September 27, 2004

the frighteners

I've been thinking a lot about the words "terrorist" and "terrorism". It seems to have become such a heavily used term, and has almost become a blanket term for the enemy of the US, whoever and wherever that is. Now, what I mean by this is that I've been hearing it a lot in the US media (both mainstream and more thoughtful), but I've never really heard any analysis of the term itself. And I think that's the key. It's really become a very useful word to apply to anyone who is providing active opposition to the US at the moment. And the reason that's so important, and I think that it's become such a used word is that:

a) It's unequivocal - once someone has been identified as a terrorist, there's really no way that anyone can try to understand their motives, let alone sympathize with them.
b) It can encompass so many different movements (insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban and it's supporters in Afghanistan, and, of course Al Qaeda and all of its offshoots)
c) By encompassing so many groups, it can mask the differences between them, and allows them to appear as all being part of the same group.

Anyway, so I looked up terror, and here's what I got:

1. Intense, overpowering fear. See Synonyms at fear.
2. One that instills intense fear: a rabid dog that became the terror of the neighborhood.
3. The ability to instill intense fear: the terror of jackboots pounding down the street.
4. Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes.
5. Informal. An annoying or intolerable pest: that little terror of a child.

[Middle English terrour, from Old French terreur, from Latin terror, from terrere, to frighten.]

So really, terrorists are people who frighten.

I think that's the problem. It's just such a wide description, and can mean so many things, that it's just become meaningless to me. I hear it, and I'm like - what the hell does that mean any more?

Posted by mthaddon at 03:44 PM

September 20, 2004

Shifting Sands

Just had a weird sensation. I was in a room with no windows, and there was a rumble as someone ran heavily down the corridor outside (or maybe it was a small quake?). After that stopped, I wasn't sure if the floor was still shaking or not, and my sense of balance was all off. How did I know whether I was moving or not? That was it. I didn't. And the uncomfortable, and at the same time eerily enjoyable feeling stayed with me for about a minute.

I don't know why these things mean anything to me. But they do. Maybe it's because I can't explain them. Because there's a chance it means everything I know is falling apart, being torn down, and in a way, I like that sensation.

I'd like to think that, anyway. I can't decide if the reason I love these moments of unstable consciousness so much is because it distracts me from the reality that I don't want to be part of, and that I don't want to deal with, or because it helps me to define my sense of self as being different from everyone else.

Posted by mthaddon at 04:57 PM

September 13, 2004

Ridged

I was listening to Tom Ridge on NPR the other day, and after about the first three minutes, I just felt like I was floating helplessly in a sea of garbled words. Hero united terror response guard national soldier bravery technology accurate distinguished american appropriate vital defense billion budget port saddam safer test epic president colleagues reporting thank you goodnight

Posted by mthaddon at 01:36 PM