What is the Difference Between an Act of Violence and Terrorism?

Wikipedia/Boston Bombing

After a bombing such as what happened in New York City last week, journalists and politicians are faced with confronting what the difference is, if any, between an act of violence and terrorism.

MSNBC published a similar article also asking this same question days after the Boston Marathon bombing, but only asking it not offering up any answers.

NBC News published an article recently highlighting the difference in responses between both presidential candidates. NBC wrote:



After waiting on his plane for about 13 minutes, he [Trump] took the stage and reported what no news outlets or law enforcement had yet: that a “bomb” went off in New York City.

They noted that Trump was quick to use the term “bomb” even before all the information was in about the incident while NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was “intentional” but not yet linked to terrorism. This is a stark contrast between the two politicians whereas the term “bomb” is often associated with the term “terrorism,” while “intentional” is sometimes short for “intentional act of violence.”

Though Clinton also initially called it a “bombing,” and edited out as reported by NBC, she would later classify it as an “apparent terrorist attack.”

This attack has led to the two candidates clashing over political correctness about how sensitive situations regarding immigrants, attacks, Islam, terrorism and violence are labeled, as reported by the New York Times.

Political Correctness is always a conversation that emerges after every attack that has happened since 9/11. NPR reported the same issues after the attacks in Charleston, SC and Chattanooga, TN.

NPR quoted Robin Lakoff, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the language of war.

The word terrorism is a tricky one. That’s because “terrorism itself, whatever that is” lives in a place between crime and war. Although acts of war, acts of crime and acts of terror can look very much alike on the surface, they have very different motives, very different reasons for being, and I think that’s why people are confused. They look alike on the surface; they’re different underneath.

NPR also reported:

Navin Bapat, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who studies terrorist campaigns, says that at least among political scientists there is a well-worn definition for terrorism: an attack against a “non-combatant target” for political purposes that is intended to affect an audience larger than the immediate victims.

09/20/2016 2:20 PM by Joshua C.

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