One of the refrains that I see repeated on the Huffington Post and elsewhere is that there really isn’t any difference between terrorists (aka “resistance groups” aka “militants”) and the armies that fight them (aka “oppressive regimes” aka “massacre forces”). The typical liberal ideology in regards to international relations, which we shall discuss more about in the future, is that the little guy is always right because he is the poor fighting the rich. In other words, if it’s a war of the perceived “common man” versus “The Man,” it’s obvious who the liberal is going to support, regardless of what the common man is fighting for or how he does it.
Here is a metaphor that I thought of the other day that I hope might clear up the distinction.
I have a neighbor who stomps all over my cherry blossoms on his way to work. I obviously don’t want him to do this, but he feels that it is on a section of our property that belongs to him, though the legal business is still in dispute. There are many ways I could react to this:
1. I could walk over to his house, take a baseball bat and break both his legs. That is war. He is physically incapable of stomping on my cherry blossoms even if he wanted to, and the goal of my walk over there was to render him harmless.
2. I could take my baseball bat, sit in a chair next to the cherry blossoms, and stare at him menacingly every time he walks out of his house. That is deterrence. He is made aware that if he makes a false move here, it will lead to a violent consequence. But the choice is still his to make.
3. Finally, I could sneak into his house in the dead of night and break one of his fingers, then leave a note that if he doesn’t leave the cherry blossoms alone, whoever did it will come back and hurt him some more. That is terrorism. He is too scared to mess with the cherry blossoms, though there isn’t a direct threat to him that he can fight back against. Further, since he doesn’t know for sure that I was the one who did it, he could call the cops and they wouldn’t be able to help him.
HuffPosters love to use the cliché that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” But the distinction is not based on perception. The word freedom fighter is a description of ideology, the word terrorist is a description of methodology.
I’ll be the first to tell you that the Jewish forces of Irgun and the Stern Gang were terrorists, because even though they wanted Israel to be created like the Haganah, their methods were unacceptable. I would expect the HuffPosters to ignore their feelings about Hamas and Fatah’s motivations for just a minute, and question whether or not their tactics and behavior are really something that good liberals should be supporting. Somehow, I don’t think so.