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  • Hazel Montgomery-Walsh

9/11 Again: Terrorism In Review

From right to left: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Diana Taylor, Nancy Pelosi, and Charles Schumer honoring the event of 9/11 in a 2022 ceremony.

Yesterday was 9/11, and I decided to go on a run in a local State Park. During my run, I passed about three different huge cookout groups celebrating patriotism in America. Celebrating the heroes who risk their lives for American security. It was a pleasant sight of what a peaceful day in 2022 looks like in a suburban, privileged area. As usual, though, as this tends to happen whenever I go for long runs, it made me think. A lot.

Terrorism has been a global and U.S. phenomenon for centuries. Depending on the historical lens used, one may argue that terrorism began in the U.S. the first time land was forcibly stolen from the indigenous people, or when the first enslaved person was forced into America in 1619. This theme of terrorism continues into what mainstream history focuses on as terrorism, including bombings in 1886 in Haymarket square during a labor union rally; 1910 at the Los Angeles Times Building; 1917 when a bomb killed nine police officers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 1919, when bombs went off in eight U.S. cities; 1920, when a wagon exploded on Wall Street; 1963 the bombing at a Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama; September 11th, 2001; when a terrorist attack left 3,000 people dead and more with life-long trauma.

When I got home from my run, I did a quick search of “Fox News Terrorism” to scan articles posted by Fox News, the widely-known, right-leaning news broadcast, on the keyword “Terrorism.” I saw what I was expecting - many articles regarding 9/11 and what it means to Americans today. But what I wanted to know is, what else have they labelled as terrorism? I belong to the generation that was not alive during the attack on September 11th, 2001, so perhaps it was my naivety that allowed me to question why I didn’t see more patriotism, anger, pain, frustration, and unity surrounded by the terrorist attacks that I have witnessed in my lifetime–particularly mass shootings. The buzzwords that I found on the Fox News website when I searched “Terrorism” were: Syria, 9/11, Afghanistan, ISIS, Taliban, border patrol, and a few that connected to Americans involved with ISIS or to President Biden. I kept scrolling back until I reached the dates of July 4th, May 14th, or May 24th 2020.

July 4th, when seven were killed and four injured in a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

May 14th, when 10 people were shot and killed in a racially-motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York.

May 24th, when 19 children and two teachers were murdered in a mass shooting in their school in Uvalde, Texas.

Victims of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th, 2022.

On May 24th, Fox News’ only publication under the Terrorism column was something about the George Bush assasination plot. Nothing was posted on May 14th, or July 4th.

To even out my research, I searched “New York Times terrorism” and was presented with a list of articles posted by the left-leaning publication. At first, the publications were similar to that of Fox News–that is, with perhaps a few less haughty jabs at the current democratic President. Keywords included Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Taliban. At August 23rd, I hit my first publication regarding domestic terrorism: “Two Men Convicted in Plot to Kidnap Michigan’s Governor.” I did not see that on the Fox News site. There was nothing here either about the shooting on July 4th, but there was on:

Why is it that when I searched “Terrorism” - a term with a pretty concrete definition according to the FBI’s official website, I got such different results about what actually counts as terrorism? Is it really such a political issue? To me, I thought terrorism was terrorism.

Something remarkable happened in U.S. history after the events of 9/11. For a period, Americans were united under a common event, value, and goal of safety and patriotism. Americans across the United States found common-ness in the experience of grief, fear, and needing to do better. Since 9/11, the U.S. has made dramatic changes in how it handles national security and terrorism intellegence. With the passage of the U.S. Patriot Act, surveillance systems for tracking possible threats were funded and put into place, and now there have been no single-day terrorism attacks to the extent of 9/11.

That’s great.

Except, as of September 2021, there have been 45,058 gun-related deaths since 2013. 691 mass shootings. 313 children killed. Terrorism attacks do live on. They happen in grocery stores, in subway stations, and in schools. They happen in video recordings and they are able to be shared in seconds, rather than the lack of information during the 9/11 attacks. With all of this information, why haven’t we responded to recent terrorist attacks like we did with 9/11? Why haven’t we united?

Other nations in the world have acted to combat gun violence as a form of terrorism and drastically reduced the number of people lost to gun violence every year. Here, in America, we have also seen success in taking action to combat a form of terrorism. 9/11. We have done it before, so–we can do it again.


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