Current Events

Political Terrorism Language

So, what exactly is a “Weapon of Mass Destruction?” The Boston bomber has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction for setting off a homemade explosive made from black powder and nails. We’re told that we never found Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and we assume that means nuclear or chemical weapons. But, there have certainly been LOTS of bombs used in Saddam’s Iraq that easily meet Boston’s definition of WMD. It seems that we have kind of a floating term, one that can be shaped to fit the political whims of the day.

Another such term is “Terroristic Threats.” It would be largely agreed that I am making terroristic threats if I send a letter to Delta Airlines saying that I plan to blow up an airliner, or if I phoned in a bomb threat to the Empire State Building. But, I could also be charged with terroristic threats for telling a fellow ninth grader that I’ll punch him in the face if he looks at my girlfriend the wrong way again.

The US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked, burned, and the ambassador and staff brutally killed. The Administration and the fawning media have never even accidentally called that terrorism. Reporters and civilians captured and beheaded in the Middle East and the video posted online for the world to see – Terrorism? Nope. Rockets launched into civilian neighborhoods by militant Palestinians? Those poor folks are just unable to get their point across any other way. Unfortunate? Yes. Terrorism? Hardly.

We water down and confuse our terms in order to achieve certain political goals. It’s easy for the political powers that be to single out a bully and throw the book at him. Nobody likes a bully and it’s politically easy to score a point or two by punishing that ninth grade “terrorist.” The Boston bomber has been public enemy # 1 for going on two weeks now. His crime was a huge public spectacle and the whole world watched as the perpetrator was hunted down and captured live on CNN. The mayor and the governor and the various law enforcement talking heads took to briefing podiums all over Boston (and Washington) as heroes for their respective roles in bringing these “dangerous terrorists” to justice.

But, the political situation in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea? That’s too hard, too complicated, too politically risky. Those that seek to continue to win the public popularity contests are better off to pretend that those situations don’t exist. Sweep those places under the rug and hope that nothing happens on their watch – or, if it does finally blow up, all the better, as they can gallantly lead the response to the crisis and a now politically popular way – right there, LIVE on CNN.

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