When is “terrorism” not really terrorism? When it is a fake label attached to something lesser by those who want to condemn something without a strong argument against it.
Terrorism is using violence or threats of violence (“acts of terror”) to attempt to achieve political or religious goals. It isn’t all acts of violence and a certain level of (threatened) violence is required.
It certainly doesn’t apply to a group of protestors marching down a rich white suburban street at midnight shouting to wake people up. That’s annoying as hell, but hardly terrorism.
Acts of terror include (but are not limited to) :-
- Flying planes into buildings killing thousands.
- Blowing up shopping centres, business buildings, places of entertainment (pubs), etc.
- Shootings – in mass shootings, or individual cases. Or any other form of extra-judicial execution (i.e. lynching).
There is almost always a certain level of randomness in the attack, although it will tend to target certain subgroups of a society. There is also an element of propaganda to the act (the so-called propaganda of the deed). Threats of violence can also be classified as terrorism too – if the threat is associated with real violence in a way that elevates it above the “ordinary” threats – such as leaving a burning cross on someone’s lawn in an area where the KKK operates.
It is common to see non-terrorist acts labelled as such by two groups – ones who want to blacken the name of a protest group, and those who accidentally trivialise real terrorism by equating the individual’s terror at a relatively trivial incident with the kind of collective terror that real terrorist acts are supposed to cause.
For example, one of the events that triggered this post was a tweet claiming that BLM protestors were terrorists because they were marching through a rich suburban neighbourhood at midnight shouting to wake people up. Just because a particularly nervous suburbanite feels “terror” at being woken up by protestors doesn’t make that march terrorist. It may be a dickish move, but it’s not terrorism.
To claim such a trivial act is equivalent to a terrorist attack is an insult to those who have been in real terrorist attacks, have been in bomb scares, or just waited for the phone call letting us know whether a loved one was okay.
And protests that degenerate into vandalism and looting aren’t terrorist acts either. Whilst terrorist acts can involve property damage the main thrust of such acts is threats against life. And anyone who thinks property damage is anywhere near as bad as threats to life is someone who needs to re-examine their values.
Besides which there are a fair number who believe (and in some cases have the evidence to show) that the looters weren’t protestors · they just took advantage of the confusion.
And for officialdom to label protestors as “terrorists” is dangerous because all of a sudden you’re seeing legitimate protestors being criminalised with some rather draconian punishments that can be brought into play. If anything, it is a warning that your government is veering towards repressively authoritarian.
And yes that’s a reference to Trump’s shower of thugs.