Lost Cause Terrorism

Lost Cause Terrorism

McCann (2006), defines lost cause terrorism as “acts of political violence where members of a group have lost a battle and act out in a final display of defiance or rebellion” (p. 9).  In the United States, one of the earliest and most noteworthy acts of lost cause terrorism was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Much debate has been had on the mental status of the assassin, John Wilks Booth. However, a political assassin cannot be judged merely by the enormity of the crime and then assumed that only a deranged lunatic could commit such an atrocity.

A study of assassins conducted by the Secret Service demonstrated that an “act of political assassination is nearly always the product of an understandable and discernible pattern of thinking and planning, and targeted violence is generally not the product of a derange or mentally ill individual” (McCann, 2006. p. 10).

If you have not yet seen it, Mike Rowe told the story of the assassination of Lincoln on his Facebook under ‘The Way I Heard It’; an interesting story of the similarities of the conditions surrounding Lincoln’s time and present day politics. Some ridiculed Rowe for his comparison of Lincoln and Trump but to that end, he had this to say;

Two Republicans, each of whom believed they were going to lose the election, wound up winning. Each candidate was viscerally hated by half the country, each vowed to transform the border, each treated the press with contempt, and each was considered by many to be a “tyrant.” One hundred and fifty years ago, a lot of Americans were absolutely convinced that Abraham Lincoln was an “illegitimate president.” Many today feel the same about Trump.

This article is not about Trump or Lincoln, but the behavior of those who have resisted change; those few who have so rejected what the rest of the country voted for that they are willing to terrorize a nation for their lost cause. This article is about terrorism for the sake of egoism. Terrorism based on the inability to obtain one’s idealistic ways. A violent temper tantrum, if you will.

Freedom of speech is something that many of my family members and close friends have fought for, and even more, have sacrificed their lives to defend. I am a staunch supporter of such rights, as well as the right to protest. However, the idea that the right to protest encompasses the destruction of property, obstruction of major roadways, violence, assault, and inciting riots among other criminal acts; is ludicrous.

As a member of the security industry, I can assure you that my goal is to protect those who are at risk from these few but destructive groups that believe their actions are protected by the Constitution of the United States. Let me assure you; they are not. Terrorism, according to the FBI is the “unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”  These violent protesters and their acts of civil discord do, in fact, fall within this description. It is important that we begin calling it what it is so that our response to the threat is appropriate.


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