Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Which Terrorist Group Do You Belong To?

I don’t know about you, but I work for the Feds.  I am also a member of the Democratic party.

Millions of other Americans are too.  Millions more are members of the Republican Party.

What do these three organizations have in common?  They are all three, by definition, terrorist organizations.

Now, I know that this is something many people will greet with distain and dismissal.  “You’re crazy!  That’s the government, it can’t be a terrorist group!”  is the common refrain, I think.

But, hear me out.

Just what IS a terrorist group?  What defines it?   Wikipedia says that is a complicated issue to which over a hundred differing definitions have been assigned.  But I think what it boils down to is this:

“Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion.”

That is the very first sentence in that Wikipedia article, and I think that defines the essence of the term.  Most people tend to link terrorism to violence or the threat of violence.  Random acts of violence against civilians is also another common element people include.

But, is that all?  No, because the very first use of the term terrorism was French, and described actions by the French government!  Today, people tend to dismiss government action as terrorism and link this definition to non-state groups.

But that is the mere use of semantics to define your term to suit your political goals.

I think that the reality is much simpler.  Anyone who uses terror to influence a population, a group or an organization (whether a non-state organization or a government) is guilty of terrorism, because, simply, they are using fear as a weapon.  It doesn’t matter if your target is a company whose environmental policies you wish to influence (animal testing, for instance) as you break into their labs and smash equipment and free those animals, or a government you wish to influence in its foreign policy, or the members of a political party you wish to frighten into voting for you instead of your opponent.

Environmentalists have used non-lethal violence against property to influence companies to stop using animals for testing.  Islamist extremists use violence to stop the US government from backing Israel so single-mindedly, and the Republicans and the Democrats use those same Islamic terrorists like the old wives’ tales used the boogie man to frighten children into being good to convince the American people to give up their civil rights and liberties in the name of safety.  (That’s where the government comes in, too - Google the Patriot Act and read up on the civil rights you used to take for granted that no longer exist.)

Personally, I think the Democrats use the tactic less than the Republicans do as a political party.  Mostly, they use it as the Party in power, expanding the power of the government and limiting our liberties and rights.  (I wonder how they justify that, given how often the power shifts between parties in this country.)  The Republicans are a bit less subtle about it - they directly and blatantly use fear to frighten their base into going to the polls to vote Republican.

The government, as a separate entity from the two political parties, uses fear to expand its power.

I know that this is deliberately inflammatory, accusing the three most powerful groups in this country of terrorism at a time when we are supposed to be in a “war” with Islamic terrorist groups.  But given that definition, many people around the world would accuse us of just that, and would include violence as part of that accusation.

The American people aren’t exactly stupid, I believe, in spite of how they are often characterized by many, given the results of recent elections.  They have simply been hoodwinked by people with money, power and virtual exclusive use of the media to do it.

But the internet is a powerful tool the people can use for their (our) own uses in educating each other and banding together as a population to force our will on our government and other powerful institutions when they displease us.

It is time for us to begin to educate ourselves about how our political system is hoodwinking us into giving up our precious civil liberties, our Constitutional rights and our freedoms just for an illusion of safety.

Don’t let them get away with it!

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