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Terminology and Terrorism

I like getting the language right. As noted before, many politicians who slap the label “Conservative” on themselves just don’t rate that term. It’s a label with an honorable history and a sophisticated political theory behind it. Clowns like Trump and Cruz are really aligning themselves with a position known more accurately as “Fascism.”

But what’s annoying me today isn’t what folks are calling themselves but what the media are tagging them as. Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite pundits. He writes, often compellingly, from the left, and this essay is brilliant except for committing that nominal sin.

He calls the Ammon Bundy gang of misguided pseudo-individualists “terrorists.” They aren’t. They haven’t committed an act of terrorism. They might end up in a violent confrontation down the road out of sheer stupidity but they’re not using classical terrorist tactics.

There are real terrorists, mostly in the Middle East and mostly killing their own. Let’s reserve the term for them. Using it for a bunch of well-groomed chaps with polished guns currently freezing their butts off on the high desert plains of Oregon cheapens the term and strips it of its meaning.


Reader Comments (1)

Thought compelling and well-intended. You pulled me to the fence on this with your argument. However, I do fear there are racial and ethnic stereotypes which trigger the use of "terrorist" more than others. For instance, when we say the world "terrorism," what's the typical image that comes up? Presumably, it's a young Arabic man.
One must ask if these yokels who seized property in Oregon were instead Muslim-looking, would we parse the language? Ireland produced thousands of terrorists over a 36 year period who conducted some similar acts. In my view, the very THREAT of violence against law enforcement WHILE heavily armed crosses over into a terrorist would-be terrorists.
Ipso facto, I don't believe one must COMMIT an act of violence to be a terrorist. Behaving like one and making threats like one, in my belief, is enough.
That said, I do agree we should not use disparaging terminology so loosely.

January 9, 2016 | Unregistered Commenternolandalla

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