Saturday, 16 October 2010

Whats in a name?

"not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslim"
Who ever first came up with that quote was either very sarcastic or a moron.Though he does lose bonus points for contradicting himself, first he clearly states that all anti US terrorist are from one religion (Islam) clearly placing blame on said religion then makes that rather infamous statement above which means either all non Muslims terrorists aren't good Muslims which is quite wrong and insulting though no more then the rest of his statement or hes just trying cover his bigotry in a rather weak figleaf.

I mean to demonstrate how wrong the above statement is Cenk gave a brief list of terrorist organisations that were not Muslim, heres a slightly longer list:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam(Tamil Tigers): broadly Secular Nationalist though due to the Tamil's being majority Hindu it is no surprise that that is also the predominant religion within the group. Also popularised the suicide bomber, though the first confirmed case of a deliberate suicide attack was in Lebanon in the 1980's directed against US forces stationed there. The group still holds the record for number of suicide attacks.
IRA and its various off shoots: Again a broadly Irish Nationalist group with a strong Catholic Support Base in both Ireland, Scotland and North America.
Northern Irish Loyalist organisations: Again a broad grouping of British Unionists with a strong Protestant (mainly Presbyterian) base in Ireland and Scotland.
ETA: Basque separatists operating in both Spain and France(Basque country overlaps the Spanish and French borders)
Marx inspired groups: These include the West German Red Army Faction, the Italian Rosa Brigade, and the Japanese Red Army Faction sometimes called Red Fraction to avoid confusion.

That should be enough to prove the point.

Now to be fair there is a way that this severe logical fallacy can become at least technically true.You see despite having numerous books, laws and film plots on the subject no one has actually come up with a universally excepted definition of what terrorism is. For example the UN still the closest thing are world has to an international concept dictionary has passed many declarations condemning terrorism and pledges for member states to fight it both before and after 9/11 heres a list notice how very few of those links actually bother to even give a brief summary of terrorism and the more detail they give usually the less support they receive.

The reason is simple no one can agree on what terrorism is. I mean check out the comments section of that video in the top there, you'll get all kinds of nonsensical definitions more then a few that sadly back up the sentiments of the arsehole I've quoted. Though it isn't just the crackpots and bigots who are doing this. While researching the subject I came across a number of academic articles who include definitions of terrorism that enable you to include environmental groups for committing acts which I and must people would at worst deem to be vandalism by emphasising the rights of property to an absurd degree. So it isn't really that surprising to see some people have come to regard the thing as a Islamic pastime.

Then muddying the waters further we have Guerrilla movements and organised crime gangs, can they be classed as terrorists, and is the application of that label conditional on a key number of actions and features? where do we draw the line? Or to be controversial what about when state armies deliberately cause pain and suffering to a people during war time, like bombing campaigns? or drone strikes? and should the situations theses groups operate in matter? is the label still applicable when the group or the people the group claims to represent are under direct existential threat like say the situation of the Palestinians or the Tamils both of whom face either death or a lives languishing in a series of concentration camps, does desperate times and desperate measures give them some slack in this regard?

And then of course the biggest grey area of them all armed resistance against the occupiers, what is the difference between say the French Maquis and the Islamic army of Iraq? both fought against occupation with fanaticism, both regularly murdered collaborators, both could be brutal at times. Yet the two have completely different images in the world why is that?

For clarities sake the definition of terrorism that I have personally come to accept as close to the phenomena as possible is as follows "planned acts of politically motivated violence that deliberately target a civilian population or populations, with the intent to spread terror to achieve an end". But what about you? where do you think a line should drawn (if at all?)

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