When 3 gunmen shoot 19 at a Mother’s Day parade, it’s not “terrorism”

No terrorism please, we’re gunmen.  A bizarre story out of New Orleans, where two or three gunmen opened fire on a Mother’s Day parade, injuring 19 people, including two children.

Sure sounds awfully familiar, almost like a redux of the Boston Marathon bombing.  But you’d be wrong.

You see, when two guys use bombs to hurt people en masse at a marathon, it’s instantly “terrorism.”  But when two to three people use guns to hurt people en masse at a parade, it’s simply “the relentless drumbeat of street violence.”

What’s the difference?

A homemade bomb versus a gun, by the looks of it.

If both were intended to harm, and scare, a large number of random people, would they not be the same?  Sure, they’ve invoked Islam with the Boston Marathon bombing, but so far, we haven’t heard much detail about any real motive there.  Yet we’re sure that’s terror, and this is just that silly old “street violence” so common in America.

The real problem is American culture and its fetish with, and tolerance for, violence.

The New Orleans Police Department has released video of the shooting, and at least one of the suspects.  I’ve made the video into an animated gif – you can see the video, which is much slower, below:

nola-total

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Chris Rickey

    Terrorism is what the government calls it when they are seriously considering stripping you of your humanity, constitutional rights, and freedoms. Terrorism is what the government calls it when they want to invade another country and illegally violate national sovereignty. Terrorism is an idea used to inject fear, exercise control, and promote political agendas. Terrorism the finest tool the federal government has invented to control us since the cold war.

  • Corey

    As with the words “war” and “socialist” the term “terrorist” is being used as a wide reaching description of many things. “Communist” was another popular word to use. However, to look at the big picture, this incident along with the upcoming t-bag gathering with guns, can clearly be called terrorism, because both are seen as trying to intimidate people with guns, especially those who seem anti-gun where many are anti-war too. So…if its good enough to call two boobs trying to blow up people, why not all the “home grown” usually by white Christian men, acts of violence be seen as acts of terror? They are generally done to scare and leave an impact: gay bashing, killing abortion doctors, and putting the gov on notice as the t-bag rally coming up has said they are doing!

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    or standing near to a political spokesman…
    :-(

  • http://twitter.com/BillFromDover Bill from Dover

    Maybe we are overacting; perhaps this guy just loves his borsch cooked squishy?

    Ya want national outrage, wait until something nasty is found inside a 3-wood!

  • GreenEagle

    I have a rather different take on the shooting of Gabby Giffords. I have been closely following the right in this country since the mid-1960′s. In particular, I have an interest in the Sovereign Citizen movement, which has been responsible for numerous acts of violence in the last couple of decades. Upon his capture, Jared Loughner made a number of cryptic statements which the press, with its typical ignorance, interpreted as signs of mental illness. In fact, they were the cant of a particular strain of the Sovereign Citizen movement, and indicate that Loughner was a right wing fanatic, and that, therefore, his actions did indeed amount to terrorism.

    Regardless of the fact that this is clearly true, it will be disregarded, because the press seems united with the Republican party in denying the existence of right wing violence in this country. I doubt that you will ever hear this from anyone but me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kurt.steinbach Kurt David Steinbach

    The Boston Marathon is also an International sports event, and the shooting in New Orleans is more on the level of Newtown or Aurora. I think something needs to be done about mass shooting s such as Newtown and New Orleans.what we can do to stop things like the Boston Bombing are less known, as it so far still appears that the two brothers acted mostly alone (lone wolves) and such lone wolf attacks are difficult to prevent because they are as difficult for authorities to predict (see coming) as work place shootings, most of which are also difficult to predict. It’s why with work place shootings and massacres, you often here people say, “He just snapped.” You don’t usually here people say that “terrorists” “just snapped.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/kurt.steinbach Kurt David Steinbach

    Suicide bombers are terrorists. You are correct in that. The one(s)s who are in control is/are the members of the terrorist group that sent the person or that the suicide bomber is a part of. It is why Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups, because they are murderers of innocents….

  • http://www.facebook.com/kurt.steinbach Kurt David Steinbach

    So then by your definition, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 should henceforth always be referred to as an attempted assassination. There’s just one problem, it has not been referred to as such. It has been treated as a a mass shooting. Shouldn’t it be elevated to the level of assassination since she was a Congresswoman? The problem here is guns and violence in the United States. There is a culture of violence in the U.S., and the GOP and the NRA want criminals to be able to get a hold of guns, and they want there to be a black market, straw purchases, and easy gun trafficking between gun manufacturerers and gun buyers no matter what the purpose for those sales, as long as private enterprise can do what they want unregulated.

  • GreenEagle

    I wonder how people feel about the guy from Saudi Arabia flying into the United States with a pressure cooker. Incredibly stupid terrorist, or just incredibly stupid person?

  • GreenEagle

    Jesse, I agree totally with the point you are trying to make, but I must point out that the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, seems to have been obsessed with the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Breivik, who himself was heavily influenced by the American hatemongers Geller and Spencer. If this turns out to be true, there may indeed be a political background to Lanza’s actions, making the question of whether he was a terrorist very unclear.

  • GreenEagle

    I think pretty much all real terrorist acts are political in nature. Ones without political motive are pretty much just insane violence. The Aurora Theater shooter, for example, does not seem to me to be a terrorist, just a mentally ill maniac. If I’m right, there is really no such thing as simple “terrorism,” as a distinct entity.

  • GreenEagle

    I did not say that we know the motives of the Boston Bombers. I said that the vast majority of bombing incidents in public places, both here and abroad, do involve political motives, so it is not unreasonable to suspect this one does too. And it is not unreasonable to consider the fact that the Boston Bombers come from a relatively small ethnic group with a long history of perpetrating this sort of violence. We may be wrong, but the probabilities lie in favor of that assumption.

    With the New Orleans shooters, we still know nothing.

  • Corey

    First..were they Muslim? That gets u an automatic label of “terrorist” even if u just fart in a movie theater, and the automatic “do not pass go ….. Go directly to jail” card!

  • http://twitter.com/smokemifugotm Jesse Cale

    I’m sorry, John, I usually agree with you, but you’re getting ahead of yourself here. Your points are all well taken, except that we don’t yet know much about these shooters. The Boston marathon bombers have a background that suggests a political motivation, which for me is (so far) a big distinction. Terrorism is intentional political theater, and not every mass killing qualifies as such (e.g. Sandy Hook was terrible, but it was the act of a disturbed person, not violence designed to influence a nation or group’s policy).

  • nicho

    Oh, dear. So when I give “the look” in a theater to the people behind me who are yakking away, I am being a terrorist? I am trying to put them in my control.

  • NMRon

    Note the color of the victims and the perpetrators. People of color shooting people of color is barely defined as a crime in the US, let alone terror. Labeling the act as ‘terror’ would require us to recognize the victims as human beings with rights just like us. Our Corporate Owners can’t allow that. How else could they keep us divided?

  • UncleBucky

    A bully on the playground that gives the “babboon stare” to an impressionable youngster, making the child cry, is a terrorist just as much as a bomber or a shooter.

    The intent is to scare people to place them under one’s control forever or for enough time to be satisfying to the terrorist. So that includes the bomber that blows himself up, too. The moment that he presses the button or makes the call, HE IS IN CONTROL – not for long, but enough time to have achieved control. ;o)

  • nicho

    No, you’re wrong. I wasn’t trying to “stifle” anything. I was pointing out the problem with trying to develop a definition of “terrorism” based on the supposed intention of the bombers.

    For example, we don’t know what motivated the Boston bombers, and I suspect neither did they. They just probably had learned how to make bombs and wanted to blow up something — or someone. They may even have told themselves the story that they were doing this in response to Iraq or Afghanistan, but in the absence of any previous political activity or affiliation prior to that, it remains just a convenient story.

    However, many people who want to say that they were “terrorists” would define a set of criteria that, when applied to the US military, would paint them as terrorists too. And those people would object to that.

  • caphillprof

    Is the motive and intent of the attacker? or rather the motive and intent of the political party reacting?

  • caphillprof

    If a bomb attack on a major even is “political terrorism” then what constitutes simple “terrrorism?”

  • GreenEagle

    Nicho, you know what I meant. Your comment is not an attempt to engage me about the point I was trying to make, but was designed simply to stifle my comment, which I believe was true.

  • Naja pallida

    Or the children of people who make anti-American YouTube videos.

  • nicho

    People who set off bombs, in our experience, almost always have a political objective.

    Kind of like the US military dropping bombs on people who are merely political spokesmen.

  • nicho

    It requires a serious and unknown threat by an unknown number of unknown people — who may or may not be prepared to kill many more people. There were bombs set off that killed and maimed a significant number of people. A police officer sitting in his cruiser was assassinated in cold blood. Citizens were carjacked and kidnapped. The killers/bombers were still on the loose, were still in murder mode, and still had firearms and bombs, which they were using with wild abandon. Police were unsure whether they were part of a larger network. If the authorities can shut the city down for a freaking blizzard or hurricane, they can certainly do it for a public safety threat of this magnitude. People just need to get their self-righteous panties out of a knot.

  • cole3244

    gun violence in america has different names depending on the color of your skin, just like everything in america, a racist & bigoted nation through and through.

  • GreenEagle

    People who set off bombs, in our experience, almost always have a political objective. So, it’s not that out of line to assume that a bomb attack on a major event is political terrorism. With this crazy thing in New Orleans, I just don’t have a clue about the motive, so I’ll wait a little longer before playing the terrorism card.

    And by the way, my wife and I were on Frenchmen Street about six blocks from this shooting a week ago, so needless to say, I sort of take a personal interest in it.

  • Guest

    Because guns are holy.
    Given what appear to be the facts here, i have a fiendish strategy for enacting gun registration and confiscation legislation: It will only apply to urban Blacks. Let’s see how the Second Amendment hyenas deal with that one.

  • Naja pallida

    Teabagger or not, there is a point to be made. What is the line where it warrants locking down a city to find the suspects? Does it require a bomb? Does it require a certain number of casualties? Does it require a specific level of media hype? Or does it just require a militarized police force that wants to do something to justify its huge expenditures on anti-terrorism materiel?

  • nicho

    The problem is that there is no workable definition of terrorism. Even among terrorism “experts,” there are over 100 nuanced definitions on the table. It has to do with who the attackers are, who the victims are, what the means are, and what the motive is. And the last is very hard to determine.

    If you make the definition too narrow, then you exclude things we want to count as terrorism. If you make it too broad, then we include things that we don’t want to count as terrorism.

    For example, some people will say that it has to be an attack against civilians — not military installations. By that measure, then the attack on the Pentagon on 9-11 and the attack on the US Cole would not be terrorism. If you count attacks on military installation, then most of our bombing in the Middle East can be counted as terrorism.

    If you say it’s an attack on civilians to achieve some political objective, then you have to count the US’s “Shock and Awe” against Iraqi civilians in 2003 as one of the largest, if not the largest and most deadly, terrorist attacks in history.

  • Tillyosu

    I don’t agree. Conservatives have been complaining forever that the Hassan shooting was not classified as terrorism, but as a workplace shooting. I think it depends on the motive and intent of the attacker.

  • nicho

    I don’t think the Boston bombers attacked any particular race, per se. They just placed a bomb in a place where there were a lot of people. The bottom line is that the NRA doesn’t want gun violence classified as terrorism. It’s all political.

  • nicho

    Thanks for the Teabagger Talking Points.

  • nicho

    It’s the insurance, silly. Most of the merchants affected in Boston won’t be able to collect — unless they have terrorism clauses in their policy. Most of them don’t. We wouldn’t want the big insurance corporations to have to pay out after all, would we? That’s not an issue in New Orleans.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yeah, I was thinking of the perps and not the crowd – yo’ure right, the crowd seems mostly black here. And the shooter looks black. So yes, black on black is just “normal” violence, the argument goes…

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I don’t agree with that. I do think the Boston Marathon bombing was a “bigger” story. In part because this was a local mother’s day parade, on a small street, not a huge annual event.

  • http://twitter.com/DJActon David Johnson

    Yes, that’s the first thing that came to my mind, too! But there’s also the issue of using a gun to commit a crime is such an American tradition, a freedom all gun-owners think is part of their Second Amendment rights. Using guns is the all-American way; using something “cooked up” that is not a gun, well, and then there’s that “furiner” side to the Boston one.

  • pappyvet

    If the crowd were white,you could’nt find a t.v. station that wasn’t playing it all day. There would be massive play on Faux News and questions of “black” violence would abound

  • guest1

    Proof that the Boston bombing was way over hyped by the media, why arn’t cops locking down the city this time?

  • Anonymoose

    Well, let’s see. Black on Black with guns = street violence. The attack on Boston was an attack on White people = terrorism.

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