Was the Austin plane-crasher a terrorist?

Joseph Stack flew an airplane into an office building, killing himself and at least one other person, because of his years-old anger and frustration with the government, or so he wrote.

So is it terrorism?

Well, that depends. The act itself isn’t enough to make it terrorism. Otherwise, every violent act could be tagged that way. To make it terrorism, the perpetrator needs a purpose. A goal the terrorist (or randomly suicidal psychopath) hopes his violence might achieve.

Ah: there, I’ve just assumed that terrorism requires violence, and I think that’s accurate. But not just violence. The police use violence, or the threat thereof, targeted at those who have broken or who might break the law. Terrorists use extralegal violence, targeted more-or-less randomly, in order to intimidate greater numbers of people through that violence.

Okay, so terrorism requires violence or the threat thereof, and considering all the wet Western pant-legs we saw over the Muslim reaction to those Mohammed cartoons, we know that such violence (or the threat thereof) works.

Now: whether or not Stack had a goal; whether or not he hoped his act would change anything…

We don’t know, and we’ll never know for sure, but it seems obvious that he targeted that building because of the IRS offices inside. Yes, he insulted and vented on other people and groups, but his “suicide note” is largely a screed against big government and big business. He blames his own problems on them, and the self-serving culture their power (he says) perpetuates. His own decisions had a lot to do with his problems, too – his letter makes that pretty clear – but in the end, he blames the culture of corruption fed by greedy and power-hungry CEOs and politicians, which predestined him to fail.

So it was revenge, maybe, and nothing else? These two paragraphs from near the end of his letter indicate otherwise:

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure (sic) nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.

However broad, ill-defined, and immoral, that sounds like a goal.

The only remaining question is: did he really mean it, or was he just rationalizing his own actions? I’ve read that people will almost always justify an illegal and/or immoral act somehow, if only in their own heads. The adulterer reasons that a little spice will make him a better husband. The shoplifter decides he’s owed this thing because the store overcharges for other things.

The failed businessman suffering from severe depression rationalizes that he’s trying to “wake up” the “American zombies.” “Strike a nerve.”

That could be it. This story, telling us Stack’s friends never heard him talk taxes or politics, would seem to support that theory.

We’ll never know for sure. Still: we’ve got a violent act, aimed at innocents, intended — at least as justification — to further a political goal.

If it’s all true, then that’s terrorism.

(The TrogloPundit)

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