69 million page views

proper definitions

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

Submitted by Nick (United States), Sep 8, 2004 at 17:22

Please look up the words "terrorist", "terrorism", and "militant". They all have proper and accepted definitions.

"Militants" are fighters. That's about the extent of that word. You can be a militant librarian or a militant engineer or a militant shoe salesman. A militant Palestinian is a fighter, you are right. If a kid goes out and throws some bottles and takes gun shots at Israeli soldiers - then you are right - he's a militant, not really a terrorist. In fact, if a couple groups of non-military Israeli and Palestinian combatants were to get in a big fight and some people got killed... both sides should be labelled "militants" in the media report.

But there is a difference between a militant and a terrorist. In Palestine, Israel, Russia, the US, and all over the world, we certainly have both. A terrorist engages in "terrorism", which is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

When a militant makes political demands and purposefully targets "society" (being citizens or noncombatants), instead of military, para-military, or combatant forces (other militants) - he becomes a terrorist. "Terrorism" has a bad connotation, as it should... but it should still be applied properly.

The "good guys" and "bad guys" both use terrorism... more so with bad guys. You can label either side of a conflict good or bad, if you wish, but terrorism is terrorism. To continue to call a militant, who uses terrorism, a militant... shows bias.

In truth, for the media to be LESS biased, they would use the words "terrorist" or "terrorism" more freely and properly. If soldiers of a state purposefully kill civilians (non-combatants) to inspire fear and cause political change, those soldiers are terrorists. If the actions of those soldiers is state-sponsored, then we are talking about state-sponsored terrorism.

If a group of Chechens grabs a bunch of children and stabs and shoots them to inspire fear and make political demands... that's terrorism. If you would rather label them militants, you are showing YOUR bias.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)