Tuesday, June 5

Steven has an excellent essay on terrorism.

I take a little exception with his definition of terms. To me, the broad term he defines as terrorism, sowing disruption and discord, would be defined as something more like ‘resistance’, broken down into sub-categories like ‘non-violent resistance’ and ‘violent resistance’, the latter including terrorism. But that’s a small distinction. Still, it seems that ‘terrorism’ is best defined as ‘using terror as a weapon’.

Steven’s essay gives me occasion to write something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: Terrorism sometimes gets a bad rap. Or, to put it another way, terrorism isn’t what you think.

Let me explain. Terrorists often act in that way because they feel they have no other recourse. And that is often functionally true. Think about how few nations and people-groups have a voice with the US. Could they affect change by conventional, legal means if they wanted to? No.

What’s more, our inattention, or the inattention of the global community, can amount to violence. We sell arms to Israel unrestrictedly, but ask them not to kill Palestinian civilians. Guess what. They do anyway.

US corporations perpetrate crimes with violent outcomes (say, for example, unsafe working conditions) on all kinds of people.

Who can un-hypocritically blame people who react violently?

So, to go back to my intentionally controversial statement: Terrorism sometimes gets a bad rap. Maybe illegal, violent reaction against civilians is sometimes reasonable in response to ‘legal’ violent action against civilians.

I say ‘reasonable’. The Christian ethic which I profess seeks to go beyond what is reasonable. But I’m trying to work here within the boundaries of what might be a typical, common sense ethic.

And the other statement: Terrorism isn’t what you think. Maybe our government and our corporations commit de facto terrorism all the time. Are How can you reasonably argue with violent retaliation?

This argument, of course, extends to other governments in similar situations.

What do you think?
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