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American government uses terrorism, too

I’m a bit reluctant to write a column on terrorism, because many more knowledgeable writers than I have so thoroughly covered the subject, and you’re probably not eager to hear more. However, I have a few ideas on the subject which I haven’t heard anyone discuss, and I’d like to share them with you.

The act of terrorism is particularly heinous because of the way it is accomplished. It usually consists of a perpetrator who has all the power, and a victim who is helpless. Thus, it is the ultimate evil, and can never be excused no matter what justification the perpetrator uses.

While usually we think of terrorism in the aspect of suicide bombing, it is much more insidious, prevalent and widespread than anyone seems to care to think about. So let’s try giving you a newer and more comprehensive definition of terrorism, which I hope you’ll agree with.



Any time anyone threatens the life or psyche of another in an attempt to have power over or to destroy a victim who cannot fight back, there is an act of terrorism. For example, whenever there is spousal abuse, there is terrorism. Wherever there is an act of arson, there is terrorism. Rape is definitely an act of terrorism. So is stalking. Torture is terrorism. Bullying is terrorism, as is shooting up a schoolyard.

And so is violence by any government or quasi-governmental power against a civilian population.




In other words, terrorism is much more widespread and insidious than most of us are aware of. I’m talking of terrorism in all its myriad forms: crazed men crashing planes into towers, deranged suicide bombers, men planting trucks inside public buildings, police bursting into the wrong houses and killing occupants, or governments ordering the assassination of leaders or the bombing of innocent civilians.

No matter how we describe it or excuse it, terrorism is terrorism – and has is no legitimate use, ever!

There’s a puzzling duality here. As individuals, we despise terrorism. When we’re called upon we defend life, freedom and dignity. Look at the magnificent way in which ordinary people like ourselves responded to last year’s bombing.

Can you imagine hundreds of people groping for fire escapes and smoke-filled stairways, not knowing where they were, realizing that they were probably going to die, and still not panicking? Not only was there no panic, not only did men trained to risk their lives in emergencies do so, and often die, but terrified and untrained individuals stopped in their flight to help others who were trapped.

For instance, one remembered hero is the Man in the Red Bandanna who finally disappeared into the inferno after repeatedly rescuing others.

Writing at this late date, I’m still filled with a bursting heart and mind that says: “When the chips are down, truly we are a magnificent people.”

We as individuals can truly be glorious when cries demand it. We have a right to feel proud of ourselves as a people.

All of which leads me back to the puzzling duality. For more than a century, our government has systematically used terrorism throughout the world. It has destroyed the lives, property and government of peoples all over the world. And it’s been true of all parties, so no particular political group can point its fingers at others with impunity.

Here’s a partial list of some of the victims: Native Americans, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Panama, Columbia, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Gen. Smedly Butler, commandant of the U.S. Marines, said upon his retirement that he had spent a lifetime defending not freedom, but the property and profits of corporations. This is not what America is all about, and it’s not what we as a people believe in.

If we are individuals despise terrorism used against us, isn’t it about time we despise terrorism when our government uses it against others?

If we can be heroic when blasted by terrorists, can’t we be heroic in standing up to our own government when it, too, practices terrorism?

Otto Haueisen, an investment adviser in Nevada City, writes a monthly column.


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