Insanity Isn't Concrete; Neither Is Terrorism

by Zoe Pollock

Jen Paton compares the media's treatment of Jared Loughner with Timothy McVeigh:

Like McVeigh, Loughner targeted a symbol of government power, and hurt innocent people. Like McVeigh, Loughner had a complicated relationship with the military and, like McVeigh, he apparently had a deep mistrust of the United States government. Jared Loughner, like Timothy McVeigh, “had reasons of his own,” which are and always will be inaccessible to the rest of us. But we called McVeigh a terrorist. ...

The media’s concern with sanity or insanity, and its quickness to find for the latter, indicates a reluctance to view terrorism as psychological, and, to flip things around, a reluctance to view a troubled young white American with no religious ties as a terrorist. In 1995, this was not a distinction we made so easily.