Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Terrorists have beards in live in caves."

So says Dan Stone at Newsweek.

Comes down to ID. This guy was a regular guy-next-door Joe Schmo. Terrorists have beards in live in caves. He was also an American, so targeting the IRS seems more a political statement – albeit a crazy one – whereas Abdulmutallab was an attack on our freedom. Kind of the idea that an American can talk smack about America, but when it comes from someone foreign, we rally together. Or in the case of the Christmas bomber, vie for self-righteousness.
Yes, this is THAT Newsweek. Where, apparently, they're struggling to find reasons to call a guy who flew a plane into an IRS building anything but a terrorist. Why? Because he's white:
Kathy Jones, Managing Editor (Multimedia)

Did the label terrorist ever successfully stick to McVeigh? Or the Unabomber? Or any of the IRS bombers in

Here is my handy guide:
Lone wolfish American attacker who sees gov't as threat to personal freedom: bomber, tax protester, survivalist, separatist

Group of Americans bombing/kidnapping to protest U.S. policies on war/poverty/personal freedom/ - radical left-wing movement, right-wing separatists

All foreign groups or foreign individuals bombing/shooting to protest American gov't: terrorists...

...Patrick Enright, Senior Articles Editor

Yeah, maybe the distinction depends too on whom you're attacking — if it's the people you think wronged you (like the IRS), you're a protester/separatist/etc., and if it's indiscriminate killing of clearly innocent people, you're a terrorist.

Jeneen Interlandi, Reporter
I agree with Kathy. Right or wrong, we definitely reserve the label 'terrorist' for foreign attackers. Even the anthrax guy (not that we ever found him) wasn't consistently referred to as terrorist.

Here is Michael Isikof, one of their chief correspondents:
Michael Isikoff ,Investigative Correspondent
ok, just to weigh in on this — I think some of the comments miss what I take to be the fundamental distinction. The underpants bomber, for all his ineptitude, was equipped and dispatched by a foreign enemy — Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula— whose ultimate leader (bin Laden) has declared war on the United States and who has demonstrated his willingness and intent to inflict mass casualties on our civilian population. That makes underpants man a terrorist and had he been captured overseas, would have made himan enemy combatant— and why the Obama administration dispatches the U.S. military and Predator drones to destroy the people who sent him here. Similarly, the Fort Hood shooter may have been a disturbed "lone wolf" but he was in ideological alignment and in communication with a member of the same foreign enemy.

That makes them both terrorists.

The Austin tax protestor, the anthrax scientist wacko, the Unabomber— all did heinous things that we can describe any way we want — certainly what they did were terrorist acts— but they all remain a very different kettle of fish, which is why Mr. underpants man gets more attention that Austin tax protestor flying plane into building.
It should be immediately obvious that this is all horseshit. (Sorry, no gentler word for it.) Domestic terrorists are so old as to be trite in any number of countries around the world, and especially in Europe, so there is no reason whatsoever to believe Isikoff's distinction is in any way accurate. (Isikoff goes on to do the "of course there can be domestic terrorists" line, but then qualifies his statements by talking about how this guy isn't "a bigger terrorist deal".

Let's be honest. That distinction has NOTHING to do with ideology, and it has NOTHING to do with foreign support. It's race. Pure and simple. If you're brown, you're a terrorist. If you're white, you can't be. And, of course, there is an ideological component. If conservatives hate something, and it's attacked, the attacker can't really be a terrorist. After all, conservatives are always right, and terrorists are always wrong, so they couldn't possibly agree! I mean, look at this:
Devin Gordon
I continue to be fascinated by the divergent reactions between Austin Wacko and Underpants Man, and I think it goes much deeper than the taxonomy of what is a "terrorist." (One simple reason: Tiger Woods didn't step on the Underpants saga the very next day. Sigh.)
Fundamentally, I'm with Dan: a Texan white guy named Joe Stack isn't as interesting / enraging / anxiety-inducing as a Nigerian Muslim named Abdulmutallab. I'm also with Eve: Stack's philosophy, unlike Abdulmutallab's, is pretty kosher with many — maybe even most — Americans. We're basically with him right up to the burn-down-your-house-and-fly-a-plane-into-a-building part of the story. Other than that part, right on, Joe Stack!
If they agree with you? You aren't a terrorist. If they don't? Terrorist.

I'm with Glenn. This says nothing good about Newsweek. Nothing good at all. That this is even up for debate is horrible; that people would make these sorts of statements even more so. Those that seriously argued in favor of this have discredited themselves as analysts and journalists; to the extent that a human being is an ethical being, they've discredited themselves as people.

Considering all the dehumanization going on here, that's somewhat appropriate, don't you think?

To be fair, not all did: Mark Hosenball was absolutely right in saying "I guess it's easier and more convenient — politically correct, even — to use that word to describe someone if they have a beard." I hope that he finds a better publication to work for.

But, well, here's Michael Hersh:

Michael Hirsh , Senior Editor, Washington Web Editor
Isikoff pretty much has it right. Al Qaeda and Islamist extremism co-opted the term "terrorist" after 9/11. No one had any problem calling Timothy McVeigh a domestic terrorist before 9/11.
And Stack is pretty isolated. There was the same fear after OK City. But it turns out there aren't as many copycat killings of this nature as there are, say, school shootings.
Apologies to Sam Jackson, but I DON'T REMEMBER AL QAEDA CO-OPTING A GOD-DAMNED THING. You did that, Hirsh. You did it then, and you're doing it now, and it's so much worse now because you clearly KNOW BETTER.

But here we are. With a pack of racist bastards unworthy of the label "sapiens".

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