Terrorism Re: Corporate transparency

Jeff Bone jbone@jump.net
Wed, 09 Jan 2002 17:38:02 -0600

"S. Alexander Jacobson" wrote:

> Terrorists terrorize civilians in order to get
> them to change their government's policy.
> Terrorism is not a viable strategy against a
> dictatorship.  Terrorism involves violence
> or threats of violence against innocent civilians
> and is evil.

This is nice in theory, but ignores the reality of conflict.  No significant
conflict has ever been fought that didn't involve civilian casualties, and
most have involved *intentional* civilian casualties.  Even the antique notion
of "gentleman soldiers" is a total myth, a fabrication of folklorists.  The US
war for independence was particularly bloody, and indeed involved much
violence against otherwise innocent British and American "civilians."  So let
me be more specific in my query:  are you ready to assert that the American
revolutionaries were terrorists?  Does that therefore mean that you don't
believe the American cause justified these actions?  If you do believe they
were justified, then isn't it likely that this is a subjective assessment, and
that other people operating just as reasonably as you are might assess the
activities of i.e. the 9-11 crowd as "justified?"

BTW, I'm *NOT* justifying the attacks at *ALL.*  Indeed, I think we've
under-responded to the attacks.  I am, however, sensitive to the fact that
moral absolutism here really serves no good purpose, and indeed may obscure
our understanding of the issues at hand and our crafting of appropriate
responses / deterrants to future similar occurrances.

> In contrast violence against an oppressor/attacker
> may be ok, because it falls into the category of
> self-defense.

Based on what I've heard / seen / read, this is exactly how many Muslim
extremists view this conflict.

> Regarding cowardice, why is it important to you to
> correct the usage in their case.

I fear that we've got a trend of rampant semantic revisionism going on, and
I'm committed to fighting against it wherever I find it. ;-)

> Obviously
> cowardice is a non-provable condition.  Bush's
> usage is purely spin to support the campaign
> against them

You got it.

> The reason why people got upset at
> Bill Maher is that either he did not understand
> that or he was against the campaign against
> the 9/11 terrorists.

I think this is pretty simplistic.  People got mad at Bill Maher for any
number of complex, emotional reasons.  His failure to predict that reaction is
a failure of sensitivity more than anything else;  I doubt seriously that he
either failed to understand that Bush was spinning things *or* that he was
expressing pro-terrorist sentiment.

> After all, if it was only a
> matter of semantic correctness, there are many
> things to talk about that are less helpful to OBL.

Some people prefer to live in the real world, rather than the world of spin.
For those people, spin --- particularly egregious demagoguery of the sort
we're discussing --- is particularly irritating.  I assume Bill is one of the

Point of fact, btw.  Most of the backlash at Bill wasn't *actually* about the
cowardice issue vis-a-vis applying that label to the 9-11 murderers, but
rather his comments in the same context about whether our own military actions
against Al Qaeda a couple of years back weren't in some sense more cowardly.
Now, that wasn't a very bright thing for him to say, and he took the heat on
it.  My agreeing with him regarding the 9-11 guys not being cowards doesn't
imply that I also agree with him that our own cruise missile attacks
demonstrate a relative cowardice.