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No True Scotsman

March 31st, 2010

It was not surprising that the group recently arrested and charged with plotting to kill police officers, then those mourning at their funeral using IEDs have nowhere in the mainstream media been referred to as “terrorists” or even “terror suspects”. After all, they aren’t Muslims. But, that’s not enough for the political right. Apparently, on the “No True Scotsman” principle, it’s also unfair to refer them as “Christians“.

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  1. Doug
    March 31st, 2010 at 10:58 | #1

    Why not refer to them as “Terror suspects claiming to be Christian” and then we could have “Terror suspects claiming to be Muslims” .

    That gets the reality of what they are doing or planning to do up front – and leaves the question of the authenticity of their claim to a particular faith community up for debate within that community.

    My contribution to that in-house debate would be that according to the New Testament accounts it is pretty clear that Jesus rejected the Zealot political option and was executed for political activity of a non-violent character that was subversive of the Roman empire. It is a big stretch to claim alignment with the way of Jesus as the basis for the reported planned acts of violence.

  2. Paul Norton
    March 31st, 2010 at 11:17 | #2

    By the same logic it is also unfair to refer to Stalin Mao and Pol Pot as “Communists”, but I don’t see the political right following the logic through this far.

  3. Fran Barlow
    March 31st, 2010 at 11:23 | #3

    @Doug

    That argument inevitably opens a can of worms. Any movement with a body of doctrine can claim exclusive right to interpret the doctrine in the current world. Fundamentalists assert that the words mean what they mean, and if there is any ambiguity alleged, then they mean what they say we mean. Very Humpty Dumpty …

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

    It is the case that in some situations, it is difficult and probably a waste of time to try unpicking which parts of a given movement derive from ethnic subjectivity, religious conviction, ethical belief, or whatever. The term “Islamist” has been coined to refer to what is known as “political Islam”, but the problem here is that in popular discourse and popular journalism, people tend towards simplification and ellipsis and this blurs the distinctions.

    Pretty soon, everyone identified with a particular body of theory gets held accountable for everyone else who can be identified with it. As someone who sees marxism as an important tool for examining public policy, I shudder at the frequency with which conservative and reactionary and even liberal commentators throw around terms like “socialist”, “communist” and “Marxist”. Apparently, everyone from Kim Jong Il through Kevin Rudd to Clive Hamilton and Phil Jones is in the same camp. Bizarre.

    Perhaps, like the jihadists this particular group could be described as religious fundamentalists. If something more specific was needed to characterise them, they could be called Jesu-oids as distinct from Muslim-oids. I’ve seen the term “marxoid” so this might work. The prefix “neo-” might also work. Neo-Muslim, Neo-Christian, neo-Marxist etc

  4. AndrewD
    March 31st, 2010 at 12:28 | #4

    Heh, heh!
    I wondered what the Herald Sun would have to say on the matter (‘cos the words mean what the Herald Sun says they mean), but the website is blocked by my employer’s internet filter/firewall because it contains malware. Justice at last?
    So endeth my teabreak!

  5. Andrew
    March 31st, 2010 at 12:36 | #5

    But John, the article you link to calls them both terrorists and christians….. not sure what your beef is here.

    “In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security produced a report warning of a rising threat of right-wing terrorism, citing factors like economic troubles, the election of a black president and perceived threats to United States sovereignty.”

    “In an indictment against the nine unsealed on Monday, the Justice Department said they were part of a group of apocalyptic Christian militants”

  6. March 31st, 2010 at 12:52 | #6

    Pr Q said:

    nowhere in the mainstream media been referred to as “terrorists” or even “terror suspects”. After all, they aren’t Muslims. But, that’s not enough for the political right.

    I guess when US Christian militias finally get around to actually blowing something up, rather than just dressing up, then the “mainstream media” and the “political right” will start to refer to them as terrorists. Meanwhile we will have to make do with common-or-garden terrorists of the kind found in New York, Madrid, Bali, London, Moscow et al.

    Pr Q’s peevish post reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s crack about Lefty intellectuals never-ending dire predictions on the impending doom of freedom in the US:

    He sounded like Jean-François Revel, a French socialist writer who talks about one of the great unexplained phenomena of modern astronomy: namely, that the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.

  7. Michael
    March 31st, 2010 at 13:10 | #7

    @Jack Strocchi
    Good old Tom Wolfe and his merciless derision of US East Coast liberals, I wonder if he now feels vindicated for his support of George W. Bush.

  8. sdfc
    March 31st, 2010 at 13:14 | #8

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran

    I think with these groups the prefix pseudo would be more accurate.

  9. March 31st, 2010 at 13:15 | #9

    PrQ,
    If you were correct then Timothy McVeigh would not be referred to as a terrorist in the mainstream press. He was routinely referred to as such (and, I might add, IMHO correctly so).
    As Andrew points out above, they are referred to (in quoted material) as being “Christians”. A link to “related searches” at the bottom of the page also includes “Terrorism” as the most relevant search.
    I therefore cannot see that you are correct.

  10. Doug
    March 31st, 2010 at 14:06 | #10

    Fran

    Interesting comment – Christianity was initially a movement but whether it can adequately be characterised as “having a body of doctrine” is itself a matter of deep dispute between those wanting to claim ownership of the tradition.

    Bodies of doctrine tend to arise when a movement becomes institutionalised – in relation to christianity historically this really took hold when it was taken over by the empire.

    The movement element has been trying to get out from under that particular disaster ever since it happened.

  11. Fran Barlow
    March 31st, 2010 at 14:12 | #11

    @Doug

    Well most of the groups of Christians recognised as mainstream, and which encompass the bulk of professing christians refer to “the bible” as their body of doctrine, much as Muslims refer to “the recital” (aka the Qu’ran) as theirs. The Catholic church has its canon law as well, while the hadiths concern the Muslim faith.

  12. Marginal Notes
    March 31st, 2010 at 14:32 | #12

    Terrorism is, of course, also “un-Australian” (unless you’re a true blue Australian like Ned Kelly).

  13. jquiggin
    March 31st, 2010 at 15:49 | #13

    @Andrew Reynolds
    “If you were correct then Timothy McVeigh would not be referred to as a terrorist in the mainstream press. ”

    That only shows that in 1995, the press was more consistent in the way this term was used than it is today.

  14. Joseph Clark
    March 31st, 2010 at 16:11 | #14

    The post is a bit ambiguous. Are you implying that the US mainstream media are all on the political right? Maybe compared to you! ;)

  15. March 31st, 2010 at 16:31 | #15

    Pr Q said:

    nowhere in the mainstream media been referred to as “terrorists” or even “terror suspects”. After all, they aren’t Muslims.

    Surely this gets the debate about the lingo framing the “War on Terrorism” exactly back-to-front? One can criticize the Bush- & McCain-REPS and their dutiful scribes in the MSM for any number of sins but definitely NOT for the crime of whipping up “Islamaphobia” over terrorism. Race-card playing was John Howard’s strong suit.

    By contrast Bush and the media bent over back-wards to avoid giving offence to diverse peoples or “people of difference” or whatever they call them now. In fact just prior to 911 Bush took extraordinary steps to put out the welcome mat to visiting Muslims by ruling out any ethnic profiling at airports. Made a point of emphasizing it in the Presidential debates with Gore. And we all know that there were never any problems from that quarter ever again.

    The MSM went along with this part of Bush’s agenda. So that for most the past decade we have been waging a war against an abstract noun – terrorism – with no recognizable referents. I hope I am not the only person who thinks this is passingly strange in war-time.

    I suppose I can see the civic point of this. We don’t want to give unnecessary offence to perfectly decent citizens just because they share a religion with some wild-eyed zealot with a bomb strapped to his chest. Most Muslims are just trying to get by and they should not be hounded for adhering to a religion that, on balance, does more good than harm.

    But perhaps the same consideration can be extended to Christian sensibilities whose particular species of militants have not yet gone through the formality of actually blowing people up.

  16. jquiggin
    March 31st, 2010 at 16:49 | #16

    @Joseph Clark

    To be clear:

    The MSM has declined to use the term “terrorist” here, even while using it in cases where its applicability is far less clear, such as the Fort Hood shootings, and wrt attacks on military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The political right not only wants to avoid calling these guys terrorists, but objects to the MSM calling them “Christian”.

  17. paul of albury
    March 31st, 2010 at 17:02 | #17

    But Jack the point is since the ‘war on terrorism’ officially started it’s a given that Terrorist and Islamic go together. By not explicitly stating Muslim they remove the opportunity to challenge the linkage. That’s what dog whistle politics is.

    I suppose when ‘radical and extremist fringe groups … can be found throughout our society’ labelling them as terrorist may be bad for social cohesion (even though they share the same racial group and tradition)?

  18. March 31st, 2010 at 17:09 | #18

    As noted in the water post, you’re banned for a week

  19. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 31st, 2010 at 18:42 | #19

    Christians ought to be keen to disown those that commit terrorism. In fact a key criticism (valid or otherwise) of Muslims has been that they have been two slow to disown those that commit terrorism in the name of Islam. Christian critics of the Muslim community would be hypocrites if they did not disown those that undertake terrorist acts in the name of Christianity.

  20. E.M.H
    March 31st, 2010 at 18:54 | #20

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/media/30cnn.html?hpw

    People are finally waking up to the liberal, progressive media. It is no coincidence that Fox News has significantly increased its share of the ratings. They are clearly the only objective news network. Fantastic news that Glen Beck’s ratings are up 50% on the previous year. He will go a long way to removing the communist in chief.

    EMH, I banned you a while back. I’m leaving this comment up, only to show how moronic the Republican base is, and how foolish anyone, regardless of their philosophical views, would be who let people like you anywhere near political power.

  21. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:02 | #21

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    In your high and mighty approach TerjeP – you forget something very basic – the reason Christians dont undtertake terrorist acts is because they have access to military hardware that does it for them. Muslim warfare isnt based on access to the resources of Lockheed Martin or the government money to buy it with. Who is the bigger terrorist? The predominantly Christian country with a so called christian government who organises and despatched a massive aerial bobing on a country “pre-emptively” because of incorrect information on weapons of mass destruction and media disinformation or the poverty stricken country that objects to being pillaged who fights with whhat t can afford to fight with?

    Terrorism – if I had to be scared of terrorism – Id be more scared of what resources Bush came armed with.

    Im sick of the moral high ground people push re “supposed” christian views on warfare. True christians would never have sanctioned the merciless bombing of Iraq. Moral attitudes to warfare doesnt exist anymore TerjeP (they were lost with Guernica depicted by Picasso) and christians have proved no more moral than any other group when it comes to war.

  22. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:17 | #22

    Alice – I’m not being high and mighty. And I have not forgotten what you claim I have forgotten. I’m not claiming any moral superiority on the part of Christians. I have routinely denounced Americas pre-emotive war and nothing I have said above contradicts that. Can you please cease your persistant pre-emptive war against my every utterance. You are all together too emotive and you routinely infer opinions that I do not hold.

  23. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:20 | #23

    p.s. For what it is worth I’ve been a devout atheist for over 20 years. Even an evangelical atheist at times.

  24. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:54 | #24

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje you state this comment
    “Christian critics of the Muslim community would be hypocrites if they did not disown those that undertake terrorist acts in the name of Christianity.”

    You dont even see the hypocrisy in it. Bush and the republican conservatives in the US did the very thing you are stating Christains shouldnt do.

    Would you mind agreeing with the fact that the push for the war on Iraq was a terrorist act and came from and was supported by so called Christian right wingers in the US? Id consider that a reasonable acknowledgement that Christians are not superior in any way, shape or form to muslims when it comes to war.

  25. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:58 | #25

    Ill also qualify my above comment – by superior – I mean moral superiority. The Christians are practically superior in terms of access to the resources of war – artillery and weapons. They dont tend to emply suicide bombers but only because they dont need to.

    Morally – no different to Muslims at all.

  26. March 31st, 2010 at 20:01 | #26

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    I have routinely denounced Americas pre-emotive war [pre-emptive]

    Nothing “pre-emotive” about it.

  27. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:05 | #27

    LOl Fran – I didnt notice that Freudian slip of Terje’s…wish I had though!

  28. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:08 | #28

    Fran – it’s my iPhone spell checker. It does some silly things some times.

  29. March 31st, 2010 at 20:09 | #29

    The irony is that the terrorist aren’t just in places like in Iraq (which they weren’t) and Afghanistan. Instead the threat is home grown.

    The common thread to all this? Individuals convinced their view of god/religion is the right one, and they can justify violence with religion.

    Now, what was that saying? For good people to do bad things, it takes religion.

  30. March 31st, 2010 at 20:10 | #30

    BTW – the UK Parliamentary inquiry into the CRU email hack was released today. Very good news for science. Jones et.al exonerated, science declared solid :)

  31. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:14 | #31

    @Mike
    Very good news Mike – but I dont even want to congratulate the announcement.

    The delusionists will attack the parliamentary inquiry as being an organ of the “dreaded government conspiracy against mankind”…lets not give them any more fanciful conspiracy theories than they already carry around so close to their black hearts….

  32. sdfc
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:18 | #32

    The invasion of Iraq was for religious reasons? That’s novel.

  33. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:21 | #33

    Would you mind agreeing with the fact that the push for the war on Iraq was a terrorist act and came from and was supported by so called Christian right wingers in the US?

    Within the lexicon of the Christian right it wasn’t terrorism and as such it isn’t relevant to my point.

    In terms of my own view I think the war was wrong but it wasn’t technically terrorism. The intent wasn’t to advance political goals by scaring civilians with acts of violence. The intent was to use violence to directly remove a government. Civilian casualties and fear were incidental to the process not material. At the end of the day terrorism is a tactic not an outcome. One outcome of the war was no doubt wide spread civilian terror but that wasn’t the tactic. The UN economic sanctions that existed prior to the war were in tactical terms more akin to terrorism.

  34. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:25 | #34

    p.s. I think the war was championed by the Christian right but I think it was initiated by the neo-conservatives. There is certainly a big overlap between those two groups but they are not the same thing.

  35. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:29 | #35

    @sdfc
    Quote Unquote George Bush’s speech pushing for the Iraq war

    “The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children. This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

    There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.”

    http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/20/gen.bush.transcript/

    So sdfc – this was just one speech. Where were you when the religious pro Iraq war rants were happening in the United states? Asleep? And you are trying to tell me religion wasnt used to gather support for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq for all the wrong reasons?

    Tell me what you want to deny next and Ill take a note (of the fact that you will have absolutely no credibility on that subject either).

    Do you want more?

  36. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:34 | #36

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje
    You say “In terms of my own view I think the war was wrong but it wasn’t technically terrorism. The intent wasn’t to advance political goals by scaring civilians with acts of violence. ”

    Is this a soft focus lens you look through? Scaring civilians?? How about killing and maiming and blasting the limbs off civilians (no matter their age). You obviously didnt see the pics from operation massbomb Iraq (or whatever the idiots called it) Terje.

    Maybe you were just reading Murdoch at the time.

  37. charles
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:58 | #37

    John this may answer a lot of your questions.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7538934/Oil-conglomerate-secretly-funds-climate-change-deniers.html

    The people your trying to paint as stupid are making a very nice sum thank you very much. I’d say Koch have got value for money.

  38. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 21:00 | #38

    @charles
    Charles – money doesnt make them smart.

  39. charles
    March 31st, 2010 at 21:13 | #39

    Alice

    Money gives them a reason.

  40. SJ
    March 31st, 2010 at 21:21 | #40

    Terje Says:

    The intent was to use violence to directly remove a government.

    Um, why was that a valid thing to do?

    The UN economic sanctions that existed prior to the war were in tactical terms more akin to terrorism.

    This is a bit of a giveaway that Australian “libertarians” are just brainless flunkies for the US Republicans.

  41. March 31st, 2010 at 21:33 | #41

    Alice :
    @Mike
    Very good news Mike – but I dont even want to congratulate the announcement.
    The delusionists will attack the parliamentary inquiry as being an organ of the “dreaded government conspiracy against mankind”…lets not give them any more fanciful conspiracy theories than they already carry around so close to their black hearts….

    True, but victory is not achieved in a single charge. It comes by making a thousand advances on a broad front.

  42. gerard
    March 31st, 2010 at 22:02 | #42

    Although Eric Rudolph was considered a terrorist by the FBI, he was never labelled one by the MSM back when he was caught in 2003 at the height of terror-mania. IIRC, Sarah “pallin’ around” Palin was even asked if she considered abortion clinic bombing to be terrorism, and said she didn’t know!

    There was also the case in Texas in 2003 of that white-supremacist group caught with a huge arsenal of bombs, including all the components for a cyanide chemical weapon, just in the middle of the Iraq WMD-bullsh*t blizzard. It was never mentioned in the press!

    Strangely enough, despite the deep vein of violence running through the extreme Right, John Ashcroft declared that the biggest domestic terrorism front came from environmentalists and animal-liberation activists.

    See also:Southern Poverty Law Centre: Terror from the Right 1995-2009

  43. March 31st, 2010 at 22:15 | #43

    gerard :
    Although Eric Rudolph was considered a terrorist by the FBI, he was never labelled one by the MSM back when he was caught in 2003 at the height of terror-mania. IIRC, Sarah “pallin’ around” Palin was even asked if she considered abortion clinic bombing to be terrorism, and said she didn’t know!
    There was also the case in Texas in 2003 of that white-supremacist group caught with a huge arsenal of bombs, including all the components for a cyanide chemical weapon, just in the middle of the Iraq WMD-bullsh*t blizzard. It was never mentioned in the press!
    Strangely enough, despite the deep vein of violence running through the extreme Right, John Ashcroft declared that the biggest domestic terrorism front came from environmentalists and animal-liberation activists.
    See also:Southern Poverty Law Centre: Terror from the Right 1995-2009

    One mans terrorist is another mans core constituency.

  44. Donald Oats
    March 31st, 2010 at 23:28 | #44

    They aren’t terrorists, they are our votin’ base!

    More seriously, I expect soon enough someone will refer to them as “domestic terrorists”, if they haven’t already, in the MSM. It’s just that it will be on page 23, or wherever they bury the obligatory odd-ball journalist who does actually think about these things. Mind you, at this stage it is merely alleged, so perhaps it is premature to bung a label as stringent as “domestic terrorist”. Perhaps we could just call them “open carry” tea-party militia…

    It amazes me how many groups of any-government-paranoid citizens (aka first amenders?) there are in the USA. They seem to pop up like weeds. The government paranoia of Timothy McVeigh’s mob was a driving factor behind their vile act, and so it would seem for the most recent suspects. The only question is whether their government paranoia is less than their desire to see some Christian apocalyptic End of Days scenario play out. Either way, the outcome is largely the same – arrest.

    BTW, does anyone else share the view that Christianity is receiving a lot of press coverage lately, in Murdoch’s Australian?

  45. Jill Rush
    March 31st, 2010 at 23:54 | #45

    I am happy to have deviant criminal behaviour labelled as such. However the Soviet attack has been labelled terrorism although at this stage appears not to have been linked to religion rather emanating from the Caucasus region. Perhaps the difference is that the crazed Americans ( who look rather dim in their mug shots) didn’t get around to perpetrating their crimes.

  46. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 06:03 | #46

    Um, why was that a valid thing to do?

    I don’t think it was a valid thing to do. Why do you ask when I’ve made this plain multiple times?

  47. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 06:15 | #47

    Is this a soft focus lens you look through? Scaring civilians?? How about killing and maiming and blasting the limbs off civilians (no matter their age). You obviously didnt see the pics from operation massbomb Iraq (or whatever the idiots called it) Terje.

    Alice – just because something kills mains and terrorises, and is wrong and evil, doesn’t mean it is necessarily terrorism. Terrorism is a particular tactic. Gasing Jews in secret death camps is terrible but isn’t terrorism. Mowing down enemy soldiers who have surrendered with a machine gun is terrible but isn’t terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic. We have other words to say something is wrong, immoral, evil, nasty, inhuman, selfish or whatever.

  48. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 06:17 | #48

    has been labelled terrorism although at this stage appears not to have been linked to religion

    Religion may motivate terrorism but it does not define it.

  49. April 1st, 2010 at 06:40 | #49

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Technically you are right that not all things that are “terrible” (unfortunate choice of word but anyway) are terrorism. The broader point which Chomsky makes though is that a focus on terrorist acts fails to acknowledge the far greater scale of atrocities that states can deploy.

  50. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 07:48 | #50

    Fran – I agree. The fear of terrorism is out of proportion to the real risk. If it wasn’t then terrorism would be far less effective as a tactic. We have not seen a statistically significant increase in death rates attributable to terrorism for decades. It is a low level problem less threatening than the flu.

    However the invasion of Iraq was not sold primarily using a fear of terrorism but the more dire suggestion that Iraq had the will and capability to launch an imminent attack on the west using weapons of mass destruction. This really was a case of extreme propoganda and word play. Techically (ie according to international treaties) tear gas is a WMD. The whole case for invasion was built on emotive hoopla and hysteria.

  51. smiths
    April 1st, 2010 at 15:48 | #51

    did you support it at the time terje?

  52. Ken
    April 1st, 2010 at 17:16 | #52

    I can’t help but see the modern concept of Terrorism as an exercise in spin. Sure, delivering explosives to marginal targets by hand involves brainwashing the poor sods that carry the packages and it’s nasty but delivering explosives that kill people by dropping them, shooting them from cannon, loading them on missiles are all nasty. For the most well armed and armoured forces in the world to morally condemn people for not fighting fair seems more than a bit hypocritical. Perhaps the greatest criticism of ‘Terrorism’ is that it has been a military failure and still people keep doing it over and over again; it can never win over more than those who’s anger and hatred overcomes their intelligence. It’s probably been very helpful to those most engaged in making the war on terror popular that Northern Ireland has settled down; US citizens were the biggest financial backers of the IRA for years.

  53. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 17:39 | #53

    smiths :
    did you support it at the time terje?

    No. I always vocally opposed the invasion of Iraq. It was an aggressive war without any sound basis.

  54. sdfc
    April 1st, 2010 at 18:45 | #54

    Alice :@sdfc Quote Unquote George Bush’s speech pushing for the Iraq war
    “The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children. This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
    There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.”
    http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/20/gen.bush.transcript/
    So sdfc – this was just one speech. Where were you when the religious pro Iraq war rants were happening in the United states? Asleep? And you are trying to tell me religion wasnt used to gather support for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq for all the wrong reasons?
    Tell me what you want to deny next and Ill take a note (of the fact that you will have absolutely no credibility on that subject either).
    Do you want more?

    Mike

    You don’t believe that rubbish do you? Bush was playing to an audience. Iraq was not an Islamic state harbouring terrorists. Bush knew Iraq was not in cahoots with AQ and that they had practically no WMD. Iraq was a victim of US expansionism.

  55. sdfc
    April 1st, 2010 at 18:50 | #55

    Sorry Mike, its Alice I’m replying to. One two many beers I’m afraid.

  56. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 18:55 | #56

    Sdfc – I’m not entirely convinced that Bush was beyond believing his own propaganda. I suspect he was operating in something of an echo chamber.

  57. sdfc
    April 1st, 2010 at 19:10 | #57

    At the end of the day Terje the secular US attacked secular Iraq because its leaders had a grand vision of increasing US influence in the ME.

  58. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 19:25 | #58

    I was commenting more about what Bush believed in terms of WMD more so than religion. I do however agree that the over arching objective was to change the course of ME history and culture. I don’t disagree with this aspiration but I don’t think it was worth it or that it couldn’t have been pursued in better ways.

  59. Alice
    April 1st, 2010 at 20:33 | #59

    @sdfc
    sdfc – one too many beers doesnt excuse you from not being able to follow the train of your own argument on religion being used as an excuse to invade Iraq by the Bush government…or maybe it does?.

    Try reading my responses, to yours, when you are sober.

  60. Alice
    April 1st, 2010 at 20:41 | #60

    @smiths
    Smiths – I wouldnt beleive what Terje says his opinions were on Iraq at the time of Iraq. I wouldnt beleive what he says, now which is

    “No. I always vocally opposed the invasion of Iraq. It was an aggressive war without any sound basis.”

    Terje? Do you have any proof? eg blog quotes? Dates and times etc…

    I could see you in there waving the republican flag for all you were worth in the initial rush to Iraq Terje – it fits ie not much proof in the enviro of blogland but perhaps someone could trace your contemporaneous comments Terje?

    That would indeed be interesting.

    Me? I think you are lying about your opposition to Iraq and Im not surprised…at all.

  61. paul walter
    April 1st, 2010 at 20:41 | #61

    Hmm, looking at the mugshots, they certainly didn’t appeal to the writer as particularly the sharpest looking tools on the rack.
    If they can bang up young Islamist hotheads for ventilating their anger, why not these nutters?

  62. Alice
    April 1st, 2010 at 20:46 | #62

    @charles
    Money gives them a reason to be stupid and a nuisance to human advance. Its always been the way. What are your values? Human advance or engineered obstructionist stupidity for some short term individual profit maximising reason?

    They dont call it the root of all evil for nothing.

  63. sdfc
    April 1st, 2010 at 21:16 | #63

    @Alice

    Alice

    I read your response and replied. It’s not my fault your argument falls down at the first hurdle.

  64. April 1st, 2010 at 21:27 | #64

    Alice,
    You do enjoy accusations of lying, don’t you? I remember arguing the point with him then and he has been consistent – and consistently polite, which is more than can be said for you.
    As for your last comment, it shows such an amazing lack of understanding of the role of money in a society that I somehow doubt that you have read much on the topic. Economics 100, anyone?
    Perhaps you should also review the comments policy – at point 2 in particular. I would have thought that an accusation of lying without any evidence at all would constitute a clear breach of that point.

  65. sdfc
    April 1st, 2010 at 21:28 | #65

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Sorry Terje I misunderstood your point. I have no idea of Bush’s thought processes so maybe you’re right. It was well known the weapons inspections had largely succeeded in disarming Iraq. I read a little book by an ex weapons inspector in the lead up to the war and he said as such.

    They administration may have believed their own propaganda but I don’t believe the intelligence services did. So why did the message not get through? My guess is it was wilful ignorance on the part of the warmongers.

  66. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 22:44 | #66

    Alice – that you publicly call me a liar and then suggest that the onus to prove otherwise is on me makes an interesting statement about your character. I don’t feel any need to prove anything to you. However because others will read this I will defend myself by offering up some evidence.

    The article linked below was written in late January 2003 just before the Iraq invasion. The author calls himself Strawman and he argued in favour of the war. He asks the following questions:-

    How many people have to be killed in the coming Gulf War for it to not to be justified?

    If the war were to bring human rights, removal of sanctions, and democracy to the 22 million people in Iraq, but were to cost the life of one innocent Iraqi, would it be worth it?

    The challenge to the anti-war lobby is to set the US military an objective. How many innocent deaths would make the war unjust?

    He argued that war or no war innocent people would die in Iraq and that on balance war was a better option because it would remove an evil dictator and create a better place for the people of Iraq. For him the question was merely one of cost as in how many innocent lives was an acceptable price to pay.

    You can see the responces to his article in the links at the bottom of the page. You can see that it includes one from me dated 2003-02-06. That comment by me reads as follows:-

    – Iraqi Deaths – How Many is Too Many? –

    2003-02-06 17:35 Terje Petersen

    If you are one of the people that gets killed then I am sure you might ponder the question quite a bit if it were possible.

    In seeking a better world Hitler might have asked how many dead Jews is too many dead Jews. If he did then it was not a very good question.

    Afghanistan does not yet have a democracy. Hamid Karzai is only an interum leader.

    My reasons for opposing the war with Iraq do not relate fundamentally to the question of how many innocent lives is too many. My concern is with the principle of soverignty and world stability, not to mention the treat of terrorism.

    The arguments for war seem to be:-

    1. Saddam is evil. He abuses his people and practices genocide. 2. Saddam is lieing. 3. Saddam is a clear and present danager to us. 4. George.W.Bush is loosing his patience.

    1. I don’t think the evidence of genocide is at all compelling. However I have no doubt that Saddam is a typical brutal dictator. However he is in a very long list of brutal dictators and we seem to avoid war with the rest of them.

    2. Probably but that is not a good enough argument in my book.

    3. He might be a danger. I don’t think it is clear or present. More like murky and possible in the distant future. More of a good reason to monitor him until he dies of old age. A little like Castro in cuba.

    4. Clearly this statement is true. However it is not relevant or valid no matter how many times George Bush says it.

    http://bovination.com/readArticle.jsp?articleID=564214

    My views on the war have evolved somewhat in the last 7 years however my opposition to the war isn’t new and my comments in February 2003 clearly demonstrate that.

    Alice – that is two apologies that you now owe me. However I won’t be holding my breath.

  67. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 1st, 2010 at 23:28 | #67

    Further to the above I trawled through one of my old email accounts and found several instances of correspondance with acquaitances in 2002 and 2003 regarding the propect of an invasion of Iraq. I’m not going to publish all that correspondance here but if I did it would show a clear opposition to the war. Of course even if I did publish any such correspondance Alice could in any case still just claim that such correspondance is fraudulent. Regardless here is a copy of an email I sent to the SMH on the 8th of August 2002. I don’t believe it was ever published and I think it is poorly written (due to passionate haste I suspect) however it demonstrates my outlook.

    Daniel McCormack (SMH letters 08/08/2002) suggests that there are parallels between an attack on Iraq and the history of WWII. At a recent get together the Arab nations pledged that an military attack on one Arab nation would be regarded as an attack on all Arab nations. Iraq was present and included in that pact. To boldly declare war on Iraq would be to repeat the folly that Hitler engaged in by believing that an act of aggression can be successfully contained and would not bring other parties into the conflict. Hitler made that mistake. Why should we.
    Iraq has asked the UN to negotiate terms for letting weapons inspectors back into Iraq. They want clear terms because last time the UN looked for weapons they spent many years looking, found nothing and still would not lift economic sanctions. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died as a result of those sanctions. Iraq quite reasonably wants to know that if there is no evidence of a weapons program on the next series of searches then will sanctions be lifted and can it get on with rebuilding its broken infrastructure. At the moment there is no evidence of a weapons program in Iraq there is just conjecture, opinion and posturing.

    Iraq may be undemocratic. However so is Pakistan and they already have weapons of mass destruction. So is China. So is Saudi Arabia. And on the list goes. Are we to invade every nation that does not meet our democratic ideals. Not with my blood thankyou.

    What September 11 has to do with weapons of mass destruction or Iraq is beyond me. Saudi terrorists hijacked airplanes with $5 box cutters. There is no link. There is just blind rage and fear.

    The only reason we should go to war is in self defence or to assist our allies in self defence. Declaring war on Germany was the correct decision. Declaring war on Iraq after it invade Kuwait was the correct decision. Declaring war on Iraq today is not.

    Terje Petersen

  68. Alice
    April 2nd, 2010 at 19:12 | #68

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje says

    “Alice – that is two apologies that you now owe me. However I won’t be holding my breath.”

    Thats a shame Terje and judging by the length of some of your recent posts…you clearly didnt.

  69. Alice
    April 2nd, 2010 at 19:22 | #69

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Andy – Im flattered you keep trying to make a point with me but I barely recall addressing any point to you in this thread???

    Normally I dont – you have such a rosy view of unregulated markets and the precendence that individual liberties and free choice should take over any other forms of market structure organisation – well I can only honestly say I dont share your views.

  70. Alice
    April 2nd, 2010 at 19:52 | #70

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    But perhaps Terje…on your views on Iraq as traced back by you….I agree with what you said back then. So thats one apology…. yet not on your auto pilot anti government stance and certainly not on your peddling of denialist AGW agendas.

  71. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 2nd, 2010 at 20:34 | #71

    Alice – apology accepted.

  72. libertarian
    April 3rd, 2010 at 02:47 | #72

    Christian Democrats

  73. Freelander
    April 3rd, 2010 at 06:10 | #73

    I always thought the argument for a war with Iraq was: Sadam Hussein lives in a foreign land: Hilter lived in a foreign land. Sadam Hussein has a mustache; Hitler had a mustache. I had never recognised that so much thought had gone into the justification.

  74. Alice
    April 3rd, 2010 at 13:25 | #74

    JQ – delete the spammer at 22.

  75. April 3rd, 2010 at 16:42 | #75

    I’m pretty sure the reason they are not being referred to as “terrorists” is that they were not targetting civilians.

    They people in this story were targetting police officers who are in effect the ground forces of their claimed enemy (the US government).

    Whatever the word “terrorist” originally meant, it nowadays is pretty much only applied to people who explicitly target civilians in order to achieve a political goal (as opposed to armies that target civilians in order to achieve a military goal e.g. The bombing of London in WWII). . People who target soldiers are (enemy) soldiers.

  76. April 3rd, 2010 at 16:47 | #76

    Under this definition the nutters who blow up abortion clinics are terrorists, because Doctors are civilians. These nutters who targetted cops are not terrorists, nor are the people who targetted US armed forces on their own bases like this guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nidal_Malik_Hasan. In fact he hasn’t been charged with any terror-related offenses, only murder.

  77. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 3rd, 2010 at 18:39 | #77

    Yobbo – I agree. That was the point I made earlier that somehow lead to accusations that I supported the invasion of Iraq. It is pretty tribal on the John Quiggin blog. The mentality seems to be that if you’re not with us on every issue then you’re obviously against us on every issue.

  78. Alice
    April 3rd, 2010 at 18:43 | #78

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Totally wide call remark Terje – but I muist admit Ive noticed people and the general consensus against you more often than not…
    however I was pleased to see you had some decent views on Iraq.

  79. Alice
    April 3rd, 2010 at 18:44 | #79

    I dont suppose its ever crossed your mind Terje that some (quite a few) here see you as being tribal in your libertarianism…seeing as accusations of tribalism are flying around (emanating from you).

  80. Jill Rush
    April 4th, 2010 at 08:57 | #80

    Yobbo #25

    They could be terrorists if they had succeeded in doing anything as the press is not that fussy about labels or fine distinctions.

    The point that Prof Q was making was that in dog whistle politics there is something of a blindness to the behaviours emanating from the fanatical right lunatics in the USA – which has in recent years given us Timothy McVeigh and Waco. What concerns me is that the hard right in the USA have dog whistled up people who don’t know where to draw the line and the GOP has not made any attempt to moderate language in response to the kinds of threats made after the passage of the weak health changes.

    The leadership of the Republicans has encouraged those who seek Armegeddon and will be inclined to engage in “rebellion” rather than “terrorism”. It will no doubt be some time, if at all, before there is a recognition by the right wing press that the dangers from within are possibly worse than the external threat. This is incredible as it will make it harder for authorities to deal with external threats too but for the Republicans it is their strategy to gain control of Congress. They are a rabble but they are so dangerous because they are an armed rabble.

  81. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 4th, 2010 at 16:10 | #81

    The whole dog whistling analogy is rather limited in my view. It seems to be a device designed to maintain political correctness. If you express a reasonable mainstream view on immigration (eg we the democratically government will decide who comes to this nation and the terms on which they come) then somehow your in league with the devil to conjure up Nazi zombies who will kill coloured people. It’s a stupid device designed to ignore the substance of what people actually say and instead to judge some strawman position instead. Why not judge people for what they say and do, the good the bad and the ugly, rather than what you imagine that some people imagine they might have meant.

  82. jquiggin
    April 4th, 2010 at 16:36 | #82

    Yobbo, the Fort Hood shootings were regularly described as terrorism

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/us/politics/20hood.html
    http://www.examiner.com/x-25653-FBI-Examiner~y2009m11d7-Ft-Hood-shooting-This-is-a-domestic-terrorist-attack-Gen-Barry-McCafferty

    And, even if you regard police officers as military targets, that can’t be extended to mourners at a funeral. It’s hard to conceive of a definition of terrorism (other than one in which certain groups are automatically excluded) that would not cover the accusations in this case.

  83. Freelander
    April 4th, 2010 at 23:23 | #83

    “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” (to borrow from Humpty Dumpty) As well as the use of terms terrorist and terrorism, there is also calling suicide bombers ‘cowards’ and their acts ‘cowardly’. There are many derogatory terms that could be used to characterise the acts of suicide bombers, but calling them cowards and their acts cowardly is a very non-standard use of these words. “The question is, who is to be master”, the speaker and the uses of the moment, or the, until then, common usage, “that is all.”

  84. Hal9000
    April 5th, 2010 at 11:17 | #84

    It seems to me that appropriating the word ‘terrorism’ for people and ideas we don’t like is hardly new, and that the Global War On Terror continues this long tradition. In the popular mind, terrorists are caricatured villains, and therefore the label cannot possibly be applied to righteous god-fearing folks who have somehow gone astray. The sordid tale of coverup of the lethal anthrax letters incidents that ocurred after the World Trade Centre atrocities was surely about focusing the public mind on muslim fanatics, and away from the numerous homegrown ones.

    As has already been pointed out in this thread, there is little to differentiate in tactics and results from state as opposed to non-state violence – assassinations, torture and use of bombs in circumstances where non-participants will certainly be killed are all part of the policy apparatus of many of Australia’s allies. Now that the US is wanting to cut back its ruinously expensive military exposure in the middle east, battalions of people formerly known as terrorists have been quietly rehabilitated and made respectable members of nominally sovereign friendly governments. OBL remains the bogeyman of choice, conveniently invisible but mysteriously able to recruit and maintain a never-ending supply of lieutenants, right-hand men, and ‘number 3 leaders’ in his non-organisation whose grainy photographs and names flit across the headlines, recording the white hat wearers’ parade of victories.

    At an institutional level, domestic counter-terrorist administrators have a long history of ignoring threats posed by non-target groups. J Edgar Hoover’s notorious eye-aversion to the activities of the Mob in order to focus on ‘crypto-communists’ had its echoes in ASIO’s ignoring the Ustasha while surveilling MPs and union leaders. To some extent I suspect the many and scary people and grouplets of the right were mollified by the adoption of much of their program and rhetoric by the Bushies. The hysterical reaction to Obama’s mild reform measures points to a likely resumption of violence by the US extreme right. But it’s rarely going to be called terrorism.

  85. Freelander
    April 5th, 2010 at 12:30 | #85

    J Edgar Hoover averted his eyes from the mob’s existence and activities, and the mob averted their eyes from Hoover’s penchant for dressing up in women’s clothes and preferring the company of men. Seemed fair exchange.

    Another useful word or phrase is WMD, weapons of mass destruction. Under the FBI’s definition (in legislation) WMD includes anything with more than 4 ounces of explosive. The conflation of the idea of WMD and elevation of its status, seems to be a cunning means of minimising the distinction between nuclear weapons and all others. Maybe it is intended to make the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which would only be used on another party that does not possess them, more acceptable. The handy thing about WMD is, given that it is now defined to include 4 ounces of explosive, that your enemy is bound to have some.
    If the US and UK had had the least suspicion that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons, you can be sure they would never have invaded Iraq. The rapidity with which the US shut up about North Korea, when North Korea acquired a couple of small nuclear devices, certainly demonstrated that. Fighting an opponent that has real WMDs involves far too many body bags (or is that ash trays?).

  86. April 5th, 2010 at 17:42 | #86

    Freelander you couldn’t be more wrong. The US would have no compunction about invading another state with nuclear weapons, unless they had ICBMs. Tactical Nuclear weapons are no more likely to hit US territory than conventional bombs are. The US maintains total air superiority in most places of the world.

    The reason North Korea is so hard to deal with is not their nuclear capability, which is minimal at best. It’s because they could level Seoul – a city with a population over 10 million – with regular artillery before anyone could blink.

  87. April 5th, 2010 at 17:50 | #87

    The point that Prof Q was making was that in dog whistle politics there is something of a blindness to the behaviours emanating from the fanatical right lunatics in the USA – which has in recent years given us Timothy McVeigh and Waco.

    I understand Q’s point. My response was that he is imagining it.

    And the lunatics involved in WACO were mostly on the side of the government, They killed 75 people including 25 children for the crime of refusing to leave their house.

  88. Alice
    April 5th, 2010 at 17:52 | #88

    @Yobbo
    Yobbo – I hardly think the US for all its war noises is going to go into Iran or Korea and what are they both building?. The US war glory days are over Id say for quite a while. No decisive victory in Afghanistan. No Osama Bin Laden’s head on a plate. No glory from Iraq (and no rebuilding) and lots of unhappy soldiers and families at home. Add a recession, an economy thats tanked and war isnt whats on American’s minds. Its nice to pretend but…its a useless exercise with no political will or mileage in it right now. Its time to play the international diplomat and Obama is doing very well at that game.
    Now he only has to turn the spotlight on the right wing lunatic fringes within the US and get them in line. Time to clean up the homeground.

  89. Freelander
    April 5th, 2010 at 18:10 | #89

    @Yobbo

    If nuclear weapons are no more likely than conventional bombs then you are saying they are a certainty, because the US has been hit by conventional bombs plenty of times. As for getting a nuke into the US, given the tonnage of drugs that manage to make their way there, that would not appear to be insurmountable.

    If the American’s had the least worry that Iraq could have dropped a nuke on invading US forces they would never have invaded. They only invaded because they were sure they had nothing to worry about.

  90. Alice
    April 5th, 2010 at 18:25 | #90

    @Freelander
    Agree Freelander. Iraq was no threat and the Bush regime knew itb and of course all the BS that peredicated that war has come home to roost now and the millions that demonstrated against it across the globe didnt matter one bit – it was the political relief valve for the world trade centre bombings that was going to get Bush’s government political kudos and mileage and at the same timje give them a chance to push the neoliberal agenda by rewarding their private sector war cronies like Halliburton with taxpayers blood sweat and tears *(and even play out some oedipal inadequacy complex for granddady Bush by knocking off his old enemy Saddam) – why the hell do these rich spoilt and somehwhat dumb prats get to run US politics?.

    …even Bush said “we hit the trifecta”.

  91. Hal9000
    April 5th, 2010 at 19:07 | #91

    @Freelander
    I don’t buy the idea that JEH’s choices of targets were entirely, or even primarily, a function of his vulnerability to blackmail. Much more likely he and organised crime formed a working relationship in displacing the legitimate activist leadership of the American labour unions during the 30s and 40s, allowing Hoover to focus the agency’s attentions on what Hoover correctly identified as threats to the American way of life: civil rights organisations and the broad US left. Hoover also performed a service to organised crime in eliminating its anarchic wing and allowing it to prosper in fringe legitimate businesses like casinos and participation, through the compromised labour unions, in commercial cartel arrangements. JEH’s position at the centre of American political power structures was so carefully nurtured during the anti-communist hysteria of the 40s and 50s that he was effectively invulnerable. The Kennedys, who would no doubt have been aware of Hoover’s unconventional sexuality, were unable to dislodge him. But then again Hoover kept quiet about the Kennedys’ equally sensational sexuality. At any event, IMO Hoover saw his mission in life as perpetuating and extending the social and political relations that facilitated the continued accumulation of capital by the US ruling class. This he did very well indeed, and was appropriately rewarded with real power.

  92. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 5th, 2010 at 19:27 | #92

    They killed 75 people including 25 children for the crime of refusing to leave their house.

    Not doing what you are told is a serious crime. Up there with rape, murder, arson, torture, you name it.

  93. Freelander
    April 5th, 2010 at 22:55 | #93

    @Hal9000

    The mob did have photos, and Hoover knew if he saw no evil in that direction, no one would see what he liked to do in his spare time. People may have ‘known’ things but having the ‘goods’ is something different.

Comments are closed.