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Is "Terrorist" really just a description?

Reader comment on item: [Beslan Atrocity:] They're Terrorists - Not Activists

Submitted by Arti Persaud (Canada), Sep 8, 2004 at 13:30

Who would quarrel with the term 'terrorist" if it is just used descriptively? What I suspect most journalists worry about is that the term might smuggle in judgements about the nature of terrorism and the proper way to address it. This is a point that Daniel Pipes unwittingly concedes when he says, "Worse, the multiple euphemisms for terrorist obstruct a clear understanding of the violent threats confronting the civilized world." So for him the word 'terrorist' does reflect a certain understanding of the world - he labels it 'clear'. But I am sure many people would disagree with his understanding of the world and would be reluctant to use a word that instantiates it.

In any case, I think he overstates his point. Whether the term "terrorist' or 'militant' is used, who can fail to see the barbarity of what happened at Beslan?
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