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Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letter of the Week: A Bomber By Any Other Name

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This week's letter comes from Mr. A. Plum who wonders why the media is having such a hard time applying the label of "terrorist" to the man who intentionally flew his plane into the Austin IRS building last week. Thanks for the letter, Mr. P, we couldn't have said it any better. You can pick up your winnings, a bag of Strictly Organic coffee, at our office, 704 NW Georgia.


If someone flew an airplane into a building full of people to protest the Afghan war, it would be called an act of terrorism. However, when Mr. Joe Stack flew his plane into an IRS building and killed people, the news media calls it, "the accident" and "the incident." The local Texas prosecutor declared that Mr. Stack was not a terrorist. But what should you call it when a man pens a manifesto proclaiming, "violence is the only answer," then kills people because they work for the government? Mr. Stack's wife apologized on the news to "everyone affected by the incident," but was careful not to use the term "victim" when referring to the people her husband murdered.

Regardless of the media's politically correct posturing, the simple fact is this: Joe Stack was a suicide bomber. Even though his name was Joe, and not Mohammed, and even though he was protesting taxes, not Israeli foreign policy, Mr. Stack was a murderer of the innocent. So why does the media avoid the T-word when referring to him? Because anti-tax politicians are powerful. When Massachusetts's new senator was asked about the plane attack, he yawned, "No one likes paying taxes." That sentiment is quite popular, as so few news outlets see fit to interview the families of Mr. Stack's victims, or even print their names. Apparently, if you are killed because you work for the IRS, your name is not even worthy of a line in the newspaper.

Many have forgotten the violent Tea Party rallies of last summer, the busses full of anti-tax activists appearing at congressional offices around the country with their clubs and fists and foul mouths. Many have forgotten the Sarah Palin rallies of 2008, events that attracted characters similar to the murderous Mr. Stack. But the media has not forgotten those events, because they know that if they refer to Mr. Stack as a terrorist, as a man who killed innocent people to make a point, they'll wind up in the crosshairs themselves.


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