Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Vocabulary


An Irish friend this weekend mentioned that when she was younger she met several members of the IRA, who were immediately recognisable, she noted for their 'coldness and arrogance'. These two characteristics I suspect, are what you need to make a terrorist. For while millions have grievances, often legitimate grievances, it takes a specific type to turn that grievance into a plan to execute in cold blood civilians on a large scale. The numbers, in fact, are very small, though their impact immense.

On the news the terms 'militant' and 'terrorist' have been used interchangeably. As George Szirtes points out,

People who deliberately focus on civilians are simply murderers. If they do so for a political purpose they are terrorists and murderers. Not militants. Not an army. They are murderers with a vastly inflated opinion of their own honour and righteousness. which also makes them hypocrites.

7 comments:

lagatta à montréal said...

But that is also true of regular armies that attack civilians or cause "collateral damage". They cause the same kind of suffering Harry's son and many other innocent people are experiencing in Mumbai. And they get a pass in most cases.

By the way, as I've interpreted at Social Forums, I've received messages from activist groups in India sternly denouncing the terrorists for exactly the reasons you've stated here; that legitimate grievances are sullied by attacks on innocent people. In that wonderfully elaborate Indian English, speaking of vocabulary.

Linda Grant said...

If regular armies sit down to develop a plan to go out on a military exercise to target and murder unarmed civilians then they are murderers. For the most part armies are trained to kill other armed people who are out to kill them.

In the case of terrorists, unarmed civilians are the primary target.

Toby Wollin said...

Linda - I just finished "Evil Genes" by Barbara Oakley. She does yeoman's work explaining how the brain works and what can happen to it under stress, abuse, and genetic predilection; it is still somewhat of a difficult slog since it is heavy on the science end. If I understood her information correctly, world peace will continue to be a completely elusive goal because we will always have such people with us who have no compunction either to use others for their evil, or to be evil themselves.

Belle de Ville said...

Thank you Linda for your comment. I can't speak for all armies but the British, Canadian and US armed forces do everything humanly possible to avoid civilian casualties.

Lagatta, please take a break from Social Forums where activist groups in India "sternly denounce the terrorists" and expand your knowledge of how the military really operates by reading Michael Totten and Michael Yon online.

Also, please read the latest post from The Belmont Club where an eyewitness and photographer of the attack on the train station where the Indian police did not fire back at the terrorists.

When you have lost a best friend or family member to terrorism, as I have, you will have a different opinion of the social value of "stern denunciation".

lagatta à montréal said...

I was very, very lucky not to have lost a close friend in NYC in the 9/11 attacks - he is a journalist at Bloomberg News and didn't happen to be working at the WTC that day.

I have lost very close friends to State violence, in Argentina. And no, they weren't "armed militants".

Sorry, I don't agree with you about modern armies and modern warfare, but that is getting off the subject, and you might think I or the Indian groups I mention are somehow relativising - or worse excusing - this atrocity.

Social Forums are events, not online discussions.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. A recently returned british warrior from Afghanistan, said:

"I felt more emotional about shooting a baby rabbit than I did about killing the Taliban."

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