The suspect in the recent massacre at a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin has been identified by authorities as Wade Michael Page, former specialist in the U.S. Army. Police have also identified a "person of interest," a man they say took pictures and video of the scene following the mass shooting.
Seven people have died as a result of Page's actions, including Page himself. An officer who responded to the emergency, and who was shot multiple times, is expected to make a full recovery
According to reports Mr. Page worked as a psychological operations specialist during his time in the Army, which lasted from 1992 until 1998. Highly decorated, though never deployed to combat, Page was discharged for patterns of misconduct and ineligible for re-enlistment.
There have been claims that the suspect has ties to a Neo Nazi organization, that he was a disgruntled, disturbed skinhead. Apparently he helped form a band, End of Apathy, that parroted racist views and hate speech.
Whatever Page's socio-political affiliations, it is clear that he has helped to raise some very important questions, questions that may have some very hard answers.
For instance, just what is an act of terrorism? Who is to be considered a terrorist? How do we promote safety while still upholding the ideals and standards of the Constitution?
First the Partiot Act and now the Defense Authorization Act have given the American people legal terms to define both the person and the deed. But how does the average American cope with being profiled?
The elephant in the room, as regards not only the Sikh temple shooting, but also the "Dark Knight Rises" theater massacre, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the Columbine shooting, not to mention countless others, is that they were perpetrated by white males.
The "average" American.
This of course, leads to a number of problems, if the same logic that has been applied to minority groups were to be applied here. To profile a group that is perceived to be less powerful or at the very least, less numerous than the main power group is one thing. To turn this subtle intolerance on onesself, however, simply will not do.
I don't feel like this is an 'Aha!" moment or anything, I just feel like its time to call these horrible acts what they are, using the jargon of the day. Acts of domestic terrorism. Every act mentioned above would be considered, without question, an act of terrorism if a member of a specific minority group had carried it out.
Since the begining of the War on Terror, Americans have been led to believe that terrorism was some easily identifiable and simply labeled commmodity. As recent events have shown, securing freedom and ending terror isn't as simple as starting wars and pointing missiles, though.
These most recent crimes have indeed been tragic, but that doesn't change the fact that they were not random acts by disturbed individuals. Though there is no doubt that both Page and Holmes had and have mental issues, there is no question that each man possessed enough mental capabilitiy to plan their rampages. Each man targeted a specific group of people. Each man contributed to the suspicion and hesitance we feel when we pass another American on the streets these days.
Each man is a terrorist.
Benjamin Burton Jr. 8/6/2012