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Terrorists are cowards, unworthy of coverage

Let us rebrand terrorism and those who carry it out. Let’s stop calling things like setting off bombs at funerals, or killing innocent children at school or at a mall a “religious war.” These acts are despicable. Let’s not spritz them with the sexy cache of “jihad” in our national conversation.

Those who would harm others in the name of any god or any religion fundamentally disrespect the very thing they claim to promote; they should be branded as thugs and criminals. Their beliefs aren’t selling well in the marketplace of ideas. One defining characteristic of humanity is our ability to share and absorb ideas. But these cowards are so poor in spirit and in fact that they resort to the killing fields. They make a point, obviously. But the prevailing point should not be that we fear them and therefore strive to understand them.

I don’t want to hear news analysts parsing the complaints of the latest cowards from Somalia. I don’t want to know their names or their demands. Let’s call them cowards! Let’s call them out, tell them if they have something to say to the world, they should use their words. Imagine if, instead of coverage of the latest atrocities, the news was framed as “in another act of thuggery and cowardice …” and then the public turns its attention only to the victims, not the perpetrators. How frustrating that would be, if instead of fear, they invoke disgust; if instead of commanding interest in their complaints, the world sneered at their cowardice.

We’ve rebranded things before. Smoking used to be acceptable; now it’s not. We can change the conversation, and that can make a difference.

Kristin Chambers

Hinsdale