A Rebuttal to ASUCR’s “Route 91 Festival Terror Attack” Statement

When you hold a position of power and sway, it is of the utmost importance that when you produce official statements you do so with clarity and accuracy. Unfortunately, while clear, the statement released by ASUCR regarding the Route 91 mass-shooting was inaccurate at best, and purposefully misleading at worst.

Aram Ayra, the author of this statement and the president of ASUCR, writes that the Nevada shooter’s “[…]motives have still not been confirmed by investigators”, which is an accurate statement, one I draw no issue with. However not even four more sentences into this abortion of a heartfelt condolence he contradicts himself saying that this was an “act of domestic terrorism”.

No. It wasn’t. Let’s review the definition of domestic terrorism, shall we?

“Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.” — FBI

Pay close attention to the last part of the definition: “in furtherance of political or social objectives”. Objective, according to my handy thesaurus, is synonymous to… motive. How can this be an act of terrorism when the motive of the perpetrator is still not know? Long story short, it can’t be.

Ayra continues to write “the Las Vegas shootings are a loud and clear reminder that gun reform should and must happen in this country”. He postulates that revisions to “ open-carry, no license required gun laws” would be an effective way to curb violence and death. This is a strange sentiment given that, while Nevada has legal open-carry, such a law is entirely irrelevant in reference to the Route 91 shooter, as he transported all his guns by illegally concealing them, violating the legal requirement for a concealed-carry permit. So even if the changes Ayra wants made were enacted, it wouldn’t have changed anything here.

Then, in the following paragraph, Ayra switches from simply ignoring reality and objective truth to actively trying to obfuscate and hijack the already loaded term “terrorism”.

“We must come to terms with the fact that terrorism has no religion, no race and no nationality. Terrorism in any form, from any person living within the United States or anywhere should not be condoned, rationalized or explained away.”

Well Ayra the first line is the first thing you’ve said that I can agree with. You’re correct, race, religion, and nationality do not play any role in determining what is terrorism. But you know what does? Motives, creeds, and manifestos. Three things that are still strangely missing from this case, as our nation’s top investigative units have failed to identify anything meaningful.

So Ayra, could you please stop abusing the term terrorism and allow the people who understand what it means to use it? But since it seems that you like it so much, I’ll point you to several instances of violence where the phrase “terrorism” is appropriate:

A white man traveled Maryland to New York solely so he could “kill black men”, a motive he admitted to when he turned himself in.

Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan rammed his vehicle into the stadium at Ohio State who injured 13 people, two of which he stabbed with a butcher knife. Law enforcement officials found him to have posted angry statuses on Facebook regarding US-Islamic relations and to have consumed radical Islamist propaganda as well as, thus revealing a manifesto.

In 2015, two California residents, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, shot up a Christmas party, killing 14 individuals and injuring 22 more. They used modified semi-automatic rifles (effectively making them automiatic) and pistols with high-capacity magazines (a testament to how little strict gun-control laws in California have done to safeguard our fellow citizens). The FBI swiftly determined that the pair had been inspired by Islamic extremists from abroad as they professed their beliefs on social media prior to committing their crimes, establishing their creed.

But, Ayra, if that’s not enough to talk about, there’s plenty more I can show you. And boy, just wait till you hear about all the legitimate terrorism that occurs outside the U.S! I have a whole list of these horrible events that I’m sure will scratch your terrorism itch.

Does it make you uncomfortable, or even offend when I make light of gruesome events that result in life-altering injuries and death? Does it make you uneasy when I use all that human suffering to make a point, even one that might be worth making? Yes? Then realize just how infuriating it is to see an ideologically loaded email like this in my inbox. Do not think even for a single second that your reputation goes unscathed, Aram Ayra, and don’t doubt that we can all see through your vacuous “sympathies”.

So I’ll do what ASUCR failed to; I’ll ask you, my readers, my peers, and my critics to set aside your differences, all of them, and come together as human beings such that we can actually begin to make progress and overcome tragedies such as this. True peace can only come through understanding and unity, and no amount of blaming, finger pointing, and cries for legal overhauls will get us closer to that.

Here’s the complete statement for those who wish to read it in its entirety.

Dear Highlanders,

Like many of you, I am still reeling from the horrifying act of domestic terrorism that took place last night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over fifty innocent people died and another five hundred were wounded at the hands of terrorist Stephen Paddock, whose motives have still not been confirmed by investigators. I offer my sincerest condolences and send my thoughts and prayers to those affected by these gruesome events. I realize that no words that I can offer right now could come close to filling the void left in those who have lost loved ones and friends in these senseless killings. I offer them anyway, because love and compassion are sorely needed in the wake of this tragedy.

I also realize, that while love & compassion are important, they will do nothing to stop future mass killings and acts of domestic terrorism. The Las Vegas shootings are a loud and clear reminder that gun reform should and must happen in this country. A large portion of the American people have stood by & watched in silence as atrocities like these have become essentially regular occurrences, normalizing the brutal cycle of gun-related violence. We must be loud and firm in calling upon our legislators and especially legislators in states with open-carry, no license required gun laws, to act swiftly in the wake of these killings. We must urge the politicians we chose to represent us to pass the necessary reforms that will put us on the road to fixing gun culture in this country.

Along with the conversations surrounding gun reform, we must make an concerted effort to shift the flawed conceptions surrounding terrorism. We must come to terms with the fact that terrorism has no religion, no race and no nationality. Terrorism in any form, from any person living within the United States or anywhere should not be condoned, rationalized or explained away.

As we begin the long process of healing, I ask my fellow Highlanders to stay strong and compassionate & to not stop advocating for our country to become a safer place. Times like these call for us to stand strong & unite together in the face of overwhelming devastation, and make a determined push to prevent something like this from happening again.

I stand with the victims of the Route 91 Festival terror attack. I can only hope that people who have chosen to close their eyes to previous gun-related tragedies will have open hearts & minds in the aftermath of this one.

With deepest sympathy & prayers for all the victims,

Aram Ayra

ASUCR President

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