Terrorism: Do we terrorise ourselves?

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Recently after the bombings we had in London, something struck me. One of the people from the Olympic committee that had been celebrating winning the games for London was talking about how we couldn't possibly go on celebrating now this had happened, and I observed to myself the usual "you seemed quite happy celebrating on a day when 5000 people died because they didn't have access to fresh water. What's so special about these deaths", when I noticed just how important the notion that terrorist deaths are special is to the terrorist.

So consider.

The goal of terrorism isn't to kill people, it's to terrorise. That's why they're called terrorists, right?

But all terrorists can do is kill small numbers of people. In a world where hundreds of thousands of people die every day, what they do is nothing.

And most of the time, when small numbers of people die, people aren't terrorised. Imagine if someone was somehow able to induce 500 extra fatal road traffic accidents over the course of a year. (5000 if you're in America.) Would people be terrorised? Most people wouldn't even notice.

But when it's terrorists causing the deaths, people are terrorised. Why?

Surely, it's because we place undue significance on deaths due to terrorism. Terrorism becomes a greater factor in our thoughts than things which kill far more people, because we notice the deaths more. When terrorism occurs, we continue to ignore all the people dying from road traffic accidents, smoking, and so forth, but suddenly focus only on the deaths due to terrorism. If we treated deaths due to terrorism in the same way we treated most premature deaths, we wouldn't even be aware of it.

So terrorism is a two stage process. First, a few people are killed, and secondly, the people are convinced that these deaths are far more important than all the other deaths which are going on around them.

The terrorists can do the first stage, but only the media, the politicians, and ultimately the people themselves can do the second stage.

So when you have, for example, a stadium of people holding a two-minute silence for the victims of a terrorist attack, all the people there are actually inadvertently participating in that act of terrorism. They're mutually reinforcing in each other the notion that those deaths are far more important than the deaths which happen all around them every day, which is the central idea which the second stage of terrorism relies on. Whole countries full of people are tricked into helping terrorism, whilst thinking they're resisting it.

Is this correct? Is this fair? Well, is it?

SilentMasamune

SilentMasamune

I'm all washed up. . .

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You raise some very good points. Terrorism is the act of intimidating people by means of threats or anything of the like. Terrorist attacks occur, especially like the attacks on 9-11, people gathered together to mourn and honor the fall of small groups of people and they even hold memorials. It's like man's way of taking precautions to stand up for themselves against the people who bother them the most, I suppose. Some sort of patriotism kicks in, and they let others know that those deaths that occurred by the terrorists, or the people who attack another group of people or a nation, will not be in vain.

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  • Aug 03, 2005

Dirty

Dirty

too many steps ahead.

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Quote by minebannThe goal of terrorism isn't to kill people, it's to terrorise.


I doubt that is the goal but it's the layer that most people see. It's more like a rebuttal to an arguement someone else started. Their real agenda is hardly ever presented, all we ever see are the superficial layers of creating fear. Still the way they go about it aren't going to earn them any favours. Terrorists don't bomb/suicide/kill for fun so who pissed them off?

Quote by minebannSurely, it's because we place undue significance on deaths due to
terrorism.


People love being scared. We even make horror movies for that.

Quote by minebann
Terrorism becomes a greater factor in our thoughts than
things which kill far more people, because we notice the deaths more.
When terrorism occurs, we continue to ignore all the people dying from
road traffic accidents, smoking, and so forth, but suddenly focus only
on the deaths due to terrorism.


Terrorism isn't as random as traffic or smoking related deaths, you have generally more control over traffic and smoking. You smoke you accept the possiblility of getting lung cancer. While when you take a walk down the park you wouldn't expect to be blown up by a bomb, not yet in my country anyhow.

Why is terrorism emphasised and bolstered by the mass media? So the majority of people accept it as a scape goat for mounting the war on oil, oops I mean terror.

Mass media is a wonderful control mechanism for sheep, you just need to tighten that electric fence.

Attempting to escape the matrix...

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  • Aug 03, 2005
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Quote by Dirty

Quote by minebannThe goal of terrorism isn't to kill people, it's to terrorise.


I doubt that is the goal but it's the layer that most people see. It's more like a rebuttal to an arguement someone else started. Their real agenda is hardly ever presented, all we ever see are the superficial layers of creating fear. Still the way they go about it aren't going to earn them any favours. Terrorists don't bomb/suicide/kill for fun so who pissed them off?

Probably better to describe it as "the deepest common factor", ie. killing leads to terrorising, leads to various socio-political goals, but the last link in the chain varies, so it's more difficult to discuss.

Quote:

Quote by minebann
Terrorism becomes a greater factor in our thoughts than
things which kill far more people, because we notice the deaths more.
When terrorism occurs, we continue to ignore all the people dying from
road traffic accidents, smoking, and so forth, but suddenly focus only
on the deaths due to terrorism.


Terrorism isn't as random as traffic or smoking related deaths, you have generally more control over traffic and smoking. You smoke you accept the possiblility of getting lung cancer. While when you take a walk down the park you wouldn't expect to be blown up by a bomb, not yet in my country anyhow.

With some causes like smoking that's true, but only a fairly small number of them. Certainly there's no big difference between using the road network and using the underground network.

Quote: Why is terrorism emphasised and bolstered by the mass media? So the majority of people accept it as a scape goat for mounting the war on oil, oops I mean terror.

Actually, it's a lot simpler than that. The goal of the media is to deliver eyeballs to their advertisers, and scaring people to force them to pay attention is an effective way of doing that. Participating in terrorism is profitable for them.

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hmm, good points. We're like creating more fear by preventing it from happening.

FredGreg

FredGreg

Cynical pedant.

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Quote by minebann

Quote by Dirty

Quote by minebannThe goal of terrorism isn't to kill people, it's to terrorise.


I doubt that is the goal but it's the layer that most people see. It's more like a rebuttal to an arguement someone else started. Their real agenda is hardly ever presented, all we ever see are the superficial layers of creating fear. Still the way they go about it aren't going to earn them any favours. Terrorists don't bomb/suicide/kill for fun so who pissed them off?

Probably better to describe it as "the deepest common factor", ie. killing leads to terrorising, leads to various socio-political goals, but the last link in the chain varies, so it's more difficult to discuss.

I've thought about this quite a bit one day... I basically came to the conclusion that what makes terrorism 'terrorism' is the fear, as did you. It doesn't matter what the final goal is, the fear may be either means or end, but fear must be a goal. If you kill someone because you want them dead, or you want their stuff, fear isn't a goal, so it's not terrorism. If you kill them to scare their family into giving you their stuff, it is.

But that made me think less comfortable thoughts (which I still agree with): if the defining feature is fear as a goal, the WTO is a terrorist organisation. Violent terrorism may be the form we know best, but the WTO enforces it's mandates by saying 'if you don't, we'll let everyone else slaughter your economy.' It's a better situation than anarchy, & I support it's existence, but the WTO's power comes from fear, economic terrorism.

This is one most people won't want to swallow; nor did I when I thought it up. But if you think about it (& know how the WTO operates), it's true. You just have to realise what makes a terrorist isn't violence, but fear.

OK, I've opined enough for now. Ciao.

Edit: I forgot to put the point - our own institutions are terrorising us, but we don't see it too much in the developed world, at least not from the WTO. All the rest that was said by other people is right too - the terrorists have made us afraid, & made us change our way of life, so they've won. The goal was never to kill all Westerners, that'd be pointless, they couldn't do it. All that crap Bush spouted after 9/11, 'we will not be cowed,' 'we will not change for you,' ect. Well we have haven't we?

  • Aug 04, 2005

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