Just so we’re sure….

A bunch of guys from Saudi Arabia crash planes into buildings for overtly political reasons, and that is terrorism.

A guy from Austin, TX, crashes his plane into a building for overtly political reasons, and “At this time, we have no reason to believe there is a nexus to terrorist activity.”

I’m curious where the cutoff point is. Is it because he flew a single-engine aircraft instead of a big passenger plane? Is it because no one died? Is it because it was, y’know, in Austin – not like it’s somewhere that’s actually important like Washington DC or New York. Is it because he’s an American citizen? Is it because (dun-dun-DUNNN) he’s white?

Certainly as details emerge, we may see a turnaround on this. He may be labeled a terrorist after all. Near as I can tell when making this kind of judgment call, it is the motivation that matters. He was making an explicit political point, and chose to express himself through violence against government workers and property. He was willing to cause the deaths of up to 200 people in order to send a message to the mean ol’ IRS.

If he’d done it because Shirley in Human Resources turned him down for a date once and he’s never been able to get over it, and he figured that he’d show her how much he loved her – HE’D SHOW THEM ALL!! – then there would be no real reason to wonder about what to label this incident. I just hope that we’re able to maintain some sense of consistency here and call it what it is – terrorism.

What’s really kinda scary is that, reading his suicide note (PDF), I do agree with him on some points. He notes that Our Elected Officials couldn’t move fast enough to save GM and rescue the financial giants that shat in our economy, but ask them to do something to benefit the citizens of the United States – deal with the health care problem – and they drag their feet like surly six year-olds told to clean their room. His is a story of woe, of being put down by The Man, but I suppose it would have to be. The day I see a Wall Street executive crash his plane into a building to demand tax reform is the day things get really interesting.

Also, as I was reading that, I could hear the ghost of Howard Zinn sitting behind me, nodding and saying, “Told you so.”