The following is a guest post by Gene Burmington.
For the past ten years, terrorism has been a very popular word. But what exactly is it? If I or you truly knew, the United Nations would worship us as a hero for condensing one term from their official definition of several manuals to just one sentence.
As a rule, people assume terrorism means violence directed at civilians for political gain (or destruction of freedom). What it overlooks is that people then assume from there that only Muslims are capable of terroristic threatening. Radical agendas are declared by everyone who uses fear to get what they want. What is the difference between terrorism before and after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union? Muslims help us so they are freedom fighters, yet when America does the same thing, their response is now seen as terrorism?
Americans, who have popularized the term itself, do not see the bigger picture because the media only has one side and sensationalizes this word unto a pedestal as hated and despised as 'pedophile', 'atheist', and others. Words turned into a vehicle for emotion and tainted into ignorant simplicity are loaded and cannot possibly be given to reason.
The side the media ignores is a view which is not American nor kind. Our goal is to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, but the real question is if the people of those countries want that government or even our help. Case in point, the average Muslim in such countries doesn't have much stock in the government with either a tyranny or a democracy as long as their lives go unmolested and there is enough to eat. The more developed a country is, the more prone to boredom the populace is. Boredom implies lack of work or vital thoughtless tasks to perform, so politics as farmers and the lower class understand it doesn't affect them.
If there is any real reason for lingering in the Middle East, it's a two-fold dilemma: America faced a great moment of shame by pulling out of Vietnam on the verge of victory. Later reports indicate that Ho Chi Minh's regular army was basically destroyed by the Tet Offensive failure, but what we learn by Sun Tzu is that perceived failure of one side can be the implied success in the other, so it ultimately comes to wills and conviction to fight, which the American media utterly destroyed by airing footage of Vietcong in the major cities of South Vietnam despite the fact that our troops overpowered them. In this motive, America does not want to lose face in abdicating the original long-term goal of the region.
The second reason is our sacrifices; the money and blood spent in making a pointless conflict into one that has a purpose. I don't want to put down our troops; they're fantastic, brave guys. Instead, my point is that after losing so much, what horror it would be if we pulled out and accomplished nothing except for the main goal of killing two major enemies of America.
Taking that into account, I want something to be made clear: no country wants to be occupied and told what to do. America is the first modern example, as we defied the rule of the British to self-govern. Self-government typically comes as a result of colonists seeing themselves less as members of their own country and more as members of a new country. We stopped calling ourselves British, colonists, and loyalists to the crown when we decided that self-government as a start to a new identity was best.
One Muslim woman interviewed for a film defining terrorism said something to the effect of 'what would you do if I took the key to your house and occupied it?' I doubt you'd be hospitable to a stranger in your house; you'd treat them like a burglar and shoot them.
Thus, we are taken back to the original point of this post: what really, is terrorism? Perhaps to Muslims, Americans and Israeli's are terrorists? They certainly are terrorized by the bombs and guns going off right by their houses. Is a terrorist only as America sees it, or are we missing a bigger picture by not including our own allies into the criteria?
"The testimonies include details of beatings and detaining Palestinians for checks without reason and making them sit or squat in uncomfortable positions. According to one troubling testimony, a soldier who gets annoyed at the sight of a Palestinian farmer whipping his donkey decides to ride the man and give him a taste of the same. The soldiers describe a constant stream of settler violence and vandalism against Palestinians, some of which is captured on the extensive camera system through which the IDF monitors what happens in the city. But if the report is correct, the footage is rarely turned over to the police to prosecute settlers."
— By Ilene R. Prusher, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / April 25, 2008
Can we not say that America endorsed a regime of terrorism by bombing civilians in a shallow attempt to win the second world war? If terrorism is defined by violence directed towards the helpless, this is the most telling example. Yet, bombing of innocent people by America, Great Britain, and Germany is not categorized by this term. In fact, terrorism only surfaced with its intense connotation after 9/11. Before that time, no one was really fazed by the word until it was strongly applied to any act of violence to disrupt civilian operations or inflict non-military casualties and damage.
Even the whole stereotype of terrorist is completely wrong. What most Americans assume is that a Muslim of deep Islamic faith is the most obvious example, yet here in our own country we have people like Timothy McVeigh and the fanatical Christian group's attack in Norway. In fact, we tolerate the worst terrorists a person can imagine: white nationalists. In these circumstances, groups like the KKK disregard the rights of Jewish and Black Americans in their bid to make a white America. By "disregarding rights", I of course mean violence and murder directed at minorities to frighten them into doing what white nationalists want; namely, accepting a position of less power and influence than whites in society. In essence, taking away their freedoms. Because that's what terrorists want: to take away your freedom and your rights.
If you hit a homosexual because of their sexual orientation, you are a terrorist. If you beat and murder women to put them in their place, you are a terrorist. If you use a sex offender registry to hunt down and kill a pedophile, you are a terrorist. If you beat up someone you don't like, you are a terrorist (in the human psyche, we believe that inflicting injury on another changes them and makes them compliant to our motives). If you use fear for any reason to get what you want, you are a terrorist.
Either through threat or actual malicious force, using terror to achieve our goals IS terrorism. When an abortion clinic is bombed, it is an act of defiance and deterrence to future women who want the service in a legalized context, and doctors who are licensed to provide it. In this way, if you do such things to take a government-granted freedom away from another individual, you are a terrorist.
So to summarize this post, "let he who is without sin cast the first Prius"; Brian Griffon, Family guy. Because really, haven't all of us threatened another person to get our way?