On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Khalid Masood killed four pedestrians and injured about 50 other innocent people when he drove a Hyundai SUV into a crowd on Westminster Bridge in London.
Masood was a radicalized Islamist. London police believe he acted alone after being inspired by terrorist propaganda. His mission, in ramming that car into a crowd of people, was to hurt as many as possible. He was called a terrorist.
On Saturday, August 12, 2017, a man drove to a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. There, he drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring 19 people and murdering Heather Heyer.
The suspect, James Alex Fields Jr., is a white supremacist neo-Nazi. What little we know about him from reports so far indicates he developed a love of Adolf Hitler and of the Nazi movement at a young age. His mission in allegedly driving that car into a crowd of civilians was to hurt as many people as possible. Some are reluctant to call him a terrorist.
What happened in Charlottesville over the weekend was an act of terrorism, full stop. Terrorism does not have to be linked to a mass movement, in the way we link Islamic radicals to ISIS. It does not have to do with the color of the terrorists’ skin, the “ism” he believes in, or the way in which he hurts people.
Terrorism, defined, is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
Conservatives, who claim to have an unwavering dedication to what is true, should be the first to speak truths loudly and clearly. Our justice system will find Fields guilty or not guilty based on the evidence gathered against him and the testimony of those who witnessed the attack.
“The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred they propagate,” Sen. Cruz wrote on Facebook. “Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.”
President Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” but regrettably, and frankly shamefully, he did not call this an evil act of terrorism. The president frequently names “radical Islamic terrorism” by name. He must do the same for white supremacist terrorism.
The truth is that the evidence suggests this was terror, and we should name it as such.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to remove an erroneous reference to the suspect’s home state and to correct a grammatical error.