Bullets were catapulted into the crowd, with the intention of taking lives. Innocent people who were just pawns in the bigger game were running, cowering, covering their heads. Anguished screams resounded through the night air. Empty beer bottles and blood were staining the carpet on the floor. These were the events that unfolded last night at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.
A 64-year-old man opened gunfire on 22,000 attendees of Route 91 Harvest country music festival from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. So far, 58 people have died as primary and secondary results of his terror attack, with approximately 500 people being injured and countless thousands of people will hold the events they saw unfold in a heavy place in their heart. This terror attack was certainly one of the most devastating in U.S. history and with the death rate surpassing that of the Orlando mass shooting, it is the worst mass shooting ever recorded in U.S. history.
Nobody can really say what drives a person to kill, and certainly not in this case.
The Islamic State have claimed to be behind the attack, saying that Stephen Paddock (the terrorist) converted to Islam some months ago. However, they gave no evidence for this and have in the past made unsubstantiated claims. Police sheriffs are also saying that Paddock may have a history of mental illnesses, but none of this is solid evidence.
The definition of ‘terrorism’ according to Merriam-Webster is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion, with the definition of a ‘terrorist’ being an advocate or practitioner of terrorism as a means of coercion.
Despite all the facts, media outlets are refusing to call Stephen Paddock a terrorist and it seems that term is reserved only for people of color. There is a thin line between a terrorist and a mass shooter and sometimes that line is completely blurred, meaning that a person is both at once. In this circumstance, I think that is the case. He was a mass shooter, but it is also crucial that we acknowledge that he instill terror that will last a lifetime into 22,000 attendees. Multiple guns were found by the police upon entering his hotel room, which I think further proves my point that he wanted to terrorize innocent people., thus making him a terrorist.
Society is often only able to label people of color as terrorists, with white people being referred to as ‘lone-wolves,’ ‘mass shooters’ and in the words of President Donald Trump himself, ‘very fine people.’
Society often forgets that terrorism isn’t only reserved for people of color; white people can be terrorists too. Stephen Paddock was a terrorist and should be labeled as such.
Why should he be able to shirk the guilt of being labeled as a terrorist when so many people of color can’t? My thoughts are with everyone affected and may those killed rest in peace.