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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Columbine is Terrorism

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In the post /11 era just about everyone in the world has heard the word terrorism. But what is terrorism exactly? By definition terrorism is to coerce by use of terror, but this definition is far too broad. Scare tactics are used all the time. Teachers often use them to encourage their students to study but this does not make them a terrorist. Terrorism is better defined as the illegal use of deadly force to instill fear in a population and its government to further political and social ideals. For an act to be considered terrorism it must meet all of these criteria. The shootings at Columbine High School are a good example of terrorism. The attack was very violent, was on a large scale, and had a social agenda.


Terrorism is intended to create fear in the targeted population. To do this terrorists use deadly force to attack their victims. In order to be considered terrorism an act must use a great deal of force. A suicide bomber is considered terrorism because the amount of destruction the bomb does. However a shooting is very rarely deemed terrorism because of the lack of extreme levels of force. Terrorists look to do the most damage possible to create the greatest amount of hysteria. Take the two attacks on the World Trade Center for example. “An explosion below the World Trade Center plaza in New York City on February 6, 1, killed six workers, and resulted in injuries to over 1,000 occupants as they made their way out of the affected buildings.” (Human). On September 11th, 001 two jumbo jets were flown into the towers creating huge explosions that ultimately collapsed the buildings. The attacks of /11 created a great deal of fear in our country as well as the rest of the world. While both of these attacks are certainly acts of terrorism the one using the greater force was by far the most effective.


The Columbine High School shootings were by far the most violent attack on school to date. On April 0, 1 at 110 a.m. two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold began bombing the school and firing upon the other students. This event fits the criteria of terrorism because of the violence and the amount of deadly force used in the attack. The two terrorists used many various weapons from guns, to knives, to propane tanks and pipe bombs. “Between 1114 a.m. and 11 a.m. Harris and Klebold leave their cars and walk into the school’s cafeteria, carrying two large duffel bags containing enough explosive power to kill the majority of the students who soon would be arriving for “A” lunch.” (Sheriff). The two students rigged explosive devices throughout the school. As well as the bombs placed in the cafeteria they threw explosives off the roof and had placed bombs in their cars as well. Thankfully the bombs placed in the cafeteria and in the cars failed to detonate. The two gunmen after planting the bombs went around the school freely opening fire on other students. The two terrorists from a variety of different guns fired all in all almost 00 rounds. After it was all over, 15 people had died including the terrorists themselves however, had the bombs all gone off the death toll would have surely been in the hundreds. This attack used a great deal of firepower and was intended to kill many more people than it did. This extreme use of deadly force qualifies this as a terrorist attack.


To create the hysteria terrorists desire terrorism must be on a large scale. Terrorism must be directed at a population, John F. Kennedy was assassinated on national television, and while very violent and tragic this was not an act of terrorism. The act was intended to kill one man not to frighten a nation. No single act fits the definition of terrorism better than the attacks of September 11th. The attacks killed thousands of innocent people on live television. The attacks weren’t directed at specific people inside the building, they were intended to create the most devastation possible. In order for an act to meet the criteria for terrorism it must be directed towards a whole population. This creates a feeling of I could be next in the public.


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In order to be considered terrorism an act has to be on a large scale. The Columbine shooting fits this criterion because it was an attack on the whole school. The two gunmen did not go after a small group of people rather they tried to kill hundreds of their fellow schoolmates. About an hour into the attack national media coverage had already begun.


By 11 a.m., local media had contacted dispatch asking for information about the shootings; by 114 a.m., the first national news organization had called. Soon news helicopters were flying over the school, and other media figures�including Jay Leno and Larry King�were calling to request interviews with responding officers and Sheriff Stone. (Sheriff)


This national media coverage coupled with the fear of such things happening in other schools created a national hysteria. The attacks created a sentiment of who’s next in the nation leading many to believe more attacks would follow by those trying to emulate Harris and Klebold. The large-scale hysteria caused by these attacks qualifies the event as a terrorist attack.


Finally to be terrorism the act must have a political or social agenda. Terrorism in the middle 100’s was directed to scare opponents and draw people to their side. Now it seems to further their objectives terrorist try to destroy those whom they deem as enemies. “In the 170s, David Son of Sam Berkowitz terrorized New York City by shooting young couples, but he was never considered a terrorist because the shootings were not committed in pursuit of a political goal.” (Stern). If we look at one of the biggest terrorist attacks against the United States the Oklahoma City bombings we see they had a political agenda. Both attacks were on symbols of American government and way of life by people who oppose our social and political views. So in order to be considered terrorism an act must have a social or political cause it is trying to accomplish through the use of terror.


In order for an act to be considered terrorism it must have a social or political agenda. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had a social agenda. They set off to school that morning to kill the people they claimed were conspiring against them. The two students felt themselves as outcasts in their school and decided to lash out at the population. Harris wrote in one journal that their actions were “a two man war against everyone else.” (Sheriff). The two gunmen were striking back against those who ridiculed them and people like them. Many reports stated the two walked the school searching for those they deemed as “jocks” and “preps.” One student named Cassie Bernall was shot and killed after answering yes when the gunmen asked if she believed in God. The two terrorists while attempting to kill as many people as possible targeted social groups they did not like. This social agenda deems this act as terrorism.


Finally, as a country we have a stereotype about what a terrorist attack is. We tend to think that a terrorist attack is something done by an Arab person against our country, but this is not true. The Columbine attacks fit all the criteria for a terrorist attack. The attack was violent and used deadly force, the act was on a large scale, and the terrorists had a social agenda for their actions. Therefore the shootings at Columbine on April 0th, 1 were in fact a terrorist attack





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