Saturday, 25 May 2013

Terror is . . .

The other day, a pair of Islamic terrorists savagely murdered a British soldier in the South-East London area. I'm not going to talk about it because it really doesn't deserve it. I'm not denying the worth of the man's life, but I am denying and decrying the publicity of the murderers because I see that by watching these videos and spreading these images we are in fact letting terrorism get the best of us.
More on that in a bit, but firstly it seems that there are some people who don't seem to know what terrorism means. I know, because there was an online article from the Guardian (a UK newspaper) asking the question of whether or not the attack was terrorism at all. The writer of the article, Glenn Greenwald, argues that the United States is often killing unarmed civilians with their unmanned drones in Afghanistan, and since we don't call that terrorism, how can we call this terrorism?
Mr Greenwald, your heart is in the right place, and I respect what you're trying to do. But we really need to have a little talk. The Word of the Day is: 'TERRORISM'.

Terrorism /'terǝrizǝm/ n. 1. The use of terrorising methods: The enemy gained control by terrorism. 2. A method of fighting a government or governing by acts of armed violence.

I'll also include a second definition, just so we're perfectly clear here.

Terrorize = Terrorise /'terǝruyz/ v.t. 1. To fill or overcome with terror. 2. To control or force by the use of terror.

Terrorism is pretty nasty. In fact, that's the whole point. The very goal of terrorism is to commit acts so horrible that they force people, especially those in government, to pay attention. They are committed by those in a position of weakness. That's not an insult, it's a fact.
Without political strength, weapons technology & numbers on their side, soldiers are forced to fight using guerrilla warfare. They use small groups of people to do quick missions designed to do as much damage as possible. As I see it, terrorism is a form of guerrilla politics. Without a president, king or queen on their side & without news media or offices of propaganda to spread their message, soldiers use terrorism in the same way on the political battlefield.
They commit these heinous crimes, creating as much damage as they can with a single act so that they can get your attention. They do this to make you listen to them, because they want to control you through fear.

The interesting thing is, despite how much people detest terrorism and hate what it does, it keeps working. How many times have news programs shown the footage of this latest terrorist? How many times has this been the top story on a news program? And how many more times will we here a follow-up story involving the investigation into the murder, the recovery of the terrorists & the response of the politicians?
As much as we'd like to believe that we can stand strong in the face of terrorism, the fact that we're even listening to these people proves that they are getting our attention. They are controlling us through fear.

That's why I know that Mr Greenwald doesn't know what he's talking about, and doesn't know what terrorism is. Because the truth is that the only reason he is even asking this question and debating this topic is because of this terrorist act. Do you know what that means?
A young soldier dies on a civilian street, and two days later a newspaper journalist is debating the ethics of War: Cause and Effect.
In essence, this brutal murder has become just another sentence in the political conversation between the two sides of this conflict. This means that the terrorists got what they wanted. They got our attention. Are we saying that terrorism is a valid form of communication? Is this setting a precedent for future terrorists to get our attention? I don't know. I guess we'll find out.
But one thing is for sure, this is Terrorism.

But I haven't covered the second point, which is in my opinion the more valid point:
  What about us? Are we too the terrorists, here?
Mr Greenwald argues that any murder of a civilian by a soldier is an act of terrorism. I don't agree, but as I said his heart's in the right place. Because as far as I'm concerned, this is a semantic issue. Killing a civilian may not be terrorism, but it is wrong on a different scale. Then I have to ask about the bigger picture . . .
Soldiers running through your country with advanced technology and killing people with no provocation and with no way to defend yourself? That's goddamn terrifying! I don't know what it's like or if message of these heartless slaughters spreads from one town to another, but I'm sure the civilians of the Iraq war are afraid of the attacking soldiers. Is this not terrorism?

I've thought about it, and studied the etymology carefully, and I've come to the conclusion that, yet again, this is not 'terrorism'. I'm not saying that America has never undertaken terrorist missions, I'm sure they have. But I'm talking about the big picture, and looking at the war as a whole, I believe that it is much worse than mere terrorism.
I understand terrorism. It is trying to do something, trying to communicate something. As disgusting as it is, it is none the less a means to an end for a political agenda; but these American soldiers, unmanned drones and battle machines are not utilizing this terror to accomplish something. They aren't fighting a political battle, they have politicians for that! Rather, the terror here is merely a symptom of the much larger disease.
Because this isn't terrorism. It's termination.

So, the question is not so much "Who is the Terrorist?", but rather, "Who are we to Judge?"
News journalists have called this act of terrorism 'brutal', 'savage', 'barbaric', 'horrible' and 'criminal'; because it happened on a city street. But death is death, whether it happens on a battlefield or a boulevard.
I don't approve of misused language, especially when you're trying to argue a valid point, but I think this is the point that Mr Greenwald, and now I, myself, are trying to make:

 Terrorism is nasty business; but so too is counter-terrorism.

I have never understood the Iraq War, the War on Terror or any of this nonsense, really. I'm sure that people have justifications for it, and I'm sure that there's a lot of politics behind it. I don't know, I don't care.
All I know is that there are a lot of victims on both sides, and at this point in the conflict, it's seems like the Western side is the bigger bully. So much of this 'collateral damage' is done intentionally that I know civilian casualties can be reduced, and I hope something will happen to that effect.

But, as I have always said, I'm a narrator not a dictator. I may change your mind, but I am not trying to change the world. So on that note, until next time, I'm going to be thinking about the meaning of the word 'WAR'.

I'll get back to you on that as soon as I understand it, but it could take a while . . .

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