“The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”
It seems that there are a few people who would like to have some words with me over my editorial “Let’s Quit it with the T Word.” The criticism is coming from members of both the left and right wing, claiming that I am arguing semantics about “whether a word is applied correctly or not.” So let me make it clear, the word terrorism never has, and never will result in justice being exacted.
The word is bad because it is a tool. It is used to justify policy by eliciting a raw emotional response which allows those in power to push through a people punishing agenda. Immoral tools do not lead to moral ends.
The word terrorism is insidious because it is all encompassing. It applies to any violence that is not perpetrated by states, it does not specify the degree of violence, or name out any specific goals that the terrorists in question are trying to achieve.
This means that First Nations activists blocking roads have been classified as terrorists because they are perpetrating “economic violence.” Protestors of the Toronto G20 summit in 2010 have been called terrorists because they set an empty cop car on fire. Defacing pro-life benches with pro-choice messaging could easily be classified as terrorism.
The T word is a consensus building force. Its use was perfected by those in power, and for progressives to attempt to use it for good is foolish. The same strategy was used across the world in the 90s when liberals attempted to use the logic of free markets and economic rationalism to implement socially progressive policy and values. The result has been the steady erosion of the welfare state over a period of a quarter of a century.
There is no denying that the actions of those in Charlottesville can be defined as terrorism. What should worry progressives is that the same can be said of Antifa. Utilizing the T-word is the height of hubris for progressives.
I sincerely hope this makes things clear. We should move beyond the T-word and call white supremacists what they are: violent racists. The fact that people disagree may disagree with this shows that they acknowledge the power that T-word holds over discourse. It’s a blunt tool that needs to be banished.