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When 'terror' doesn't mean 'terrorism'

The public conversation loses something when terror – a human emotion – becomes an all-purpose synonym for terrorism, a political or ideological tactic.


A running shoe with a sign that says 'No more killing people...Peace' hangs on a police barricade in remembrance of those killed and injured in the Boston Marathon bombing at a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, on April 22, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/TCSM

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Here we are again, on the rebound from another act of senseless violence and sifting through our taxonomy of terror. The Boston Marathon bombings were an act of terror – but were they an act of ?

In the days since the twin blasts hit Boylston Street – Boston's front parlor – the response from both officialdom and the public has been marked, in the main, by restraint and resilience. As President Obama said, quoting Scripture in his powerfully moving speech in Boston, people have shown not "a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

To restate the obvious, just for the record: There is much that we don't know yet, and much that we may not ever know.


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