Better And Better

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Then what the heck *is* it?!?

Caroline Paul says that her brother's act of arson in burning a slaughterhouse, as part of the campaign by "The Family" and their Earth First! cohorts, is not terrorism.

This campaign included fires set to a police station, SUV dealerships, ski lodges, ranger stations, power substations... and these are only the ones that the nine caught have confessed to.

I took a graduate seminar in terrorism two semesters ago, and our standard definition of terrorism was: "Acts of force or violence and/or the threat of force or violence for political, religious, ideological or similar purposes, including the intention to influence any government and/or to put the public or any section of the public in fear."

Seems like burning down anything that you don't like is an intimidation technique.

ALF and ELF are terrorist organizations. Even if their goals are pure ("Save the planet" is a pretty noble goal, actually), their methods taint everything they do. I mean-- Hitler just wanted to create a greater, more prosperous Germany, and maybe breed a Master Race, right? Noble goal, and all that. (It hurts my head when I roll my eyes that hard.)

Nine to thirteen years is pretty dadgummed lax, in my opinion, for an honest-to-Gawd arson involved in terrorist attacks. Ms. Paul's brother should be thanking his lucky stars.

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16 Comments:

At Saturday, May 26, 2007 11:43:00 AM, Blogger BellaLinda said...

Ten to one these folks are atheists & will tell you with a straight face that it's only terrorism if it's connected to religion.

 
At Saturday, May 26, 2007 12:03:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

No, it's that terrorists are those people. We're not them. We're not bad. We're on the fight for good.

ALL terrorists rationalize that they're on the side of right. I mean-- who really fights on the side of what they think is wrong?

 
At Saturday, May 26, 2007 2:33:00 PM, Blogger BellaLinda said...

Too true. Thus the saying (which I don't buy) "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," which usually seems accompanied by a defense of Palestinian suicide bombers.

 
At Saturday, May 26, 2007 8:18:00 PM, Blogger Byron said...

Matt,

In my view, that terrorism definition is too broad. The goal of the Allies in WWII definitely included influencing, intimidating, and-yes- destroying the governments of the Axis. I wouldn't view it as terrorism. By the same token, I would not view attacks on military forces to be terrorism.
Back in 1986 when the US bombed Libya, we targeted Qaddafi's quarters. The result was that we killed Qaddafi's two year old adopted daughter. Was President Reagan a terrorist for ordering that strike? How about the pilot and weapons officer of the F-111 that delivered the specific weapon that killed a 2 year old?

 
At Sunday, May 27, 2007 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

bellalinda,

Neither the Red Brigades nor the Baader-Meinhof Gang were notably religious, and both were definitely terrorists.

Ooh, those evil atheists!

 
At Sunday, May 27, 2007 1:59:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Fixit said...

Didn't Manson refer to his group as "The Family" too?

 
At Sunday, May 27, 2007 9:49:00 PM, Anonymous Huck Phinn said...

What the heck is it?

An act of self gratification.

(Why can't I get a font that drips with snide innuendo?)

 
At Sunday, May 27, 2007 11:32:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Dang, Byron, I thought Colonel Moammar al Qaddafi, the man who ordered attacks on our armed forces and appeared publicly only in uniform, was a legitimate military target.

It's damned unfortunate that we killed his daughter. That was not intentional... unlike Qaddafi's bombing an airliner out of the sky over Locherby, Scotland.

 
At Sunday, May 27, 2007 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Tam said...

I think that's what Byron was saying, but I could be wrong...

 
At Monday, May 28, 2007 1:57:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

My point, Tam, was that the major distinction was that the '86 attack was upon a known supporter of state-sponsered terrorism (one of the three types), but also a military figure. Apples and oranges, compared to our declaration that groups dedicated (and proudly so!) to burning down any industrial and post-industrial advancement to support their ideologies are terrorist groups. Tell me that you wouldn't consider it a mighty intimidating thing if the Brady Bunch declared that their secret agents were going to burn down all gun shops.

Uh, okay. Maybe not the most perfect example...

 
At Monday, May 28, 2007 3:51:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Bizarre factoid: At the dawn of the 19th century, "terrorism" was considered a positive thing in France. Good way to rule, and all that. Tres bizarre.

 
At Monday, May 28, 2007 7:59:00 PM, Blogger Byron said...

Matt,

I'm not claiming Qadaffi and his ilk are misunderstood freedom fighters or some such idiocy.

I am saying that the definition of terrorism used by your class was a damned poor one as just about every military action by legitimate governments could be covered by it.

And, every now and then, a terrorist group somehow strays into actions that can't be defined as terrorism. These guys usually get mostly killed because they attacked a group that could defend themselves and the survivors remember why they were attacking defenseless civilians in the first place.

 
At Monday, May 28, 2007 11:43:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Byron, I know far better than to think that you would make the knee-jerk "terrorists = freedom fighters" assumption. And while I agree that some uses of the word "terrorist" are too broad, I think that it fits well to the ALF arsons.

For what it's worth, I was over-simplifying; we actually had about 5 definitions of "terrorism," and the first half of the semester was spent arguing (it was a seminar class) what terrorism actually was. Good gawd, the reading. I just threw away about 800 pages of photocopy handouts (most pages of which were of two pages of a book splayed open on a photocopier and reduced in size to fit--tiny distorted words on a dry topic) from that class just last week.

The Marxist terrorists feel like their deaths will stir up more rebellion from the people. Inasmuch as they usually use guerilla tactics and disolve into the population, making it harder to find them and requiring heavy government intrusion into innocent citizens' lives, this actually works pretty well as a matter of practice. The act of rooting out terrorists creates more resistance, which can result in a grassroots movement which can topple the government that the terrorists were attacking in the first place. This has been known to work, and the terrorists that die in the process of kicking off this cycle actually think of themselves as dying for the freedom. When we shake our heads and say "how senseless" at the suicide attacks, occasionally, we're not actually looking as far ahead as the zealot with the explosive vest and the button.

No matter-- it's true that terrorst organizations can do non-terrorist acts, and that non-terrorist organizations can commit basic acts of terrorism. Everytime an organized crime syndicate firebombs a shop that won't pay for protection, it sends a message of intimidation to the other shopowners, which is an act of intimidation that might well be terrorism, by many definitions.

Keep in mind that the radical folks from ALF and ELF have killed with their arson, have destroyed medical research laboratories (those poor lab rats!), cross borders, and consider you and me their enemy, Byron (you hog and deer-killer, you!). Many feel that anyone who commits what they see as crimes against animals must be stopped, at any cost.

ALF/ELF folks now almost always videotape their actions. Why? So that they can broadcast them anonymously and say "This is what happens when you..." build a ski lodge/sell SUVs/put up a power station/do medical research on animals.

 
At Tuesday, May 29, 2007 11:52:00 AM, Blogger Byron said...

Matt,

They are correct in that determination-I am their enemy.

 
At Tuesday, May 29, 2007 2:00:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Sure... because they define you as such.

To paraphrase the Arabs in a way that suits me better: "The enemy of my enemy is me.

 
At Tuesday, May 29, 2007 9:03:00 PM, Blogger Byron said...

No, Matt, I am not their enemy because they define me as an enemy. In the case of those who use the tactics of terrorist, I am their enemy even in a case where I am somewhat in agreement with their goals.

About the only reason I'd turn such trash over to the authorites is for the purpose of intelligence gathering. I'd much rather see them killed-root and branch.

 

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