All available evidence suggests that when Micah Johnson sniped police officers in downtown Dallas on Thursday, he intended it as a political act.
During the ensuing standoff, he told police negotiators that he was angry about the recent apparently unwarranted killings of black men by police, and “stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” according to Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
Johnson could not have reasonably believed that he’d shoot enough cops to actually diminish the capacity of law enforcement agencies to unjustifiably kill black people. He did it to send a message, to arbitrarily terrorize cops in the way that he felt arbitrarily terrorized by them.
Am I arguing, then, that journalists (like me) should be calling Johnson a terrorist?
No, even though I think the dictionary definition of that word clearly applies to him.
I think the fact that almost nobody is calling Johnson a terrorist —like almost nobody called Dylann Roof (the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter) or the Oregon wildlife refuge occupiers terrorists — demonstrates how uselessly arbitrary and loaded that word has become, and I think it’s time for journalists to stop parroting it uncritically….