Dangerous Distortions: Our leaders do us a disservice when they conflate terrorism with tragedy.

With each terrorist attack—from Fort Hood, to Brussels, to Paris, to San Bernardino, to Orlando—the Obama administration and the press provoke moral confusion by calling it a “tragedy.” Tragedy in the classical sense means that mysterious, divine forces stronger than we are ultimately determine our fate. That is to say, tragedy means unavoidable fate, like that which befell Oedipus. One can’t fight fate. To act against it is foolishness. But a calamity traceable to preventable human actions is not tragedy.

By calling terrorist attacks tragedies, Obama implies that citizens should accept terrorism as though it were compelled by the universe.