Sunday, October 17, 2004

Terrorists are NOT freedom fighters

I don’t like to drag my school into a blog based on national politics, but I can’t let this one go. In the last issue of our school’s newspaper, The Torch, there was an editorial by a young man by the name of Jon Kirsch arguing that "the highly charged, pejorative term “terrorist” is one of the most destructive forces in American culture today." He goes on to argue:

Once upon a time, a group of people within a country decided that they wanted to start their own country. They had legitimate grievances for starting their own country, but despite all of that, the country they wanted to leave refused to let them go. A big war ensued. In the year 2004, can you guess what we would call that group of people trying to leave and start their own country for legitimate reasons? We call them terrorists. In the year 1776, do you know what people called them? Freedom fighters and patriots. Americans who fought the British using vicious guerrilla tactics in South Carolina are freedom fighters. Yet the Chechen rebels fighting the Russians are somehow terrorists.

I cannot tell you how insulted I am to have my American history so shamefully compared to current terrorism. Allow me to define terrorism for you: the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature. And allow me to point out the key word for you: civilians. Why are the Chechen rebels terrorists? Hmmm... maybe because they took an entire school of children hostage in Beslan? And then shot the children in the back when they tried to escape. They shot children. That makes them terrorists.

He goes on to say that since the Soviet Union persecuted them so much (it did) they were justified in the attempt to create their own country (they were). The problem is not that they want their own country. This is merely a red herring thrown out to distract us from what makes terrorism terrorism. Terrorism is related to motives and methods. The insurgents from Chechnya are terrorists because of incidents like the Beslan massacre, not because they have the gall to secede.

The kicker, though, is here:

Even after the terrible hostage situation at the Russian school in Beslan, we would be better human beings by not condemning the Chechens who perpetrated the attack. It was a tragedy that children died. It was a tragedy that, historically, Algerians bombed French cafés and killed women and children. Most Americans would like to lie to themselves and assert that if they were Algerian or Chechen, they would have acted differently... I don’t know which is worse, the misguided person who kills a child to strive to make his own children free, or the ignorant American who condemns those who strive for freedom while ignoring the considerable transgressions of those who have reduced human beings to horrifying exigencies.

I hate to break it to him, but I would have acted differently. The fact that the children died is indeed tragic. But by leaving it there, he is attempting to absolve the terrorists of all responsibility for their actions. No one forced them to kill children and other civilians to voice thei legitimate greivances. Now tell me, which of these is worse:

1) Killing children, however misguided
2) Being an ignorant American

The fact that he is not sure is the worst case of moral bankruptcy I have ever seen. Jon Kirsch, you should be ashamed of yourself.


At 10/17/2004 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about the difference between pirates and emperors?
watch the movie--you'll enjoy it. come by if you're really too lazy to download it.


At 10/24/2004 9:56 PM, Blogger Randomscrub said...

Sadly, whoever wrote that cartoon was an idealist. The US did fund some reprehensible people/governments. But in most cases it was to help them combat even more reprehensible ones.


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