The Austin kamikaze pilot will cause some buzz with his rambling manifesto, which seems to touch on almost every hot button grievance around except hopenchange or radical Islam.
After past violent attacks the administration has been quick to scold about jumping to conclusions, so it'll be interesting to see if they comment here. Stack sounds a little like Amy Bishop in that both were degreed professionals and relatively intelligent and both planned their snaps, although Bishop was probably more delusional since she didn't intend to suicide herself. Like most wanna-be snap killers both were cowards and projected their failures onto the "system" or evil individuals holding them back, which provides the necessary rationalization for murder. That's quite similar to Islamic terrorists aside from their misinterpreted holy book used to provide cosmic moral authority.
But are they terrorists or just isolated extremists, or just common criminals? Stack's letter was meant as a call to action for a violent uprising much like Osama's 1998 fatwa, although he wasn't necessarily addressing any particular group. Bishop was more self-centered--both were very selfish. But she seemed more interested in getting specific individuals, whereas he used an airplane as a weapon just like Mohammed Atta with the intention of killing as many unknown innocents as possible.
My conclusion--both Stack and Bishop are true violent lone wolf extremists, but not terrorists insofar as they don't have a cause and movement behind their actions, although Stack comes closer than Bishop. What will the administration call them?
I mentioned Amy Bishop because the mainstream media treated her story like any other lone nut with a grievance story, undoubtedly because she was a lefty. Now that we have someone who's not an avowed leftist they have quickly reverted back to advocacy journalism.
Meanwhile, from what I witnessed Olby held his tongue tonight, although he allowed Arianna Huffington to use the term 'playing with fire and matches' when discussing the GOP's interaction with the tea partiers, who apparently beat up a few Olby pinatas at CPAC today. Don't they realize the kamikaze guy was railing about the lack of universal health care?
It might seem crass to argue semantics while people grieve but the distinction is important as to how these events are handled and mitigated going forward. The president and many on the left were quick not to jump on the 'terrorist' definition for the Little Rock gunman, Major Hasan, or the underbomber despite the rather obvious connections. That portrayal suggested an administration trying to downplay domestic Islamic terrorism and its possible connection to the international version dedicated to the destruction of western civilization. Even if Stack turns out to be connected to an anti-government group he still wasn't trying to bring on the downfall of our way of life.
From Raw Story, here's CNN's Rick Sanchez debating a law enforcement official in Texas over the distinction between criminal/extremist and terrorist, to which the official points out that if Stack did the same act in Iraq we would call him a suicide bomber terrorist. Sanchez nods.
But would we? Based on what we know, if Joe Stack took his plane to Iraq and crashed into the green zone and we later found a twisted manifesto on the web stating his long hatred for Bush for the Iraq war, with no reference to Islam, bin Laden, Israel, or caliphates, I think most people would still call him an isolated extremist, not a suicide terrorist.