Saturday, July 02, 2005

One man's anchor is another man's dead weight 

This has been around the blogosphere for some time now, but since I haven't written about it yet, I though I would still put in my ten cents:
In his newscast tonight, "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams compared America's first presidents to the president-elect of Iran, alleged hostage-taker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying they were "certainly revolutionaries and might have been called terrorists by the British crown."
(hat tip: LGF, Michelle Malkin and just about everybody else.)

This is exactly what happens when cliches like "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" become accepted wisdom. This sort of lazy and sloppy relativism might save one from the burden of having to think or make judgments (which is probably one reason why it has become so popular in the media) but it's completely useless as far as helping people to conceptualize and make sense of the world.

In reality, some freedom fighters might sometimes use terror tactics, and some terrorists are also fighting for freedom or independence, but it's patently absurd to suggest that both terms can be used interchangeably, because they don't have any objective content and only reflect one's point of view. So listen, Brian Williams and others, and listen carefully: terrorist is somebody who kills civilians on purpose and as a tactic, either to gain publicity for the cause and/or to intimidate the population. This distinguishes terrorists from those who attack military or security targets and personnel.

Just because you rebel against somebody, like the Founding Fathers did, doesn't make you a terrorist, even as far the British Crown was concerned, unless you can demonstrate that - in this case - the Founding Fathers engaged in murdering civilians to achieve their military and political objectives. You know, things like massacring a village, hanging all the men from the biggest tree on the common, and locking up women and children in a barn and setting it ablaze.

So, Brian Williams, unless you can make such case against the Continental Army or state militias, suggesting that America's first few presidents might have been considered terrorists doesn't demonstrate your sophistication and worldliness but your stupidity.


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