Friday, August 11, 2006

What is your definition of a terrorist?

Just wondering....comments welcome.


At 8/29/06, 10:58 PM, Blogger steve said...

ok, I'll bite.

To me, a terrorist is someone who creaters terror, for whatever purpose.

This begs the question, what is terror?

Here's what the online free dictionary says:

ter·ror Pronunciation (trr)
1. Intense, overpowering fear. See Synonyms at fear.
2. One that instills intense fear: a rabid dog that became the terror of the neighborhood.
3. The ability to instill intense fear: the terror of jackboots pounding down the street.
4. Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes.
5. Informal An annoying or intolerable pest: that little terror of a child.
[Middle English terrour, from Old French terreur, from Latin terror, from terrre, to frighten.]

#4 - "One who threatens or commits violence in order to coerce a population."

That does seem to sum it up.

At 8/30/06, 8:04 AM, Blogger Weedgardener said...

Why, what a novel idea! I never thought of actually looking it up in the dictionary. Silly me.

At 9/1/06, 1:11 AM, Blogger steve said...

well, I understand you have several dictionaries, and you were looking for how other people define it.

ok, here's a fairly all-encompassing definition, from 1982:

The Real Terror Network:
Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda
by Edward S. Herman
South End Press, 1982; ISBN 0-89608-134-6

"A devastating exposé of U.S. foreign policy which separates the myth of an international terrorist conspiracy from the reality."

From the cover:

"In country after country in the U.S. sphere of influence 'dominoes' have been falling, with military regimes and other dependent tyrannies coming into power in virtually all of Central and South America, and Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Zaire, and elsewhere. These regimes have almost uniformly displayed the following characteristics:

(1) they represent a small elite interest, including the multinational corporation which they treat kindly;

(2) they all use terror, including modern forms of torture, to keep the majority unorganized, powerless, and as means to local elite and multinational corporate ends;

(3) the leaderships of these states are almost invariably venal;

(4) they have allowed already highly skewed income distributions to become still more unequal, and have caused a large fraction of their populations to be kept in a state of extreme deprivation....

"The broad purpose of this book is to show the nature, roots and vast scope of the real terror network — the U.S.-sponsored 'authoritarian' states — and to examine the ways in which the magnificent propaganda machinery of the west has covered this over and substituted in its place a lesser, and frequently concocted, network that includes — by careful definition and selectivity — only those terrorists who are challenging important western interests or who can be plausibly linked to its enemies."

"If 'terrorism' means 'intimidation by violence or the threat of violence,' and if we allow the definition to include violence by states and agents of states, then it is these, not isolated individuals or small groups, that are the important terrorists in the world. If terrorist violence is measured by the extent of politically motivated torture and murder, is in the U.S.-sponsored and protected 'authoritarian' states — the real terror network — that these forms of violence have reached a high crescendo in recent decades."

— Edward S. Herman


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