Monday, November 16, 1998

Week of 11/16/1998

Acts of Terror
Terrorism is already in America, it’s just under a different name
- by David Matthews 2

In the motion picture "The Siege," we are exposed to a federal government pushed to the limit to stop the actions of a terrorist group causing havoc in New York. A bus is taken hostage and then destroyed. A nightclub is bombed. And to find this terrorist leader responsible, New York is put under martial law, complete with tanks and checkpoints and internment camps.

But we always tell ourselves that it really isn’t happening. That terrorism is just something you hear in the news over in the Middle East or in Northern Ireland. It can’t happen here in America.

What bunk!

Let’s be brutally honest here folks, terrorism has been here in America for years! Do you think that the explosion in the World Trade Center a few years back was a freak act of God? No, of course not. It was an act of blatant terrorism. How about the federal building in Oklahoma City? Yes, that too was an act of terrorism.

Okay, you then say, those were isolated incidents. How about the siege mentality that grips people in Ireland or Israel on a daily basis?

How about a worker at an abortion clinic, never knowing when some rabid pro-life fanatic will open fire on them even in the safety of their own homes? Or a furrier who is worried that his or her livelihood will be ruined because of an animal rights group who decides to open up their pens and let the animals run loose? You know, it wasn’t too long ago that we heard of incidents of "spiking," when environmentalists would run metal spikes into trees so that any chain saws that cut into them would shatter on contact. You want to be a woodsman with that thought always on the back of your mind?

The fact of the matter is, we’ve HAD terroristic acts here in America for quite some time. We’ve just never called them for what they are. A guy who plants bombs at abortion clinics and gay nightclubs is not called a terrorist, he’s simply a "deranged individual." A guy who kills abortion workers with a sniper rifle is not called a terrorist, he’s simply a "fanatic." A group of people who spike trees or cause damage to furriers aren’t terrorists, they’re simply "radical activists." We’ve used so much "soft language" (to use George Carlin’s terminology) that we cannot tell the difference between the true terrorist and the truly peaceful protester.

But, of course, we have no such soft language for terrorism that occurs outside of our borders. A guy who blows up a bomb in the middle of a crowded square in Israel is not called a "radical activist;" he’s a terrorist, plain and simple. The guy who blows up a police station in Ireland is not called a "spirited crusader;" he’s called a terrorist.

The failure to call terrorists for what they are only serves to further legitimatize their actions. Terrorists are able to hide their actions as simply being another form of protest. They’re able to blend into a crowd that much more easily, and gather support for their actions. After all, who can object to a "spirited crusader" to your cause? Never mind that this particular "spirited crusader" would rather do their protesting with phony anthrax threats and high powered sniper rifles.

Look folks, the history of America’s birth as a nation wasn’t without acts of violence either. We didn’t pick up picket signs and chant "We Shall Overcome" when facing the British soldiers. The Boston Tea Party wasn’t a casual affair - it was an act of violence against the established government. In other words, a terrorist act. Similar actions were also caused against British tax collectors at the time. Ever hear of the term "tar and feather?" That wasn’t just a figure of speech back then, as tax collectors found out first hand. That, too, was a terrorist act.

We need to really differentiate between the peaceful protester and the acts of terror, and call them for what they are instead of hiding behind the "soft language" that has allowed those terrorist actions to continue operating in the shadows of protesters. The whole purpose of terrorism is to strike fear into the heart of their victims. To make them fearful of their lives. It has no purpose to be associated with a peaceful protest, where the purpose is really not to intimidate but to dissuade actions without resorting to violence.

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