When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When they are white? Or just when we share a certain amount of cultural ancestry?
A lot remains unanswered about the murder of the British parliamentarian Jo Cox last Wednesday. And it's far too easy - and dangerous - to jump to any conclusions before the full facts have been aired. Mental illness has been proposed as a cause. Ditto that, for the young British man who tried to murder Donald Trump on Saturday. Nonetheless, in both cases it strikes me as bizarre, that - despite repeated evidence pointing in this direction - in almost no reportage yet has the word terrorism even be mooted. For either case. But terrorism is the pushing of a political / ideological agenda through violence.
Why is this? Why do we avoid the T-word here, but we're so happy to dole it out in other circumstances? Because the attackers, in some ridiculous sense, "look like us"? Or because we're scared to admit that there are dangerous people in all communities? Of every faith, creed and upbringing? And that fascist rhetoric is growing.
If this act had been committed by someone who was in any way connected to the Muslim faith, I'm quite sure that they would have been decried "terrorist until proven innocent". Any psychological health issues would have been mere side-notes. And, yet again, the entire Muslim community would have been blamed for what occurred.
The way we use words - the way we tell stories - has a large bearing on how we interpret events. Subjecting an entire community to blame and prejudice for the acts of one person, but absolving another for the same act, is flower-dressed prejudice. The constant persecution of the Islamic community (not to mention of other communities, including the black community) feeds simply to create a society of "us's" and "them's".
To put this further, why won't the BBC - a media service I generally admire - acknowledge the refugee crisis for what it is?
There is a large difference between a migrant and a refugee.
I am a migrant. I left Scotland in search of a better life and a better job (and, admittedly, more adventure). This makes me, by all accounts, a migrant. An economic migrant, no less. Most of my friends are economic migrants. Not one of us has had to ensure the hardship of crossing a night-time sea in an ill-equipped boat. Or putting our lives into the hands of human smugglers. And we all still have recognisable and safe "homes" to return to.
Words define realities. Words are flammable. The fascists burned books. Words can carry the fire of hatred and fear, or spread the warmth of compassion.
The decisions we make regarding how we portray our innermost thoughts can have bigger impacts than we might realise.
And it is the responsibility of all of us, to choose how we use them.
P.S. also, this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7XhrXUoD6U