Was it Terrorism?

A man with a gripe against the system crashed a plane into an IRS office. The first thing people ask is whether this was  a crime or domestic terrorism as if the two categories are mutually exclusive.

The official definition is “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).

Unlawful use of force and violence? Check.

Requisite grievance? Check. And how. If this manifesto is genuine, the man responsible had an axe to grind with the IRS, politicians, GM executives, drug and insurance companies, the Catholic Church, tax-exempt religious organizations generally, corrupt unions, Arthur Andersen executives, former Senator Patrick Moynihan, wealthy loan companies, his accountant, George W. Bush, communists, and capitalists.

That hasn’t stopped people from trying to lay this man at the feet of political opponents.

This guy’s political affiliation was “crazy.”  Everyone should move on and not try to score political points with this incident.

Whether or not he meets the definition, it’s better to deny this man and those like him any credibility with the word “terrorist.” As my colleague Jim Harper said (twice) about the man who shot Dr. George Tiller, this is an unproductive debate that fulfills their desire to be something more than a pathetic murderer.