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How should the U.S. government define terrorism?
Two weeks ago, on April 15, two bombs exploded at the finish line during the Boston Marathon, leaving three people dead and injured at least 250. It was a horrific act that brought the nation together in support of the families of the victims as well as the Boston community. As the aftermath unfolded, questions were raised whether this was a terrorist attack or not.
As Howard Koplowitz mentions in his article in the International Business Times, "When he addressed the country around 6:15 p.m. EDT, President Barack Obama was criticized in some circles for not using the words 'terrorism' or 'terror' to describe the explosions that rocked Copley Square during the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon….But just 15 minutes later, the Obama administration said the twin bombings were 'acts of terror.'"
Consequently, this shift in identification of the act raises questions about the way our government defines terrorism. In the 1980s, during the Reagan Administration, journalists and scholars claimed that perhaps the definition of "terrorism" is quite subjective, depending on a person's political point of view. Clarence Page wrote in a Chicago Tribune article in May 1986, "When President Reagan decided to use the term 'freedom fighters' to describe the Nicaraguan contras, he fell into an old word trap. One person`s 'freedom fighter' is someone else`s 'terrorist.'" Page references that both geographic location and ideology factor into the definition of "terrorism."