Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the use of the word "terrorism".

So an Army Major named Hasan goes nutjob jihad and kills and maims a bunch of his fellow soldiers. Immediately the partisan divide opens. The left pretends that this is an entirely random act of madness. The right proclaims that the left are being a bunch of weenies, afraid to use the word terrorism. As well as engaging in the same kind of political correctness groupthink that allowed his bizarre behavior to be ignored.

One of the problems with this overall discussion is with the definition of terrorism. To me, terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians to intimidate a population into a particular kind of behavior.

When most people think of the word terrorism, they think about an organized group acting together to complete a plan. 9-11 is a perfect example of that. AQ did planning, fund raising, training, had secret communications and meetings, and executed a successful operation.

That's different from some guy going into his basement, grabbing all the guns he can find, screaming Allah Akbar, and shooting up the people around him.

Sure, there are problems with Muslim leaders preaching "kill the infidels", but they aren't specifically working with the psycho killer. They are just providing an environment that makes the behavior politically or theologically acceptable to some. The two kinds of terrorism are very different.

An organized group of terrorists opening fire on groups of civilians in different cities on the same day is organized terrorism.

Not so much for the Ft. Hood whack job.

I think equating the two does a disservice both to Islam and US Homeland security. It is reasonable to expect Homeland Security to stop an organized, coordinated attack. Not much you can do about a lone gunman attacking a soft target.

It is even questionable whether the Ft. Hood attack can even be considered terrorism. Hasan attacked a military target, not a civilian one.

While I agree Muslim leaders should be much more clear and vocal condemning both the attack and the voices who support the attack, I think it is also reasonable for the media to be restrained and clear about the use of the word "terrorism".


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