Sunday, January 09, 2011

Alarmist Labels

The more I think about the indiscriminate use of the “terrorist” label the more I am concerned by it. Juan Cole at Informed Comment is so convinced of the propriety of the label that he deleted my comment on his blog, in which I asked him to describe where the shooter displayed any desire to “create terror.” So much for Professor Cole’s belief in free speech. Disagree with him or weaken his argument and he will delete you from the discussion.

The more that we apply that label to events and perpetrators of violence, the more we raise a public outcry to “prevent terrorism” in this country. It is in the name of “preventing terrorism” that our government infringes on individual freedoms and places curbs on civil liberties. Does Professor Cole wish to create a society where we must provide identification, take off our shoes and submit to x-ray searches in order to attend a political rally? Perhaps even to enter a shopping mall?

You think that can’t happen? Ten years ago I could not have imagined that I would submit to such a process in order to board an airplane. I do so now because that is our government’s response to public fear; its premise being that it will “prevent terrorism.”

Let’s leave the alarmist rhetoric and fear mongering to politicians who feel the need to use it for the purpose of their own reelection.

Update, Monday morning: Happily, Professor Cole is the only journalist or writer I have seen anywhere who is calling for the Tucson shooting to be referred to as a terrorist incident.

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