My husband has his morning alarm set up on his phone. A light, jaunty tune plays accompanied by a monotone female voice that first announces the time and then recites the top three news items trending nationally.
I usually lay and listen to this on loop for 5-7 minutes until he finally sits up long enough to tap snooze. It has become a weekday norm. Generic music, automated voice, and top headlines. I listen with my eyes closed and slowly work my way to waking. It provides a strange sort of calm.
Monday morning that peace was broken when the flat electronic voice I've grown accustomed to offered bluntly "50 confirmed dead in Sunday mass shooting at Las Vegas music festival."
I sat up and barked at my husband to turn the alarm off. My stomach curled, and my heart was pounding. It had already been a restless night. Lots of tossing and turning as my brain chose the wee hours of the morning to sort and resolve every minor detail of my beautifully full and complicated life. Those were not the words I was expecting to open my day.
Then as I sat in silence fiercely gripping the edge of my comforter as my husband patted my back in dismay, I realized something worse – yes they were. I did expect for something like that to open the day. Any day.
Deep down I constantly dread this kind of news, and at least once a year some evil force delivers. Masses of people snuffed out in instances that fill their last moments with horror and fear. Terror has been a quiet passenger of mine since 9/11. I was never going to be the same. We were never going to be the same.
As I write this, nothing has been shared about why the shooter did what they did. The 64-year-old was held up in a hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel that overlooked where the country music festival was being held on the Las Vegas strip. It has been reported that he opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor that was stocked with at least 10 rifles.
It ended with him taking his own life. He's been identified, but since this is an opinion column and not a news report, I choose not to put his name in print.
Many of the details are still being sorted, but there is one that I think should not even come into question – this was an act of domestic terrorism.
So far, not a single major news outlet has named this an act of terror. Our president did not name it an act of terror. Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo has stated that until the gunman's motivations have been clarified, they are not going to label what happened an act of terror.
At least 58 confirmed dead as of this writing and over 500 reported injured. How is this not an act of terror? Because of a technical outline defining terror? Because no one can yet point to any connections to Islamic extremists?
We must begin to call this horrendous tragedy and acts like it what they are. It doesn't matter the nationality, religion, or ideology of the perpetrator. It is terrorism.
Think of the numerous lives connected to those slain and injured. The vast and terrible ripple of loss and grief that will push its way through thousands of others for years. For whole lives. The senselessness of it all, regardless of the killer's imagined motives, makes this a clear act of terror.
It is imperative that we reject attempts to dull or whitewash these events. It is a mistake that further desensitizes us from the undercurrent of desperation and violence that is killing us from the inside.Virginia Tech (2007) 32 killed Fort Hood (2009) 13 killed Binghamton, New York (2009) 13 killed Aurora, Colorado (2012) 12 killed Sandy Hook (2012) 26 killed Washington Navy Yard (2013) 12 killed San Bernardino (2015) 14 killed Pulse nightclub (2016) 49 killed Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas (2017) More than 50 killed
Our nation is crying bullets, and the casualties are too high not to label these violent events correctly.
Call it what it is.
Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor of the Miami News-Record. Email her at email@example.com and follower her on Twitter @dm_ballard.