Why aren't more people calling Nidal Malik Hassan a "terrorist", I have been asked. Maybe that's because what Hassan did does not constitute "terrorism", as that word is properly defined. As you can see, from the following article:
By RJ Eskow
The Huffington Post -- November 11, 2009
People who label Nidal Malik Hasan a "terrorist," like Joe Lieberman just did, literally don't understand the meaning of the word. And how can they keep us safe from terrorism if they don't even know what it is?
Here's what Sen. Lieberman said: ""There are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr. Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and, therefore, that this was a terrorist act."
Here's a fairly concise definition of the word 'terrorism', drawn from the Random House Dictionary: "The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes." (emphasis mine)
Had Dr. Hasan become "an Islamist extremist"? It sure looks that way. But was the horrific slaughter he carried out intended to "intimidate or coerce" anyone? We've heard no evidence to that effect. These terrible killings may have just been an expression of inchoate rage. And if we don't know whether coercion or intimidation was the goal, then we certainly don't know if it was done "for political purposes."
Sen. Lieberman's statement, on the other hand, probably was made "for political purposes." And bigotry might be a factor, too, don't you think? After all, the Senator made no such statements about other shootings at military facilities.
Let's get one thing straight: This is not a liberal, knee-jerk defense of someone because he belongs to an unpopular minority (although defending unpopular minorities is generally a good practice). If we learn that Malik Hasan left a note saying "anybody who serves in the US Armed Forces must know they will face retribution," we'll know that he is a terrorist. He will have committed his murders in order to intimidate or coerce. But right now we don't have any evidence that suggests Hasan is any different from the civilian who killed 23 people at a cafeteria right down the road from Ft. Hood, shouting "This is what Central Texas did to me!"
Apparently that guy really hated Central Texas. But he wasn't a terrorist, because he wasn't trying to intimidate people or change their behavior.
So if the Luby's Cafeteria Murderer wasn't a terrorist, what does qualify as terrorism? Al Qaeda's dirty deeds do, of course. Those cowardly killings are intended to provoke US withdrawal from all Muslim countries. (No, they don't do it because "they hate our freedoms.") Christian extremist Scott Roeder's act of murder was terrorism, too, because he wants doctors to stop performing abortions. (He and others like him have nearly achieved their goal, too, which makes it pretty effective terror.)