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"Terrorism" is not the clearest word itself

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

Submitted by Kirby (United States), Sep 9, 2004 at 09:29

The American Heritage Dictionary defines 'terrorism' as, "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."

I draw issue with the term "unlawful", since it crosses international boundries--whose laws? Remove this word, then, and we arrive at a definition which could just as well describe the actions of the Israeli or American militaries; they're terrorist organizations with more funding and a longer history.

The fact of the matter is ideological violence is always about terror, intimidation, and coercion, be it from whatever source. So let's stick to less inflamatory terms like "militants", lest we forget to look in the mirror and see the terror we create ourselves.

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