The Language of Violence


There’s no consensus over the interpretation of terrorism throughout the world, and for good excuse. People generally use the word instrumentally, in order to delegitimise actors they don’t like, or they’ll withhold use of the term in order to legitimise actors they do like. Despite of these arguments, it cannot be denied that the language of violence is unacceptable in every distinct corner of the world. One such act which introduced itself as a protest evolved into the counterpart in the matter of micro seconds.


Several white nationalist rallies in Virginia devolved into violence that culminated when a man drove his car into a group of counter-protestors, exterminating one and crippling dozens more. In the wake of the protest, various officials have referred to the events by myriad descriptors, including domestic violence and other assaults. The Justice Department declared the launching of an investigation into the deadly crash as a credible civil rights violation.


Three Northeastern University faculty members, whose expertise encompasses constitutional law, hate crimes, and terrorism, weigh in. Assistant professor Max Abrahms, who studies international security and terrorism, terms the events as “unquestionably terrorism”. Margaret Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law and founder of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, breaks down the Justice Department investigation and noted that “the demonstration in Virginia was abhorrent but it wasn’t scandalous.” And Jack McDevitt, associate dean for research in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and director of the Institute on Race and Justice, elucidated that the driver of the car can be accused for both the state and federal level laws.


Harminder Singh




Harminder Singh
Harminder Singh


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