Define Terrorism

Having commented on things Middle Eastern a few times in the last few days, I have had occasion to examine the quality of what passes for “oh, yeah?” these days.

One of the things we need to learn is that terrorism is a tactic. It is an evil tactic, but it is a tactic, and the success of the tactic depends upon it being out there in the open. Thus, to do something evil in secret, or to conduct a “false flag” operation, can be every bit as evil as terrorism, but it does not qualify as terrorism. That secret operation may or may not have happened, and if it did, it was evil. But an “out in the open” operation did happen, and we know because we all saw it, and this means that we know that those who claim to have done such things are in fact evil.

A “surprise attack” is also a tactic, and if the attack is not a surprise, then it was not a surprise attack. Shall I go over this again? If a surprise attack was treacherous, it does not follow from this that anything treacherous must also be a surprise attack. It is the same kind of thing with terrorism. All cows are mammals, but not all mammals are cows. And so, if Iran announced their intention to build a nuclear weapon and launch it at the Sixth Fleet, I am quite prepared to denounce it. But I wouldn’t denounce it as a surprise attack, because they announced it beforehand, and I wouldn’t denounce it as terrorism because it was a military target. Terrorism is sinful, but something can be sinful, like running for Congress, and not be terrorism.

If somebody blows up a city bus and all the grandmas on it, and their sponsoring organization “claims responsibility,” and then tells us that “there is a lot more where that came from,” we don’t have to do a whole lot of investigating to find out who the dirt bags are. They told us. If one of our drone strikes blows up an Afghan wedding ceremony, and the officials responsible for it apologize right before they are all sacked, we have to do a lot of investigating before we know what it was — “collateral damage,” an “electronic malfunction,” “operator error,” “culpable manslaughter,” or fill in the blank.

Consequently, organizations like Hamas are a known evil. Shilling for them is not much better. Israel does not function in that way, and does not use or avow that tactic. In order to use it at all it must be embraced and owned. Now the fact that Hamas avows this tactic, and Israel denounces it, and yet the “enlightened” opinions of our Isaiah 5:20ers reverse all this, means that something morally bizarre is going on. There is a pecular sort of hatred out there, of the kind that blinds the one who allows it to take up residence behind his eyeballs. There are those, of course, who say they are not blind at all and that the Zionist entity must be paying me big money under the table. Yeah, well, how many fingers am I holding up? How much money are they paying me to make you say two when there are clearly one, two, three?

So, when I say that Israel does not sponsor terrorism, I am making a factual claim that can be easily verified in public. It is similar to the claim that Israel is east of Italy and west of India. This is not hard to distinguish — it is the difference between claiming responsibility and denying responsibility.

Now it does not follow from this that I am claiming that the Mossad has never murdered anybody in private. It is saying that a private murder, assuming it to have occurred, is not the same thing as public murder done for public effect.

I will also say, in passing, that the sheer inability of many to master this very basic distinction between claim and disclaim, with regard to public events that are publicly owned and those which are disowned, does not inspire confidence in me when such folks claim to have all kinds of inside info on dirty deeds that Noam Chomsky found out about. That’s as may be, but since you just finished extracting darkness out of sunbeams, I don’t want to see what you can do with actual darkness.

Terrorism is a tactic that targets innocent civilians, and does so for the sake of demoralizing the rest of the nation. An attack on a military installation is not terrorism. “Terrorist” is not synonymous with “bad guys.” It is not what the big army calls the little army. It is not an all-purpose term of opprobrium in military affairs.

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