Salon’s Glenn Greenwald made some pretty salient observations about the label “terrorism” in his Friday column:
Terrorism is simultaneously the single most meaningless and most manipulated word in the American political lexicon. The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity. It has really come to mean: “a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies.” That’s why all of this confusion and doubt arose yesterday over whether a person who perpetrated a classic act of Terrorism should, in fact, be called a Terrorist: he’s not a Muslim and isn’t acting on behalf of standard Muslim grievances against the U.S. or Israel, and thus does not fit the “definition.”
Greenwald is, of course, referring to Joseph Stack, a man who flew a plane into a Texas IRS building presumably to protest taxation. Although he left a very clear suicide manifesto behind, few have been willing to label Stack a “terrorist.”
As has been observed before, “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.”
And it certainly seems that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sees the other side of the coin. King stopped short of explicitly praising Stack’s actions, but one can detect a certain underlying approval — after all, as King claims, he’s been trying to “abolish” the IRS for some 30 years, establishing a national sales tax and (although you’ll never hear this inevitable consequence from King) sending the bill for America’s wars, roads, police, and fire departments to the middle and lower classes.
At any rate, Greenwald seems to have forgotten something in his definition of terrorism. He neglects to mention how quickly the right wing was to pin the “terrorist” label to Bill Ayers, once they had established even the weakest of linkages to then-candidate Barack Obama.