Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Don't say 'terrorist'.

I am fed up with reading in the papers about 'terrorists' doing this and that.
Anyone remember Nelson Mandela being called a 'terrorist'? Well, he was, over and over, for many years.
Someone using the word "terrorist" is a fairly reliable symptom of an attempt to stop their readers thinking, and simply to scare and repel them from the people under discussion.
It is quite similar in that regard to the use of words such as "nigger", "kike", "towel-head", etc.

[For detail, I recommend a perusal of Steven Poole's fine book 'Unspeak'.]

And before I get flamed, let me remark that I myself am a convinced believer in and practitioner of non-violence. I don't condone asymmetric warfare. But neither do I condone lazy and 'violent' communication.

9 Comments:

Blogger Dorothea said...

George Orwell had some useful things to say on the subject too;

http://www.resort.com/~prime8/Orwell/patee.html

What would you like to see the word "terrorist" replaced with, Rupert?

29 January 2008 at 18:01  
Blogger Rupert said...

'Practitioner of asymmetric warfare' is a start. Sometimes 'insurgent' works. _Sometimes_, even, 'freedom-fighter'...
I am writing an article about this with my partner Juliette, that I will post here at some point.

29 January 2008 at 22:42  
Blogger Dorothea said...

I shall look forward to reading the article, Rupert.

However, I feel that your approach runs the risk of euphemising and disguising the obscene and depraved reality we face.

The fact is that there are now a set of individuals who share an ideology, see themselves as working towards a goal together, and are prepared to deliberately slaughter civilians wholesale, use rape, and kidnap ordinary people, to execute them for propaganda, amongst other things.

If that isn't attempting to terrify people, I don't know what is.

30 January 2008 at 11:04  
Blogger Rupert said...

Indeed. Most of the things you describe are practiced wholesale by governments such as our own, and not just retail by [non-state] 'terrorists'.

30 January 2008 at 11:32  
Blogger Dorothea said...

If you really believe that, Rupert, you are living in a dangerously complacent fantasy land, imo.

Our government may have lots of faults, but I've never seen a report that says that they have openly and publicly murdered civilians on purpose. Nor have I heard of rape being used as a weapon against their opponents (even ZanuLab don't go that far). Nor have I seen any innocent hostages beheaded by Blair, Brown, Bush or any of their associates.

Just a very few examples of the the actual reality of terrorism include the following picked up in a couple of minutes;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1620554.ece

Islamabad: "Sharia gangs roam streets of capital city to enforce their law with threats."

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C03%5C21%5Cstory_21-3-2007_pg7_8

LAHORE: "An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday sentenced an Islamic zealot to death for shooting dead Punjab social welfare minister Zil-e-Huma Usman" - she didn't wear a veil, and women shouldn't be in politics anyhow!

http://conservengland.blogspot.com/2007/07/hostage-reality.html

“Lawyers in Pakistan are investigating a report that up to 30 men tortured and gang-raped a young Christian man for refusing to convert to Islam. The victim is seriously injured and unable to move, Release International’s partner in Pakistan has reported. However, according to the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) the police are keeping him locked up and have denied him medical treatment.”

“A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and gang-raped by four Muslim men in Lahore, Pakistan, on Easter Day. Less than a week later, a Christian man in Jamshoro district was threatened by a mob following allegations of blasphemy, persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide has learned.”

30 January 2008 at 14:03  
Blogger weggis said...

Rupert,
By 'Practitioner of asymmetric warfare' do you mean "Guerilla"?

30 January 2008 at 18:33  
Blogger Rupert said...

Yes, sometimes 'guerrilla' is appropriate.
In response to D., who says "I've never seen a report that says that they have openly and publicly murdered civilians on purpose" -- well of course our government and the U.S. government doesn't _say_ that in reports!! They just do it. Look at their uses of cluster bombs, e.g.

That is my last comment on this subject for a while. Wait for my article on this...
:-), as it were.

31 January 2008 at 15:43  
Blogger Dorothea said...

OK, I shall be patient ... but you may like to chew on this as well.

I’m not any happier about State possession and use of cluster bombs than you are, not to mention the real biggie - nuclear weapons, and can you imagine private armies (ie terrorists) having control of those? We live in a very nasty world full of vicious and power-hungry people. However, there are some crucial differences between governmental and non-governmental activities, which you seem to be ignoring.

For a start, governments are vulnerable to pressure from their people, from groups such as Amnesty, from other governments and from international bodies like the UN. Non-governmental bodies like al-Qaeda can operate completely free from such pressures, and they take full advantage of this.

For another thing, State forces rarely use sheer terror as the main plank of their strategy as terrorist groupings are doing. The State can use more effective coercive measures, especially economic ones.

Objecting to atrocities by terrorists does not imply any minimisation of terrorism where it is committed by the State, and nor should the converse be the case. Seeing matters in their correct proportion is essential.

The motive and expected outcomes of substituting the T-word for a more anodyne one in such cases as I outlined above, also needs consideration.

The Wikipedia entry on state terrorism points out that the word was originally coined in reference to the forces of progress at the time of the French revolution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_terrorism

Incidentally, It’s cheering to see you upbraiding the State … any more of this and you’ll be joining Nozick; the only good government is small government.

1 February 2008 at 18:05  
Blogger Man in a Shed said...

I would have though a terrorist was some one who's main method of manipulation was to use terror to generate stress and fear in the larger population.

The IRA, ANC (in the past), Red brigade, Al Qaeda all fit this definition.

Its what people understand and mean. Try to change the meaning of the word is trying to control how people think and remove their consideration of the facts. George Orwell would have understood that well also.

2 February 2008 at 10:06  

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29.
I am fed up with reading in the papers about 'terrorists' doing this and that.
Anyone remember Nelson Mandela being called a 'terrorist'? Well, he was, over and over, for many years.
Someone using the word "terrorist" is a fairly reliable symptom of an attempt to stop their readers thinking, and simply to scare and repel them from the people under discussion.
It is quite similar in that regard to the use of words such as "nigger", "kike", "towel-head", etc.

[For detail, I recommend a perusal of Steven Poole's fine book 'Unspeak'.]

And before I get flamed, let me remark that I myself am a convinced believer in and practitioner of non-violence. I don't condone asymmetric warfare. But neither do I condone lazy and 'violent' communication.
30. 31. 32.