by Abby Gray ’18
On Nov. 13, 2015, multiple suicide bombers launched an attack in Paris that killed 130 people and injured 388 more. The attack was covered extensively around the world by the news media and social media.
Since Paris, the terrorist attack count has rapidly climbed, with each new attack on Western cities around Europe and the United States instilling fear in citizens. Attacks in the United States include the killing of 49 people at an Orlando nightclub and the death of 14 caused by ISIS members who carried out a mass shooting and attempted bombing at at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA.
Just last year, the impact of attacks hit close to home for Upper Arlington students after a man who claimed allegiance to ISIS ran his vehicle into a crowd of students. He attempted to stab students with a knife at The Ohio State University, just minutes away from Upper Arlington High School. Senior Minjue Wu was on the OSU campus for college-level classes during the attack.
“One [student] received a notification about a shooter on campus,” Wu said. “None of us moved because the situation was so bizarre until a professor came upstairs with about 50 students and shooed us into a nearby room.”
While the fear of terrorism and a lesser sense of safety still peaks after a terrorist attack either in Europe or at home in the States, the more frequent the attacks, the less students believe the media is covering these tragedies. Current Political Problems teacher Kim Brown made a comparison between the coverage of terrorist attacks, and the coverage of recent natural disasters.“Hurricane Harvey got lots of attention from the media, Irma not so much. Now barely anyone’s talking about Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico. It’s the same with these reoccurring terrorist attacks,” Brown said.
Some students wonder if the high frequency of attacks is desensitizing people to their severity, making these tragedies a normality in modern society. Senior Maggie Morris has noticed this change in reactions towards terrorism.
“I feel that we are genuinely desensitized to terror attacks due to their frequency. It becomes the norm, much like how UAHS students are used to spontaneous fire alarms,” Morris said.
Brown believes part of this desensetivity could be due to the fact that the U.S. and Europe are far apart, creating disconnection from tragedies that happen in Europe and the citizens here in the U.S.
“I think for a lot of people Europe feels very far away,” Brown said, “so unless they’ve been there or know people there, they don’t have a connection, so it’s harder to feel the effects [of the attack].”
On Oct. 1, a man who was staying at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, NV, broke his hotel room window, and opened fire down on the attendees of Vegas’s anual Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. Although the shooting lasted only 11 minutes, it became the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. History after the shooter killed 58 people and injured over 500 before killing himself.
Previous mass shootings in the U.S. such as the San Bernardino and Orlando masacres, were quickly labeled terrorist attacks after victims motives were found to be clearly political. There has been controversy regarding hesitance to label the tragedy in Vegas a terrorist attack. While the shooter’s motives remain unclear, many argue that the situation should be labeled terrorism regardless of his motives. Others, including celebrities, have taken to social media to announce they believe the attack is not being labeled terrorism because the shooter was Caucasian. TV personality Piers Morgan tweeted a statement on this controversy.
“If the shooter was Muslim, we’d call this a terrorist attack. This was a terrorist attack, committed by a 64-year-old white American,” Morgan tweeted. Senior Maggie Morris believes that the Las Vegas shooting was an act of domestic terrorism.
“Senseless violence was used to induce fear and terror indiscriminately in civilians resulting in the loss of over 50 lives,” Morris said. “Although no motive has been identified, I feel that the intentional mass murder of United States’ citizens, no matter by whom, must be qualified as terrorism, seeing as the people of this country were specifically targeted.” As for where to go from here as a nation and as individuals, Brown believes we need to start having more conversations, and more understanding instead of villianizing those who disagree with us, from politics to terrorism.
“We have moved away from the ability to say to people, ‘let’s agree to disagree’ because we don’t listen anymore. It’s hard to have conversations with people whose opinions are different, but we have to learn how to respect their opinions,” Brown said. “If we can’t learn how to be civil with one another, what’s the hope for our future?”