They are Terrorists, and They Murder, Not Just Kill

{First published on January 4, 2005] He who frames the concepts of discourse and thought wins more than half the battle. The real world—things as they are—is an ever-dynamic field of sounds, colors, lines, volumes, smells, and textures. We make sense if all and order our lives by the concepts we adopt to describe this reality.

Similarly, in politics, we not only conceptualize it in different ways, but since so much of politics is a conflict over means and ends, how we conceptualize this reality is a weapon in the conflict, especially if a violent one. One example of this should suffice: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Note how “democracy,” “people,” and “republic” have been consciously used to mislead the unwary about the bloody thug and his henchmen that viciously rule these poor people.

Sometimes, however, those using certain concepts just don’t know what they are doing; they are the conceptually unwary who just use whatever concepts other’s, the concept makers—the weaponizers—have employed. But, this is not generally true of the left. They have been good at inventing concepts to further their struggle for dominance, such as the concept of “equality” for the power centered rule by a small elite.

This post is the second in a series on misconceptualizations that lead the compliant media (not the ones who intentionally father the concept) and others astray in thinking about some conflict. The first was on terrorism . This one is on the use of “kill” for “murder.” The next one will be on Marxism.

If a Jane Doe slits a man’s throat and suffocates his children to death, what do we call what she has done? Murder? What do we call a civilian john Smith who packs dynamite into a car and sets it off near a market crowded with other civilians. Also, murder? The proper answer is that it depends on which side of the barricades you are on. Or, whether you even know that the barricades are there.

Consider two examples. From one of today’s news items on the Iraq violence. “BAGHDAD, Iraq – Three suicide car bombs, including one that exploded near the Iraqi prime minister’s party headquarters in Baghdad, and a roadside explosion killed at least 16 people Monday as insurgents pressed their deadly campaign . . . .”

An older news item: “A group holding seven truck drivers, three of them Indians, hostage in Iraq have said they will kill one of them on Friday if their demands were not met.” (They had actually used the word “behead.”)

Note in the first item the use of the term “insurgents,” and in the second “group,” for what are terrorists. And in both items, the concept “kill” is substituted for what is murder. If the Jane Doe and John Smith above were terrorists and snuffed out those lives in Iraq, the major media and commentators would most likely have termed what was done a “killing.”

Soldiers kill enemy soldiers. If soldiers kill civilians, it is murder. If civilians kill civilians, it is murder. Why is this proper terminology not used in the Iraqi violence? Simple. To say that the terrorists killed, rather than murdered, x number of people is to avoid delegitimizing them. Murder is awful, and must be punished. However, if the terrorists are treated as dong what soldiers do, well, that’s combat, and solders can be awarded medals for that. For those who oppose American involvement in Iraq and tend to support the “rebels” or “insurgents” (read terrorists), murder is just too strong a term. It sends an unwanted message.

[First published January 4, 2008] Please. Lets call murder murder, terrorists terrorists, and thus conceptualize these savages and their criminal inhumanity as it should be. I submit. It would make a difference in the public support for the American effort to help democratize Iraq. And the left knows it.

Link of Note

Washington Post-ABC News poll (12/20/04)
Six paragraphs down: “A strong majority of Americans, 58 percent, support keeping military forces in Iraq until ‘civil order’ is restored, even in the face of continued U.S. causalities.” I believe this support would rise well into the 60s if the terrorists and their murders in Iraq were called what they are, with pictures of the victims, just like any murders in the U.S.

One Response to They are Terrorists, and They Murder, Not Just Kill

  1. What exactly are you trying to say? When I started to read your post I was of the understanding that you were going to try to clear things up. Instead you have introduced more labels to tarnish people with. How exactly does this improve anything?
    Referring to Iraqis that are trying to defend their civil liberty from foreign invasion “savages” is hard to take. Surely the savages in this instance have been the oppressive forces of the West, as we are the greedy guilty parties, trying to force a smaller country to submit to our way of thinking; whilst giving us all of their invaluable natural resources.
    What exactly is a terrorist in your opinion? Someone that is desperately trying to defend themselves, and their family; even to the extent that they are willing to forfeit their own life?
    What you seem to believe is terrorism used to be called “guerilla warfare”, which is nonetheless warfare.
    Your comments regarding the media seem utterly naive.

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