Nov. 16 marks the 320th day of the year, by which time there have been over 300 mass shootings, mass bombings, and stabbings in the United States, in 2018, alone.
The most recent acts of terrorism include the spate of pipe bomb packages sent to anti-Trump advocates beginning on Oct. 22 and continuing until the 26, the shooting in a Louisville Kroger on Oct. 25, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on Oct. 27, the Florida yoga studio shooting on Nov. 3, and the shooting in the Borderline country music bar in California on Nov. 7. The terrorists behind these attacks have something in common: they are all American.
When asked what terrorism really is, students responded that “terrorism is when someone chooses to deliberately harm others to instill fear in the masses” (Margaret Berding ‘19) and that it “is the result of an accumulation of hate [...] projected into a large scale event” (Ainsley Worthley ‘19). Annalese Cahill ‘19 says that terrorism is an “extremist interpretation of a religion or idea that one chooses to use as an excuse to cause fear and violence among a targeted group of people,” and Kylie Wolever ‘20 adds something similar: “modern day terrorism is violent and unnecessary action taken for political and personal aims, [...] people acting on beliefs that are mostly misinterpreted”.
Most of the aforementioned recent attacks were, in fact, targeted against a specific group of people -- the pipe bombs against prominent Democrats, the Louisville shooting against black people, the Pittsburgh shooting against the Jewish community, and the shooting in the yoga studio against women. Most unpredictable, though, was the California shooting, against no one type of person in particular, but supposedly a result of the mental instability of gunman Ian D. Long, 28. Except for Long, these other terrorists showed signs beforehand of prejudiced, extremist views, whether through websites advocating for free speech like Gab, histories of domestic violence, battery charges against specific groups of people, or through social media websites such as Twitter.
Although there is obviously not one set solution to terrorism, students at Saint Ursula Academy have some ideas on what can be done to help. Sophie Bernloehr ‘19 suggests “gun control, [...] and globally, putting less attention on the terrorists and using less violence to fuel their hate”. Eva Tombragel ‘19 facetiously recommends “building a wall around the whole country and then putting a dome over it so that no one can get in,” but on a more serious note, Sophia Dugan ‘19 believes that “people don’t realize how much of an impact education can have [and that] teaching children at a young age what is right can really go a long way”.
As defined by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, terrorism is "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”. With these motivational ramifications, the recent outbreaks of violence can be definitively labeled as terrorism, and nothing less.
Terrorism is coming from different places, for different people, and at unpredictable times, and there have been almost as many attacks as days in the year. Several marches around the country have been held on the subject, and more people, especially some of those who ran in the recent midterm elections, are voicing their opinions on how to control violence in the country. Although people are growing more attentive to the issue, awareness and prevention aren’t the same pill.