WordNet defines terrorism as "the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear."
When we think of terrorism, we usually envision a suicide bomber or a mass shooter or perhaps someone who hijacks a plane and flies it into a skyscraper. But there's another, even more dangerous, kind of terrorist: The terrorist who exploits such acts for political gain.
Last week's attack in San Bernardino is bringing the latter kind of terrorist out of the woodwork.
US president Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton agree that the 2nd Amendment's right to keep and bear arms, and the 5th Amendment's due process guarantee, have to go. They want Congress to forbid the sale of firearms to anyone whose name shows up on a secret US government enemies list (the "no fly" list).
Republican front-runner Donald Trump wants to prevent any and all adherents of a major world religion from entering the US. Yes, even if they were born here and are traveling abroad when his ban takes effect. No, he's not kidding.
Clinton and Trump agree that the Internet is just too free and open and that something needs to be done about individual privacy and freedom of speech.
Clinton wants to crack down on the use of encryption, bitterly bemoaning the pesky ol' Constitution that stands in her way: "You're going to hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, et cetera ""
Trump seems to think he can just call up Bill Gates about "closing that Internet up in some way." His one regret matches Clinton's: "Somebody will say, 'oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech'."
Darn right we will.
Let's not mince words here: Clinton and Trump -- as well as most of their fellow aspirants to the presidency -- are "terrorists".
They're working overtime to instill fear in us, based on the use, threat or fear of violence. They piggyback their demagoguery on the actions of other terrorists to intimidate us into giving up our freedoms and giving them unlimited power.
We shouldn't negotiate with terrorists. And we certainly shouldn't reward "terrorists" with the keys to the White House.