Christopher Ryan Ph.D.

Sex at Dawn

Terror is as Terror Does

Our understanding of terrorism is wrong.

Posted Feb 20, 2010

Interestingly, much of the mainstream media was reluctant to use the term "terrorism" to describe what Joseph Stack did in Austin a few days ago. As reported in the New York Times:

Cable news anchors, who make a living partly by speculating about the news, tried to strike a balance between alarming viewers and explaining what they did and did not know. Repeatedly, the anchors cautioned that there was no immediate link to terrorism.

Glenn Greenwald gets into the implications of this reluctance to use the word "terrorist" to describe an angry white American flying a plane into a federal building, declaring that "Terrorism is simultaneously the single most meaningless and manipulated word in the American political lexicon."

The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity.  It has really come to mean:  "a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies."

Maybe we should spend less time stressing over words like "retard," and all the letter-words (n-word, c-word, etc.) and more pondering the real meaning of words like "terrorism," "collateral damage," and "enhanced interrogation."

Or maybe our reluctance to face the implications of these terms explains the conveniently distracting fuss over trivial terms? Anything to retard the process of maturing as a society . . .

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