America is a Nation of Terror

Terrorism can be defined as: Wait, sorry, no it’s not. It’s uhh… Oh wait, maybe actually it’s- Oh wait. No, actually, it’s- Huh. Turns out there are a lot of different definitions of terrorism. In fact, terrorism expert Walter Laqueur counted over 100 different definitions in his research and he concluded that: What’s that about? “One way of trying to… undermine independent thoughts and the… creative approaches to the world is to simply destroy the way of talking about things.” “So the words literally almost have no meaning.” Thanks, Noam Chomsky. So, it turns out that terrorism is one of these words that means whatever we want it to mean whenever we say it. Within the narrow discourse of the United States of American political spectrum, it means very specifically: In other words, America is never going to label anything as terrorism if it’s reminiscent of the violence that’s regularly perpetrated by the American state and the white male class that drives it. You see, any time an act of violence occurs, our society automatically runs it through a sort of a filter and if it hits too close to home for white America, it will not be labeled as terrorism. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some examples. First, to calibrate, we’ll start with an easy one. Something that’s clearly an act of terrorism: So these guys were brown-skinned muslims, they murdered a lot of white people, and they had a very clear anti-U.S. political statement. Definitely terrorism. Okay, let’s look at another politically motivated terrorist: Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. Even though he’s white, he did kill a lot of white people and he clearly opposed the United States government. So he is defined as a terrorist. Now let’s take a look at the Fort Hood mass shooting. In 2009, American army officer Nidal Hasan went on a shooting spree. He killed 13 people and wounded 30 others. Although he had developed extremist islamic views, he left no clear manifesto and no statement of political intent. So even though he left no clear manifesto behind, he’s still labeled as a terrorist because he’s a brown muslim, and he killed a lot of white people. Here’s another shooter: Dylann Roof. In 2015, he entered a church in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina and killed 9 people in cold blood. He left behind a lengthy and clearly defined political manifesto explaining that his attack was a political act in support of white nationalism. Like Ted Kaczynski, Roof was white; Like Ted Kaczynski, Roof had a very clear political motive and like Ted Kaczynski, Roof killed a lot of people. So, why isn’t Dylann Roof considered a terrorist? Because while Ted Kaczynski aligned himself against the United States government and the way our society functions, Dylann Roof’s violence mirrors the violence inherent in America’s cultural and political structures. Dylann Roof committed violence against non-whites in the name of white supremacy. American society was built on violence against non-whites and white supremacy is inherent in our power structures. From slavery to the Civil Rights counter-movement, to rampant police violence, to foreign wars in non-white countries, we as a society have always inflicted violence against people of color. If America were to admit that Dylann Roof’s brand of violence were terrorism, then we’d de facto be admitting that we have been committing acts of terrorism on a massive scale since 1776. Anytime combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan used suicide bombs and IEDs, they are invariably labeled as terrorists. But when American soldiers mass murdered hundreds of civilians in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam or 16 civilians in the Kandahar massacre in Afghanistan or whenever we drop drone strikes on innocent civilians or torture and humiliate prisoners, it’s never called terrorism. But what’s the difference, really? How was a drone strike any less terrifying than an improvised explosive device? It’s certainly politically motivated. After the recent bombings in Austin, we’re once again engaging in massive online flame wars about whether another white mass murderer should be labeled as a terrorist or not. The mainstream media says the jury is still out because we don’t know if the bombings were politically motivated or not. Now, Condit did have a blog in which he espoused far-right political views, but those don’t count, apparently because they weren’t clearly linked to the bombings and he never made a clear political statement. Never mind that Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, also never made a clear political statement and his extreme views were never clearly linked to the shooting. Yes, Hasan did allegedly shout Allah Akbar while he was carrying out his shooting, but he didn’t leave behind any kind of clear political manifesto. He just never clearly linked the shooting to any kind of political motivation. The key difference then, between Nidal Hasan and Mark Anthony Condit is that Hassan was a brown man who happened to have extremist muslim views while Condit was a white man who happened have extremist reactionary views. And America is a white, reactionary society. The police say that Condit targeted a specific woman, so it can’t be considered terrorism. Well, of course violence against a woman can’t be labeled as terrorism, even if he was trying to terrorize her with his multiple bombings because white male society in America is in part defined by the violence we sustain against women. If we were to admit that using acts of violence to destroy and manipulate women constituted terrorism then, again, we’d de facto be pleading guilty to terrorism ourselves. So what we’re left with ultimately in America is an incredibly convoluted definition of terrorism in mainstream society. Terrorism is an act of violence with clear political motivation, unless it’s carried out by U.S. soldiers, because the United States can’t possibly commit acts of terrorism. Terrorism can be defined as an act of violence with a very vague and undefined political motivation, as long as it’s carried out by a non-white person. It is possible for white people to commit acts of terrorism, as long as they’re very clearly opposed to the United States government and United States social structures. Hey, you know what? Screw that. The bald, naked, ugly truth of the matter is that the United States of America is a nation of terrorism. Black men in America live in constant terror of being murdered by the police or wrongly incarcerated by our criminal justice system; brown people throughout the Middle East live in constant terror of being obliterated by drone strikes or becoming the next targets of American imperialist invasion; the LGBTQ community lives in constant terror of being assaulted and murdered; women live in constant terror of becoming victims of sexual violence; immigrants live in constant terror of having their lives ripped away from them and being incarcerated indefinitely without trial and of course, we all live with that lingering, constant terror of being the next victim of an angry white man with a gun or a bomb, every time we go to school or a movie theater or now, apparently, even when we just go and check our mail. Here’s my definition of terrorism. It’s simple: By that definition, it’s irrefutable: the United States of America is a terrorist nation, we have to call it what it is, we have to confront it directly. And the only way to put a stop to the terror is to overthrow the power structures of capitalism and patriarchy and white supremacy that keep us all living in fear. I’m Emerican Johnson, this is Non-Compete. Thank you so much for watching. Back to you, Noam Chomsky. “First of all, when we use the term ‘terror’ we have to recognize that, like most terms of political discourse, has two meanings.” “There’s a literal meaning, and there’s the doctrinal meaning.” “Now, in the literal meaning, ‘terror’ is what’s described in U.S. code of laws: It’s the threat or use of violence to intimidate typically against civilians, to intimidate populations for political, ideological and other ends.” “Well, nobody can use that definition.” “Because if you use that definition, it follows instantly that the United States is a leading terror state, that Britain’s another leading terrorist state and so on.” “So, the literal definition, the one that’s in the US code of laws, is unusable.” If you enjoyed this video, I hope you will give it a subscribe and a thumbs up. If you think that I am a snowflake, then give it a thumbs down. You can check out my blog at I put articles up just about every week, and I have a new video every Friday, so I’ll see you next week.


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