The deadliest massacre in U.S. history took place this past Sunday, Oct. 1.
This is the third time a mass shooting has been labeled as such in the past 10 years, and the second time in 16 months.
64-year-old white male Stephen Paddock opened fire at a late night country concert, proving fatal for 59 people as of Oct. 2, and injuring over 500. Paddock took his own life after the massacre.
Paddock, under Nevada Law NRS 202.4415, is classified as a domestic terrorist. Still, few headlines cover that angle, rather they refer to him as a “lone wolf” and “retiree.”
In fact, The Rolling Stone and The Intercept are some of the few sources that have outwardly referenced Paddock as a domestic terrorist. Their articles addressing this issue mention white privilege and the need to politicize this shooting.
For example, The Washington Post published an article titled “Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, enjoyed gambling, country music; lived quite life before massacre” and twitter users were outraged.
Many are comparing the language used about Paddock to the language used to describe people of color who were aggressors in incidents in the past and find that the media often portrays them differently.
User StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) tweeted “White Privilege = white man commits the largest mass shooting & is fondly remembered as a country music fan.”
Even celebrities have chimed in, emphasizing that Paddock should be viewed as nothing less than a terrorist.
James Charles (@jamescharles) tweeted in response to the headline, “Las Vegas terrorist Stephen Paddock enjoyed terrorism before he shot and killed 50 innocent people & injured 200 in terrorist attack.”
The Washington Post article whose headline described paddock as a lover of country music is no longer found on the Washington Post’s website, but other sources, like Rolling Stone, Chicago Tribune, and The Inquirer also published said article.
The Islamic State group, IS, has claimed affiliation with the attack, but officials state they have found zero evidence to support the claim.
Whether officials prove this or not, Paddock still caused harm to hundreds of people, and should not be portrayed in a sympathetic light by any media.
In a nation where race has become a prominent conversation in almost all aspects of life, it’s not surprising that the public is questioning the way Paddock is being reported on. Especially when one takes into account how non-criminal people of color have been referenced in the past.
Whether he liked country music, or gambled, or had two planes, or had any other hobbies, does not change the fact that he is a domestic terrorist.
His skin color does not change this fact either.
His actions are the only thing that can truly make him a terrorist.
Despite not knowing his exact motives, we can assume his attack was premeditated. He had 16 guns with him, and 18 more at his home, along with explosives and thousands of rounds of ammo. Police also found ammonium nitrate in his car.
Paddock caused terror, not only to those at the event, but to the state of Nevada and the nation as a whole.
To call this attack anything but domestic terrorism would be diminishing the gravity of this atrocious event and the impact that it has on our nation.
We cannot stay true to our stance against terrorism without condemning this crime and all others like it.
If we can’t even call it by its name, we can never truly begin to fight against terrorism and lessen its impact within our nation, much less globally.
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