On Terrorism...

Okay, so here it is...

"We should be willing to call a terrorist a terrorist, no matter the colour of their skin or the (religious) beliefs that they espouse.  Killing and / or injuring innocent people to make a point is an unacceptable approach to affecting change, and we should all condemn it no matter the individuals or organisations involved."  Maleghast - 01/12/2015

That's what I wanted to say, because I am fairly confident that there are going to be quite a few media organisations that despite pressure from the public and bloggers and people outside the corporate media echo chamber, that are going to continue to refer to Robert Lewis Dear as a "person with mental health issues", rather than a terrorist.

Now, to be completely clear on the matter, I am more than willing to make the assumption that anyone prepared to do what he did should be considered mentally ill, but there is an unfortunate tendency to 'avoid' the terrorist label when events such as this shooting, or the church shooting in Charleston back in June of this year, take place at the hands of white men.

No, I am not an apologist for white people or men.

No, I am not 'for' any other demographic carrying out acts of terrorism.

What I do think is important is that we call such acts terrorism whenever they occur.

There is an old saying:

"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

and I think that a good deal of the World falls into the trap of giving absolution to those whose cause(s) we agree with, even if they adopt terrorist tactics.

The point is that no matter how oppressed you might be, there is no ethical or moral framework that can honestly support indiscriminate acts of violence that cause harm to those effectively innocent of the struggle. It is a hard line to walk, but if Robert Lewis Dear truly believed that he should kill the people who make / made abortion possible in the United States in order to make his voice heard then he could have only reasonably targeted the Supreme Court Justices* who gave the opinion in Roe vs. Wade that essentially rendered abortion legal in the United States at a Federal Level. Even then I do not believe that Judges should be assassinated by self-appointed moral crusaders and neither would any other right-thinking person. Even so, killing anyone else for simply providing a legal service or using that legal service is so far outside the boundaries of justifiable as to make it utterly reprehensible.

(*I have not checked, but I think some or all of them are already dead)

Now, do I think that the corporate media in The West supports Robert Lewis Dear? Of course I do not, in fact aside from the fact of the word terrorist being conspicuous by its absence, the coverage is absolutely in the vein of condemnatory and clear on the criminality of his actions, not to mention the complete lack of any kind of moral or ethical justification for what he did.

So why are we not hearing him being called a terrorist?

Well, to start with the most charitable reason, he does not appear to be affiliated with any kind of organisation, certainly not one that is keen to take any kind of responsibility for his actions. The media and to an extent the public do not seem to be able to process the idea of a terrorist being self-organising. Certainly he has what would appear to be a lot of common ground with some (as yet) non-violent organisations in the US and even some organisations in the US that have actively encouraged acts of violence and indeed murder be carried out against doctors and patients either providing or seeking abortions. None of these organisations is jumping up and down claiming him and his actions for their cause. He fits very neatly into the 'lone wolf', or better still the 'lone nut', paradigm that seems to defeat the terrorist label right off the bat.

Now a slightly less charitable analysis might also include that he is White and ostensibly Christian, and in the eyes of the media - and again to some extent the public - terrorists are non-White and non-Christian. It is almost as though neither he nor Dylann Roof, nor others such as Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski or The Weathermen or the KKK can be put into the terrorist category because the zeitgeist demands a curvy knife, a beard and a suicide vest. It is interesting that we seem to have forgotten the IRA and the INLA and the UVF (to name but a few), all predominantly White and (terrifyingly) Christian in their various sectarian outlooks, all of whom even the American media were broadly happy to label as terrorists back in the day...

Fundamentally, if we in The West are going to use the word terrorist to define Al Quaeda or Daesh or the Tamil Tigers or the Mindanao Islamic Liberation Front as terrorist in their demeanour, then we have a duty of fairness to assign the same label to these other killers.

Moreover we can and should continue to denounce the use of violence, indiscriminate or otherwise to further policy agendas. Before I really started to think about this I used be offended by people referring to George W. Bush - a man I broadly dislike and readily ridicule - as a terrorist. The same used to be true for me with regard to Tony Blair - another person I vehemently dislike. But over time I have come to see that there is no ethical difference between waging an indiscriminate air war against a foreign power than there is in opening fire on a crowd outside an abortion clinic. Innocent people will be killed as a consequence; it is unavoidable.

I have no total objection to a well planned, properly resourced and properly policed international ground force (if invited) assisting the Kurds, Iraqis and Syrians in fighting Daesh. It is a strategy that might work and allows for the possibility of attempting to limit, if not exclude, the possibility of civilian casualties and to wage war upon a threatening power within the boundaries of International Law. If we must fight them, then this can and should be the only way we would do it, and even then I would strongly urge that we not do that, because we will still be meeting violence with violence, and all that has ever been proven to do in the History of the World is for it to lead to more violence, even if at first it brings a little peace.

If we are going to use the word terrorist, and I believe that we should, then we have a duty to use it to describe all who qualify as such, and to do everything in our collective power to not become terrorists ourselves.

Maleghast - December 1st 2015