Terror vs. Terror

December 30, 2008

“‘In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable cease-fire,’ a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, told reporters in Texas. ‘Hamas has once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization.'” From “Gaza Toll Passes 350 in 3rd Day of Israel Strikes” in the New York Times.

Again and again we see states try to justify murder with murder, torture with torture, barbarism with barbarism, genocide with genocide.

The words “terror,” “terrorism” and “terrorist” obscure this hypocrisy. What is it that states want to counter by “countering terrorism?” The killing, injuring and frightening of civilians. How are states going to do it? By killing, injuring and frightening civilians? Come on.

The human rights community should drop the “terror” framework. There are individuals, armed groups, unarmed groups, companies, states and groups of states. Some of these terrorize civilians. Some don’t. Let’s stop confusing “who” with “what.”

Or at least let’s insist on using the word “terrorist” to describe all who qualify.