On #OregonUnderAttack and #YallQaeda: Stop calling everyone a terrorist

A more responsible left-leaning commentator, the historian of student activism Angus Johnston, expressed some misgivings on Twitter about such broad use of the term terrorists, but nonetheless maintained that the ranchers’ “threats of political violence against state agents strike me as unambiguously terroristic.”

They strike me as unambiguously foolish and crazy. But keep in mind that the origins of the current standoff can be traced to the government’s treatment of the Hammonds, who were re-sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five years in prison under federal anti-terrorism laws—even though the initial judge in the case said such a lengthy sentence for two counts of arson would “shock his conscience.”

In any case, everyone who opposes government-sanctioned violence should remember that unfounded concerns about terrorism are the health of the state. Lowering the bar for what counts as terrorism is not a winning move for critics of authoritarianism and unconstitutional exercises of police power.