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Here we go Again!

By March 28, 2018June 30th, 2020Active Shooter, Enemy, failure, mass shooting, The Weekly

“Terrorizing and terrorism are two different things.” Bruce Hoffman

“…mostly forgettable.” A neighbor of Mark Anthony Conditt

Over the past few weeks, America has experienced some very unlikely attacks, each carried out by the same person. The most recent of these Texas attacks, though not as damaging as the ones before it, caused great mayhem due to the fear and anxiety sown by the attacker. “What occurred in Austin over the past few weeks certainly, without a doubt, terrorized people,” said Bruce Hoffman, a senior visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of ‘Inside Terrorism.’ But just inducing fear and anxiety is insufficient to say that it’s terrorism. Terrorizing and terrorism are two different things.”

Ignorance concerning the subject of terrorism is causing damage within our nation. When we as humans are attacked by someone it ought to result in unity, not division. When division ensues, the terrorists win. Let’s review what terrorism is, what it isn’t and how it gets categorized as terrorism. We will briefly examine how it is being used by ideologues to cause ravaging division, affecting our unity and cohesion as a people.

I wrote an article concerning the meaning of terrorism on October 4th, 2017 in issue #10 of More than Meets the Eye entitled, ‘Words Mean Things”, and again on November 25th, 2017 in article #16, “Words Still Mean things”. In these issues I attempted to explain why investigative authorities labeled neither Stephen Pollock nor Devin Kelly as terrorists, even though their heinous acts were among some of the worst in modern US history.

In light of the legal definition of terrorism we will examine the current case of Mark Anthony Conditt, the Austin, Texas bomber. This will help us to understand why the authorities have categorized his actions as they have. There are those who in ignorance are trying to make sense of these terrorist acts, but because they lack either integrity or the ability to comprehend, are creating disunity by their statements.

The review.

Over the past three weeks, the city of Austin, Texas has been terrorized by an elusive serial bomber. “The ‘serial bomber’ who has planted a half-dozen explosive devices in and around Austin this month has cast a pall of anxiety and dread over the people of what’s one of the safest cities in America.” For a detailed account, click here.

Here’s what happened in Austin:

• On March 2, a package bomb killed Anthony House in East Austin, age 39.

• On March 12, two more package bombs exploded in east Austin. One killed 17 year old Draylen Mason and injured his mother. The other injured Esperanza Herrera, 75 years old.

• On March 18, a bomb triggered by a trip wire injured two cyclists in south Austin.

• On March 20, a package bomb injured one person at a FedEx distribution center, while a second unexploded bomb was found and deactivated at a different FedEx center in the Austin area.

What have been the effects of this bombing spree?

  1. Police responded to hundreds of calls about suspicious packages as they had asked the community to be on high alert, tying up vast amounts of local and federal police resources. Three hundred federal agents were involved in the manhunt and investigation.
  2. The residents of Austin woke up needing some advice from local security authorities. Here is the advice they received.
  3. Pay close attention to your surroundings—especially concerning packages, bags, or backpacks.

• Do not approach anything suspicious. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

• Do not open any packages of which you don’t recognize the sender; ones that have excessive postage, misspelled words, or any strange stains or scents.

• Make sure your children understand the above.

• If you’re concerned about what’s left at your doorstep, enter your house a different way. Train your children to do the same.

• Pay attention to emergency alerts in your area.

• If you have any tips, call (512) 472-8477.

3. Local and federal authorities spent millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours investigating this crime spree.

4. Local and national officials have made concerted calls to label these killings as terrorist.

5. Accusations of “racism” are being weighed even though the events do not fit within the normal definitions of terrorism.

6. Muslim groups are furious because they wager that if this attack had been perpetrated by a person of color, namely, non-white, it would have been treated as a terrorist act.

Terrorism is winning again. We as a society are walking straight into its trap. It certainly is a reality that several past horrific events perpetrated by white citizens have not been treated as terrorist events. Does labeling an event as terroristic make it a more heinous violation towards mankind? -Apparently so. Are white people getting favorable treatment by not being labeled as terrorists? There is a need for national dialogue for sure. What that looks like for a society of 300 million people of all colors is a social experiment that has yet to be figured out. It appears however, that until the puzzle is solved these labels of racism will continue. With each label the wedge between races will only be driven further. Perhaps it is time for the Church to take more seriously this wedge and to embrace the teachings of Christ. It is time for us to become the solution to the problem instead of being the problem itself.

What is terrorism? According to the federal government’s definition, a crime is classified as terrorism only if it is politically or ideologically motivated. In the cases of Stephen Pollock, Devin Kelley and Mark Anthony Conditt, authorities have been unable to ascertain political or ideological motivations. The Patriot Act defines domestic terrorism as an attempt to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”

To be charged with terrorism, a person has to be suspected of acting on behalf of one of nearly 60 groups that the State Department has declared to be a foreign terrorist organization. Some are well-known, including the Islamic State and al-Qaida, while others are far more obscure. Most, not all, are Islamist. A person who carries out a mass attack and survives can face a range of charges, but unless the person is linked to one of the banned groups, a federal terrorism charge won’t be one of them.

Legally speaking, many in law enforcement say they are wary of creating a criminal charge of “domestic terrorism.” They say they already have the tools to investigate and bring charges in any case involving an attempted or actual mass attack. Creating a “domestic terrorism” charge could quickly raise all sorts of First Amendment questions about free speech, religion and ideology. Believe me when I say, we do not want a federal charge of domestic terrorism. It would be way too easy for us to get caught in those cross-hairs in the future.

If we as a nation want to change our definition of terrorism, let’s hold a referendum to do that, but until that is done all we have to go on are the laws and agencies that are elected into office to uphold law and order as they see fit in accordance with established regulations. Meanwhile, we must become better citizens by gaining a better understanding of what is happening around us. Rather than labeling one another when tragic events occur, let us come together reasonably to find solutions rather than lowering ourselves to the level of slinging words of vindication at one another. When we do that, terrorists win; every time.

The why.

Our situations of safety are not getting any better. We no longer live in a world where we can go to sleep at night with the front door open. Now we are being instructed to go around the house and carefully inspect packages from FEDEX, UPS and USPS before opening them. It is a different world. Who wants to live in a world like that? Why are we allowing it to happen? How are we impacting our world for the better? My fear is that if we are not careful, in the spirit of prudence and stewardship we will just build bigger walls and construct greater security systems to protect ourselves rather than dealing with matters at their core. We are rapidly becoming a people who are inadvertently hiding the Light we possess under a bushel in the name of safety and security. We loosely equate it with living, but in all actuality we are merely surviving. Jesus told us “that he came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Hiding in our castles is not abundant living. Concealing ourselves behind thicker doors and implementing tighter security is an illusory machination. It removes us from the center of God’s best as ambassadors of his love and puts us in a place of fear and self-induced solitary confinement. I am convinced that having a better understanding of our world and God’s Word will have a sophisticating effect on us, allowing us to move through the chaos with confidence, competence and courage, becoming a people of change and good.

The action.

There are several ways we can become agents of change in our world. The advice that was given by the Austin authorities is wise. It is appropriate and necessary as it represents a reflection of the world in which we live. However, most will not heed the advice given. It is critical that we follow these guidelines, therefore as a review, here is the advice once again.

• Pay close attention to your surroundings—especially to packages, bags, or backpacks.

• Do not approach anything suspicious. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

• Do not open any packages of which you don’t recognize the sender; ones that have excessive postage, misspelled words, or any strange stains or scents.

• Make sure your children understand the above.

• If you’re concerned about what’s left at your doorstep, go inside your house a different way. Train your children to do the same.

• Pay attention to emergency alerts in your area.

• If you have any tips, call (512) 472-8477.

Let’s not stop here! Let’s become agents of change in our communities. Let’s not lock ourselves away simply to survive another day.

  • Look for the Mark Anthony Conditts in your neighborhood. His neighbors described him as a “mostly forgettable” young man. Look for him. Look for those in your neighborhoods who appear to be forgettable. Remember them. Remember them by reaching out to them, caring for them, praying for them. Get to know them.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Invite them over for dinner, to a movie night or to a BBQ. Much good can be accomplished over a barbecue!
  • Run for public office. I am still amazed at how many Christians eschew public service. It is a noble endeavor and can make a difference if it is done under the lordship of Christ.
  • Allow yourself to break out of your ethnic-specific lifestyle. America is made up of many colors and cultures. We, as Christians ought to lead the way in loving one another no matter what color or culture we are from. If we don’t lead the way, it could be done in an unhealthy way. Racial walls may come down apart from the love of Christ, perhaps due to guilt and shame, instead of God’s desire for righteousness. Refuse to engage in any form of prejudice, no matter how harmless it may appear. The world is filled with so many wrongs. All of them can be made right if we as God’s people live up to his standard by his Word.
  • Pray for all the families who have been impacted by the tragedies of the Austin bomber. Pray for the families of the murdered and the injured, for comfort and the ability to forgive. Pray for the family of Mark Anthony Conditt. His family is known as a devoted Christian family. Their lives have been rocked forever by his actions. Pray for them comfort and recovery from the trauma. Pray for the churches in Austin to be ones of grace, humility and truth. The non-believing world will use this tragedy to malign those who believe in Christ, those who attend church and those who homeschool. This will likely be a launching pad to discredit everything you and I hold dear.

Resources.

For a good description of what happened… http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-austin-bombings-suspect-20180321-story.html

Who is Mark Anthony Conditt?… http://www.businessinsider.com/everything-we-know-…

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/03/20/ut-police-chiefcallsaustin-bombings-terrorist-act-reassures-students-parents

MTMTE Article #10, Words Mean Things… https://mailchi.mp/7209b3dc2e03/more-than-meets-the-eye?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

MTMTE Article #16, Words STILL Mean Things… https://mailchi.mp/71884e866045/more-than-meets-the-eye?e=[UNIQID]

Austin Local Advice… http://www.austinmonthly.com/Blog/March-2018/Austin-Bombings-How-to-Stay-Safe-And-How-to-Help/

Patriot Act… http://www.crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/the-patriot-act.html

Domestic Terrorism… https://www.npr.org/2017/10/02/555170250/what-is-and-isnt-considered-domestic-terrorism

Conditt’s Church Affiliation… https://heavy.com/news/2018/03/mark-conditt-faith-austin-stone-community-church-religion-christian/

Austin Bombing and FEDEX… https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/03/20/package-believed-to-be-bound-for-austin-explodes-at-texas-fedex-facility-police-say/?utm_term=.5305ab44cb10

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