Oh, the Terror(ism)!

What follows is a reply to another blog post here. This reply was posted in the comments.

Should we argue semantics? Get all hung up on the “true” meanings of words? Yes. It’s why we have them.

It’s why Charles Manson was a mass-murderer. Son of Sam a serial killer. Why guys who get tired of delivering the mail “go postal.”

We have so many words to describe things, you really need to look at why.

There are definitely double standards, which I think was the point of this post.

When the Ft. Hood shootings happened, when it became public knowledge that the shooter’s last name was Hassan, immediately the media was filled with “was this an act of terrorism?” His shouting, “glory to god” (I believe the translation of Allah Akbar) didn’t help matters.

Did anyone call the VA Tech shooter a terrorist? He wasn’t white. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t born here, either.

There have been other school shootings, since Columbine, and since 9-11 – they are sadly almost cliche. How many of them were labeled “terrorism?”

I’ll also point out that when that small private plane crashed into an apartment building in Manhattan (it killed a baseball player – I’m too lazy to look up details), “terrorism” was the initial, unqualified, panicked response, as people there are still a bit edgy about planes flying into buildings. (turned out someone just fucked up)

People who protested the last presidential administration were labeled “terrorists,” or at the very least terrorist sympathizers. What terror did they instill – in anyone other than elected officials?

The riots in LA after the Rodney King verdict – terrorism? Or rioting?

We have violence. We have crime. We have violent crime. We also, now, have legally defined “hate crimes.” Beating up someone for being gay – terrorism? I know for a fact a lot of homosexuals who might otherwise come out to their communities don’t for fear of physical assault, among other things. They live in constant fear.

All bigots are terrorists? The KKK certainly did a lot to instill fear in black communities. There are, sadly, very many white-supremacist groups. They are organized. They have a political and social agenda. They use violence and fear of more violence to convey their message. Perhaps their time has come to be labeled appropriately?

Violence directed (rightly or no) against a government office – terrorism? With what message? “We’re going to resist paying more taxes!” or was it, “I’m destroying everything and I’m taking you with me!”

At risk of going off on a tangent, do I think taxes are fair? The way they’re currently levied, no. The tax burden is ridiculously upside down in this country. But I do believe in taxation. We all live in a community, a society, and derive a benefit from that, and we all need to contribute to that to make it work for all of us. I like roads. I like schools. I like police and fire departments. I believe those who derive the largest benefit should contribute the largest amount. That would be the corporations that have judicial and legislative systems that create and enforce laws for their benefit.

The clerk, who wanted a secure job with a pension, checking to see if your returns were filled out properly, is not evil incarnate (typically) and does not deserve to be murdered.

If you attend an organized protest of the wars in Afghanistan, you can, under the PATRIOT act, be grabbed up off the street, held as an “enemy combatant,” without bail, without advice of an attorney, subjected to “enhanced interrogation” such as water boarding, even though you’re a US citizen, all without being charged with anything other than being a suspected “terrorist.”

A guy flying a plane into an IRS building in a fit of destructive, violent, homicidal rage? I wouldn’t be too quick to apply the term “terrorist” to him. Throwing labels around like that and some of them might bounce back and stick.

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