Some folks in Chattanooga seem to want you to think terrorism is defined in one word: Abdulazeez.
But let's examine that thought.
"There is no indication he [Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez] was inspired by anyone other than himself," said FBI agent Ed Reinhold on the Chattanooga shootings last week that killed five military servicemen. Reinhold is a professional in the investigation of criminal acts.
Still, there seems to be a different local political view — at least among local conservatives.
"When an act of this magnitude takes place — a gunman going to two sites, opening fire, creating havoc, carnage, death at the level that he did — I deem that an act of terrorism," U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, said. "So those are my words."
Fleischmann, who represents the 3rd District, is a professional politician with no experience in investigating criminal acts such as the ones committed by Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
Fleischmann and other Republican politicians in Chattanooga are in a rush to politicize the Abdulazeez shootings. They are quick to inflame passions regardless of whether they speak the truth or know the facts. Such acts of political gamesmanship are counterproductive, particularly before law enforcement has completed its investigation. However, politicians like Fleischmann have little regard for the truth or the investigation into the facts. They are in a rush to judgment because it is more important to cry terrorism for political gain than to find the truth.
Take for example the sad events in Maine where a former convict beat a man, stole guns and a pickup truck before shooting five people, two of them fatally, during a rampage across several northern Maine towns. These events occurred on July 17.
Where is Fleischmann's political outcry about these shootings? Why isn't he declaring the Maine shootings acts of terrorism?
I understand Fleischmann represents Chattanooga. As a congressman, he should comment about events in his home city. However, his Abdulazeez commentary is pure politics. The only differences between what happened in Maine and what happened in Chattanooga are:
* Those who died in Chattanooga are military servicemen.
* The name of the Chattanooga shooter is Abdulazeez.
Seemingly for some local conservative politicians, these two facts make the shooting in Chattanooga "terrorism" when, in fact, both the Maine and Chattanooga shootings are acts of senseless violence. And they are both acts of terror.
Maybe it is better for politicians like Fleischmann to say "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims who died from a senseless shooting using uncontrolled guns to kill. We will let law enforcement find the facts and tell us the story. Until then, we will stand together and pray giving our compassion to the families of those who died."
However, certain politicians have to make political hay of shootings we still do not understand. They make hay by saying:
"I just can't agree that the best we can do is pray for Chattanooga. I think the best we can do is ascertain who our enemies are, whether foreign or domestic, and then kill them. That is what CPD did. What will Barack Hussein Obama do?" That comment came on the public Facebook page of Steve Smith, our Hamilton County Public Defender and also a Republican.
Politicians like Smith and Fleischmann need to quit the political pandering by taking advantage of a horrifically sad event for political gain.
These statements leave me wondering if Fleischmann would call the Chattanooga shootings terror if the name of the shooter was Johnson? Would the Hamilton County Public Defender express his outrage if the shooter was Johnson?
The answer to both questions is no.
Stuart James, a former chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, is a lawyer, political consultant and publisher of theBlog at www.theblogg.org.