This is the time of year when you will hear some people lamenting that our remembrance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks has gone by the wayside.
But no one who was at least 10 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, can possibly forget the chaos, confusion, anger, raw grief and fear. On that sunny morning, the world as we’d always known it was no more.
Anyone who was even remotely aware back then remembers that, for a time at least, we came together as one people.
What we’re less likely to recall are the details of the dozens of terror attacks that have occurred since 9/11 because they were never classified as such. That doesn’t make them any less true.
We’re less apt to remember them because there have been so many, they’ve started to blend together. We can’t keep up.
But the mass killings of innocent people, whether it occurs on an Army base, in a movie theater, a gay nightclub, at an employee holiday party or on a campus all qualify as acts of terror.
The killings of nine unsuspecting Americans during a Bible study by a man who shouldn’t have had access to a gun but did because someone blew the paperwork was an act of terror.
The specter of thousands of music fans huddled together in Las Vegas waiting to be shot down by an unseen assailant fits the definition of terrorism any way you cut it.
The math of mass murders that have occurred since Sept. 11, 2001, makes the argument that terror has seeped into the American fabric and proves that we have much more to fear from our fellow Americans than from the likes of ISIS.
Across the country, police have expressed much more concern about homegrown, non-Muslim extremism than about al-Qaeda. As we see in certain parts of Chicago, as we just saw in Jacksonville and in Cincinnati, you have a much greater chance of being shot by another American than being blown to bits by some foreign religious fanatic in a bomb vest.
Today, however, news of a mass attack has a shorter shelf life than milk, even if the victims are children.
There were many who thought — hoped — the slaughter of 6-year-olds at Sandy Hook would be our cultural tipping point. Not only have there have been 1,606 more mass shootings since 2012, the parents of those children still are being harassed by “truthers” — another kind of domestic terrorist whose weapons of choice are paranoia, lies and propaganda.
Seventeen years after Osama bin Laden struck at this country’s heart and soul, the most likely perpetrator of terror in 2018 is one of us. Familiarity not only breeds contempt, it also causes blindness, resulting in our describing domestic terrorists as troubled, their acts driven by mental illness.
In his research, Dr. Michael Stone, a Columbia University forensic psychiatrist and author of “The Anatomy of Evil,” found that just two of 10 mass shooters demonstrated a serious mental illness.
Our concern only seems to linger when the perpetrator appears to be an “other.” There’s no way jihadists would have been able to conduct a torchlight parade through an American city with impunity the same way neo-Nazis did in Charlottesville, Va.
Such selective outrage is not only naive, it’s also dangerous.
We will never forget those who were killed in New York, Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon. They were a part of us. But we would be remiss to pretend terror is not being born and bred right here on our shores.
Charita M. Goshay is a columnist for GateHouse Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.