (accurate!) and Robert Dear, Dylan Roof, Adam Lanza, and James Holmes terrorists (also accurate depending on your specific definition!), but then in the right hand corner it labels Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, a terrorist.
Now, look, I’m not fan of the NRA, but they’re not a terrorist organization and I don’t think that term should be bandied about all willy-nilly. From 2001 to 2003, this shit happened all the time. Terrorists! Terrorists! Terrorist! Terrorists! It is not helpful. It stirs frenzy and panic in a population of people primed for frenzy and panic. We should use that term when it really makes sense, not just for political groups we disagree with.
But, on the other hand, just today Senate Republicans at the NRA’s behest voted to kill a law that would make it harder for terrorists, felons, and mentally ill people to buy guns. It’s also worth noting that most gun owners don’t even support the NRA’s radical agenda. So it’s not like I’m saying the NRA is a bunch of peachy keen cats deserving of sainthood or anything.
Relatedly, my colleague Julia Laurie spoke to a number of national news organizations about how and when they decide to call a “killer” a “terrorist.” Give it a read. Fascinating stuff.