Sunday, October 21, 2007

Terrorist: a play with semantics

So I jump into the latest (and justified) bandwagon of blogging about the recent Glorietta 2 bombing. Before you read on, here's a disclaimer: I do not claim to know who are behind the bombings, nor do I even entertain drawing conspiracies in my head. I do not have enough information needed to draw feasible conclusions, unlike some people who are too air-headed that believe that everything they learn from the media are credible.

So, those who think that I agree with the the theory "Philippine Government are behind the Glorietta bombing incident" after they read my post should fucking go back to school and brush up on Critical Reading.

Capice? Read on, then.

Here's the half-assed gist: a bomb of yet-to-be-determined substance - though the reports now lead to C4 - exploded in a section of a mall located in the business hub of the Philippines. The strangest thing is that the bomb exploded in a less-than-ideal location for a bombing, thus scoring a smaller number of casualties compared to other major acts of terrorism. That doesn't mean to say that its any less tragic: people got hurt, people died, and families are now grieving.

Of course, conspiracy nuts are now happily swarming in the internets, with theories both well-thought out and half-assed. One of the more popular line of reasoning goes like this: the location of the bomb - a near-deserted restaurant delivery route - obviously shows that the perpetrator's aim is not to kill the most possible number of people.

So, who could the culprit be? Many people thus hypothesize that the bombing is a ploy to divert the public's attention from the ongoing scandal the goverment is currently up in shit's creek in; some others believe that this is a ploy for the president to be able to implement Martial Law. Either way is possible, it could be something else. I don't care either which way.

With those theories in mind, people have ruled out the well-known terrorist groups as the cause of the bombing, and are slowly drawing lines towards the government or the military (among other suspects) as the culprits. Thus, conspiracy nuts are now echoing this line over and over again: this is not the work of a terrorist.

This is not the work of a terrorist. I repeat, this is not the work of a terrorist.

Which brings me to the whole (way overdue) point of my post. What's a terrorist, then? Does the term terrorist automatically bring the image of turban-wearing, firearm-toting grunts who go off and blow themselves up in the name of justice? Are people working behind well-polished desks and are clean-shaven not put into the terrorist category, even if they pulled the strings that lead to deaths of many people?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you may want to reconsider your concept of terrorism. Let's turn to the somehow-reliable wikipedia:
It has also been argued that the political use of violent force and weapons that deliberately target or involve civilians, and do not focus mainly on military or government targets, is a common militant, terrorist, or guerrilla tactic, and a main defining feature of these kinds of people.
Its just a shame that those who believe that the government and/or the military are behind the bombing incident repeatedly say the words "This is not the work of a terrorist." What differentiates vicious necktie-wearing personnel from scruffy, dirt-crusted terrorists who use the same means in order to achieve their ends, then?

The main point is this: those who use civilians in order to gain leverage of any kinds are terrorists. Implying that the government or the military cannot be termed as terrorists - if it is indeed true that they are the culprits - just gives them an unwarranted boost above the more common terrorist stereotype. It's unfair. Let's call a spade a spade.

Tl;dr - anyone who kills civilians to achieve any kind of leverage are terrorists.

Yes, this post is basically ambling along semantics, similar to the way some Christians are - quite wrongly - miffed with the way most people chose to replace "Christ" with "X" in the word Christmas. But fuck, it's irritating.


redkinoko said...

If the news at the moment can be called credible, the terrorist group Rajah Sulaiman Bridade isn't actually doing terrorism. It's more of a hostage taking situation since they have threats on innocent people and then have demands for the gov't to fulfill.

Mai said...

Always the comedian, Jet.

redkinoko said...

I was actually being serious there.

Terrorism used to mean terrorizing an enemy to the extent that they feel the effect of a full on attack and react, militarily as such.

The only cases of successful terrorisms are when the people you're terrorizing are occupying a land they are not supposed to and are terrified into retreating. (i.e. Afghanistan, Nicaragua, that other country in Africa that I cant remember)

The mass usage of the word by the media altered terrorism's original meaning.

Applying the same tactics to people who have no reason to go away (i.e. Filipinos in Manila) is somewhat senseless in the sense of terrorism.

Guess I'm not really cut out for political topics.

Mai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mai said...

True, the exact definitiom of the term "terrorism" is still in contest and now has quite a number of different meanings, but all agree on the common denominator that is violence.

However, I was talking about the perpetrators - terrorists - and if the very term itself should be limited to the common stereotype that has been defined by the media.

Jherskie said...

Conspiracy theorist reporting!

What are the odds of a non-military personnel acquiring C4? Whatever way, there had been a breach.

josef said...

Of course, the use of the word `terrorist` is vague. It could be easily defined as `someone who incites terror`, but that definition would then make bullies terrorists. Heh, I suddenly remember the Human Security Act. It might become a precursor to a neo-Martial Law.
Sadly, the concept of white terrorists are hard to swallow. Stereotypes win. Almost always.