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Ter·ror·ism (Noun): When OTHER People Do What We Do

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Washington’s Blog
August 9, 2012

It’s Not Terrorism When WE Do It ….

The United States is arguably the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism, although we call it “self defense” and fighting “humanitarian” wars.

But when other people – especially brown-skinned people who wear funny clothes – do the same things that we do, we label it as terrorism.

Mark Selden - Bartle Professor of History and Sociology at Binghamton University – explains:

American politicians and most social scientists definitionally exclude actions and policies of the United States and its allies” as terrorism.

For example, the American military  indiscriminately kills innocent civilians (and see this),  calling it “carefully targeted strikes”.  When others do it, we rightfully label it terrorism.

When Al Qaeda, Syrians or white supremacists target  people attending funerals of those killed – or those attempting to rescue people who have been injured by –   previous attacks, we rightfully label it terrorism.  But the U.S. government does exactly the same thing, without any criticism by government apologists.

Torture is a recognized form of terrorism.  The United States has always considered waterboarding to be a crime of torture, including when the Japanese did it in WWII (and see this).

But the government and its lackeys tried to say that American waterboarding in the “war on terror” was not torture.   When asked during his 2008 presidential bid whether waterboarding was torture, Rudy Giuliani answered:

It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.

Indeed, we have a long history of using bombs and violence as a way to scare the civilian populations into seeing things our way.

But that is never labeled terrorism by the U.S.  Instead, anyone who simply disagrees with U.S. policy(including those with the nerve to criticize the wars on brown-skinned people throughout North Africa and the Middle East planned 20 years ago) may be targeted with the  terrorist  label.

Why Are the American People So Easily Fooled?

As the Atlantic points out:

Since 9/11, many Americans have conflated terrorism with Muslims; and having done so, they’ve tolerated or supported counterterrorism policies safe in the presumption that people unlike them would bear their brunt. (If Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD sent officers beyond the boundaries of New York City to secretly spy on evangelical Christian students or Israeli students or students who own handguns the national backlash would be swift, brutal, and decisive. The revelation of secret spying on Muslim American students was mostly defended or ignored.)

In the name of counterterrorism, many Americans have given their assent to indefinite detention, the criminalization of gifts to certain charities, the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens, and a sprawling, opaque homeland security bureaucracy; many have also advocated policies like torture or racial profiling that are not presently part of official anti-terror policy.

***

It ought to be self-evident that non-Muslims perpetrate terrorist attacks, and that a vanishingly small percentage of Muslims are terrorists, but those two truths aren’t widely appreciated in America. That doesn’t mean they won’t reassert themselves, for terrorist attacks have always been with us; the tactic has never been exclusive to a single ideology for very long; and the power the state marshals against one sort of terrorist is sure to be first to hand when another sort strikes.

***

Having flattened so many laws (and a good many innocents) in pursuit of the terrorist, the American majority is naturally loath to focus its attention on a terrorist who looks, talks, and dresses as they do. It is particularly uncomfortable for those in the country who feel most reflexively safe when “an American” is beside them on a plane, instead of a bearded man with a turban. Watching [the Sikh temple massacre], that subset of Americans was put in a position to realize that a day prior they’d have identified with the terrorist more than his victims.

And so they quickly looked away.

History shows that when people try to ignore terrorism done to others – pretending that it doesn’t effect them – they end up vulnerable, alone and exposed.

And letting our fear of terror get out of hand makes people stupid.

And it should be clear that the failure to really investigate 9/11 (and the government’s bumbling incompetence or worse) has led to the spread of terrorism.  Specifically, there was state support for 9/11 from at least one government … and yet we haven’t changed our foreign policy based upon that fact.  And if people knew that 9/11 was preventable,  they would demand real national security, instead of the ruthless global war and shameless fear-mongering which has been the government’s response to those attacks.

This article was posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 11:12 am





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