“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” (Inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933.) Fear has a name today- it is known as “terrorism”. Terrorism is foreign; terrorism is sensational; terrorism can be right next-door in our domestic backyard, from our own people in quiet, deliberate, horrifying acts of fear inducing tactics. According to the USA PATRIOT Act, domestic terrorism is defined as, “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercions; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping: and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” Terrorism is not just a word to frighten us into submission- it is real; it is lethal; and it is domestic and homegrown.
Terrorist attacks date back to 1910 when the Los Angeles Times was bombed on May 1st. Acts of domestic terrorism are not new. These crimes of violence and fear have not just materialized in the 1990s and twenty-first century. However, terrorists today are bolder in their activities and follow-through is more frequent. Popular opinions against such issues as abortion, gay marriage, and gun control echo the sounds of activism violent enough to become domestic terrorism. In a time of veterans returning from over a decade of wars, our people- our nation- are looking for answers to serious questions with a violent undercurrent that threatens our freedoms of choices and point-of-views if and when this violence breaks loose under unlawful and fear inducing acts in the name of liberation and defense.
We are afraid of terrorism; we are afraid of fear. As long as we are afraid, we are in danger of losing our personal and civil liberties in the name of eliminating our fears. The wars we have fought in the name of freedom do not compare to the war we are waging against terror- against fear. The idea of fighting back against terrorism began with the understanding that these acts of terrorism are from “outside” of our society and are about those against the United States. There are more U.S. based domestic terrorist groups than foreign organizations. The definitive meaning of terrorism must be understood and adhered to in order to prevent our war of fear from eliminating our diverse voices in a culture increasingly afraid of differences. Protecting ourselves from terror is, necessarily, protecting our freedom- not protecting our own points of view.
Our nation is a nation of strength and pride. From the American Revolution to the Gulf War, we have stood for our values and our individual rights. A dimmer light shines when the clouds of fear gather. Terrorism must not win; fear must not win- we cannot afford a war of either winning answer without losing our individual rights and cultural diversity. Let freedom win and let us walk unafraid.
-Kimberly A. McKenzie