By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – I’ve been hearing some voices referring to the horrendous massacre in Charleston, South Carolina as an act of “terrorism,” and I think it fits just fine.

Some think terrorism only applies to violence with a political or religious motivation, and it is often used in that context. But Dictionary.com defines it as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce,” often but not exclusively for political purposes.

We’ll soon find out if this was in fact the disgusting act of racism it appears to be. In the meantime, as an act of violence directed at a specific group, it fits the definition of terrorism as much as the slaughter of children in a synagogue or, for that matter, 9/11.

I don’t think we use the word terrorism widely enough.

What would you call the chronic violence and intimidation of the drug gang the feds busted in Boston Thursday if not a siege of domestic terrorism? Whitey Bulger was a terrorist, every bit as much as the Marathon bombers.

This isn’t just a semantic exercise.

The criminal justice system often struggles to get the funding it needs. But since 9/11, we’ve been shoveling money into the war on terror, often without question or discretion.

At times in the past when certain Boston neighborhoods have been victimized by especially bad outbreaks of terror, some have called for the military to get involved, and I see no reason why they shouldn’t be in dire circumstances.

As we’ve seen so often in recent years, terrorism is especially indiscriminate violence, targeting African-Americans or Jews in some cases, but for the most part just looking to kill randomly, in order to terrify all the more.

So let’s call this kind of thing what it is, and put the muscle behind fighting it that terrorism draws.

We owe the Charleston victims and all that preceded them nothing less.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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