How Dare the Government Charge a Teenager with Terrorism?

A 15-year-old has been charged with terrorism after four students died and eight were injured during a school shooting in Oxford, Michigan on November 30th. We don’t know exactly why he did it, but there are so many reasons people can be irrational in this society. Young people today are facing a host of problems that add up to the threat of no future. Young people are faced with ecological collapse due to climate change, the inability of capitalist society to manage COVID, and inadequate resources for employment health, housing, education, and other necessities, but plenty of resources for war!

What sort of society would produce someone whose only way of coping is to shoot other innocent people? It’s a society steeped in inequality that spent 2 trillion dollars on a 20-year war in Afghanistan without addressing the needs of the people in the U.S. or in Afghanistan. Even though that war in Afghanistan is over, the U.S. government continues to try to justify to U.S. citizens an increase in the military budget this year, which the Biden administration has proposed to be the biggest since World War II.

And it’s not just the one school shooting. As of April, 2,510 people had died in mass shootings in the U.S. since 2000. There are more outbursts of violence every day that don’t make the headlines. A society in a constant state of war and preparation for war has produced anxious people. A society that knows the impending threat of climate catastrophe but refuses to do what’s needed to minimize it terrorizes people, some of whom feel compelled to resort to violence of their own.

What sort of society labels a school shooting as terrorism, while continuing to terrorize people with systemic oppression based on class exploitation as well as racism and sexism that threatens their lives? By charging the shooter with terrorism, prosecutors can not only threaten him with more serious punishments, but also continue to sustain a society built on fear. If the prosecutors succeed in this case, they could set a precedent for using cries of “terrorism” to attack not just school shooters, but people fighting for justice – on any issue, from exploitation at work to oppression throughout our communities.

There’s no question why this society would drive so many people to do irrational and dangerous acts. It will continue to do so until we have a society where people’s voices are heard democratically, where everyone has the resources they need for a decent life, where life is free of fear and anxiety, and where people aren’t blaming each other, but rather standing together to fight against the system that sets us against each other! Violence runs rampant in a world with little democracy and steep inequalities. The only solution – the only justice – happens when we fight for the rights of all people around the world to have their needs met and not live lives in fear.