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Mis-Defining Terrorism
by John Janney
January 21, 2005

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If you live outside the DC metropolitan area, you likely heard little about a man who parked his van in front of the White House this past Tuesday, threatening to blow it up if his political demands were not met.

There was never any need to worry. The FBI quickly assured the media, and therefore the public, that this is not an act of terrorism. After all, how could it be? The man in the van was white.

But wait. White males can be terrorists, too. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols became terrorists when they blew up a moving van full of explosives outside a federal building.

Perhaps there were other criteria that led the FBI to quickly discount a man parking his van claiming to be full of explosives outside the White House and threatening to blow it up if his demands were not met as not an act of terrorism. Reviewing what the government considers terrorism should bring some light on this subject.

Over 1500 men, all Muslim, were rounded up after 9/11 under the guise of fighting terrorism -- making all 1500 suspected terrorists. How many were charged or convicted? None.

Thousands of Muslims were forced into INS interviews, and many were arrested and deported. How many were charged with terrorism-related crimes? None.

When a serial shooter struck the DC area, authorities treated the crime as a case of serial murder. But when the identity of the suspected serial killer was discovered to be the Muslim-sounding John Allen Mohammed, all of a sudden the crime morphed into terrorism. Mohammed was even prosecuted under a new anti-terrorism law to make sure that he would get the death penalty - even though he, as only an accomplice, would not be subject to capital punishment under current murder laws.

A youthful convert to Islam who found his way into the ranks of the Taliban, then friends of the American government, was quickly labeled a terrorist. We must ignore the fact that the American military's needs dictated a change in who we called ally and who we called enemy and that John Walker Lindh had no way of knowing about America's sudden policy change. After all, Oceania is at war with East Asia. Oceania has always been at war with East Asia.

Despite the fact that the strain of anthrax used in the anthrax postal attacks was identified as originating in labs within America and supplied by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, government officials, like Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz, are now insisting that these attacks were the work of evil-doing Iraqis under the command of Saddam Hussein. ‘Yes sir, them oil-rich Mawzlums musta dunnit.’

How could Americans even think of a white, Christian man parking his explosive-packed van in front of the White House as being a terrorist? TV shows like Fox's “24” constantly remind America to believe that the only terrorism is so-called Islamic Terrorism. According to a recent article published in the Atlantic Journal Constitution, even the show's Iranian-born actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, erroneously claims that 'Although not all the Muslims are terrorists, unfortunately most terrorists are Muslims.' With the fear-industry hard at work preaching hate against Muslims by constantly painting them as America's enemy, it is no surprise this actress holds such a distorted view.

Perhaps such warped views would straighten-out if they took into consideration the killing of 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians and the torturing of countless innocent Muslims in American concentration camps and through the policy of “extraordinary rendition.” Maybe such views should also consider the support our government gives to ruthless regimes that indiscriminately slaughter their own people and those under their occupation just so free access to cheap material and labor resources remain open to American corporations.

But we are not to consider that terrorism or even support for terrorism. It is simply collateral damage incurred while gallantly defending America and entertainment created so you will continue to buy soda pop, supplements, perfumes, prayer cloths and Armageddon novels.

So, who or what defines terrorism? Apparently, that is a luxury enjoyed by those wielding enough media and military power to throw the label around and to make it stick -- but never dare dilute it with facts.

John Janney is a writer, researcher and analyst based in the Baltimore/Washington area.

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