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The spinning BBC

On today’s morning news, a BBC presenter referred to the Chechen terrorists responsible for the Beslan massacre as zealots. I think zealots ought to be told…

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45 comments to The spinning BBC

  • fnyser

    I have not heard them referred to as terrorists outside of blogs yet. Rebels or militants is what they seem to be. I’m not sure what you have to do to be labeled a terrorist by the media these days – Maybe urinating on the UN.

  • But then we all know the extent to which the BBC will contort the language to minimise using the word te… terr… terro… TERRORIST! I mean, that might suggest a moral judgement by the famously impartial BBC. And we would not want to pass judgement on people who occupy a school and then slaughter parents and children now, would we?

    Just be thankful they did not call them ‘militants’ or even just ‘activists’.

  • GCooper

    I’m glad others have growled at the radio when they’ve heard this sort of rot, too.

    My favourite was R4 which, at one stage, described these murderous lunatics as: ‘Chechen attackers’.

  • J

    Well, they are zealots – in fact by pointing out the religious underpinnings they’ve made a worthwhile point.

    As to calling them terrorists (which the BBC has been, at least on the Today programme), I’m not sure it’s very accurate anyway. ‘Murderers’ or ‘Extremists’ seems more appropriate. The link between the killing and any coherent political goal seems to be getting weaker. Terrorists use fear to achieve a political objective. These people seem more interested in simply creating the fear, as if that were the goal in itself – to hurt the enemy in any way possible, but without the desire or expectation of any result beyond that. It’s closer to a death cult than a terrorist organisation.

  • Gazaridis

    Sky, ITV have used the T-word. Even the Independent did. Guardian thinks they’re just militants though

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1297156,00.html

    Meanwhile, BBC official policy is to refer to terrorists in Ireland as terrorists but not anyone else. Except for the IDF, of course (see “Violation 1”)

    http://www.honestreporting.com/articles/reports/BBC_In-depth.asp

    And if you search for “Terrorist” on the BBC news site, you find the results are overwhelmingly other people’s reactions or paraphrasing other reports.The BBC refuses to use the T word even though it is a matter of definition, not opinion.

  • Alan G

    BBC News Online also refers to them as “attackers”. Utterly contemptible.

  • The problem some people have with the word “terrorist” is that any widely-used definition seems to imply that what a government does is not terrorism, but the same act by a group that is not a government is terrorist. To simplify, carrying a bomb into a building is “terrorism”, but dropping the same bomb on the same building from an aeroplane is not “terrorism”

    It is possible to formulate a definition that does not make this implication, but because such a definition is not the normal one, applying it consistently would appear even more strongly to be making controversial political points than the BBC’s current policy. To take a few examples: was the bombing of Belgrade’s TV station terrorist? Was the 1940s French Resistance a terrorist group? Was the hijacking of an airliner to crash into the Pentagon (military target!) a terrorist act or not?

    The BBC is trying to avoid making these judgements in their reporting by not using the word at all. Kidnapping a school full of children and then blowing them up is so clearly terrorism by any definition that they have let the word leak out a few times, but even doing that opens them to accusations of inconsistency.

  • The Chechens might have a problem with being called zealots as well.

  • France2 news used the word terrorist, but only because they were quoting the Kommersant newspaper. http://info.france2.fr/mond/4159261-fr.php

  • France2 news used the word terrorist, but only because they were quoting the Kommersant newspaper. http://info.france2.fr/mond/4159261-fr.php while blaming “all the goverments of the world”

  • Gazaridis

    The problem some people have with the word “terrorist” is that any widely-used definition seems to imply that what a government does is not terrorism, but the same act by a group that is not a government is terrorist. To simplify, carrying a bomb into a building is “terrorism”, but dropping the same bomb on the same building from an aeroplane is not “terrorism”

    Correct. That’s a war crime, not terrorism (assuming it is not a legitimate target). Terrorism and War Crime are similar terms, but apply against non-state and state actors respectively. Terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilian non-combatants with violence to acheive some political end, by a non-state group. If a group of soldiers went into a school and killed the kids, it would be rightly denounced as a war crime.

    It is possible to formulate a definition that does not make this implication, but because such a definition is not the normal one, applying it consistently would appear even more strongly to be making controversial political points than the BBC’s current policy. To take a few examples: was the bombing of Belgrade’s TV station terrorist? Was the 1940s French Resistance a terrorist group? Was the hijacking of an airliner to crash into the Pentagon (military target!) a terrorist act or not?

    I don’t know specifically about the bombing of the Belgrade TV station, but as another example, the bombing of Iraq’s TV station by the USA was condemned by Amnesty as a War Crime. The French Resistance, as far as I know, were not a terrorist group. The attack on the Pentagon, if taken in isolation, was not a terrorist attack, as civilians were not the target (the plane passengers were “collateral damage”).

    The refusal to call the perpetrators of the Beslan massacre terrorists, is like refusing to call someone who forces another to have sex with them a rapist. It’s an attempt to deny that anything wrong happened.

  • Correct. That’s a war crime, not terrorism (assuming it is not a legitimate target). Terrorism and War Crime are similar terms, but apply against non-state and state actors respectively. Terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilian non-combatants with violence to acheive some political end, by a non-state group. If a group of soldiers went into a school and killed the kids, it would be rightly denounced as a war crime.

    That’s a reasonable way of putting things. However, note that the BBC does not
    routinely refer to armies hitting civilian targets as “war criminals”. It does
    not announce, “One plane is believed lost after attacks last night by RAF war criminals on targets in Baghdad”, or “Russian war criminals have advanced into Chechnya”. It’s job is to report, not to make judgements of that kind. It
    may well report other people’s judgments (“Amnesty International has accused
    Uncle Tom Cobbleigh of war crimes …”), but as a matter of course it uses
    more neutral terms to describe events. On the same basis, it is reasonable
    to use neutral words when reporting similar actions by non-state combatants, and
    save accusations of terrorism — even when obviously justified — for commentary and reporting of opinions.

    The formulation of this policy was probably driven by the BBC’s pro-palestinian bias, but it seems to me to be defensible independent of that.

  • Verity

    Andrew – we all know what the BBC’s job is supposed to be. Impartial reporting. But they have awarded themselves a mission for which they have no remit, which is converting Britain into a multicultural country against the wishes of the people who own the country. In BBCWorld, there are only zealots, attackers, rebels and extremists. One they don’t seem have used in this latest episode of craven cruelty is ‘separatists’. This is a word they usually have a lot of use for. For example, ‘separatists’ (read, of course, Muslims prepared to perpetrate terror) in ‘the disputed territory of’ Kashmir. Kashmir is legally part of India, but not in BBCWorld.

    I first noted the BBC going the Gramscian route around 20 years ago on the World Service, when they began to refer to tribal warfare in Africa as “warring factions” rather than use the word ‘tribal’. From there, they slipped quietly over to using the absurd construct, “the warring clans”. That’s when I stopped listening to the BBC World Service.

  • J

    One problem is that the BBC is trying to be internationalist – rather than Anglocentric. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to say that Kashmir is legally Indian territory. Whose law? It seems reasonable to talk of ‘Irish separatists’, because they want NI to be separate from the UK. Likewise Kashmiri seperatists want Kashmir to be seperate from India.

    Hell, even the Basques are seperatists, and I can’t think of a single country in the world that recognises the Basque country as not legally part of Spain.

    You can of course talk about ‘seperatist terrorists’, although it sounds stupid and copy editors wouldn’t let you :-).

    It’s worth remembering that the difference between a terrorist and a criminal is that one has a cause that’s slightly loftier than ‘getting rich’. Oddly enough, that makes people think less of them.

    1.”Let’s kill a couple of Securicor drivers and steal the van load of money”

    2.”Let’s kidnap two people and kill them to bring attention to the cause Obscuristani independence”

    Personally, situation 2 strikes me as morally superior to situation 1, although both are morally bad – and yet I feel I’m in a minority.

    Remember:

    Put on a T-shirt, kill a man in uniform and win, you’re a freedom fighter.

    Put on a T-shirt, kill a man in uniform and lose, you’re a rebel.

    Put on a uniform, kill a man in a T-shirt and win, you’re special forces counter insurgency fighter.

    Put on a uniform, kill a man in a T-shirt and lose, you’re a war criminal.

    Put on a uniform and kill a man in a uniform for your country, you’re a soldier.

    Put on a uniform and kill a man in a uniform for money, you’re a mercenary.

    Put on a T-shirt and kill a man in a T-shirt for money, you’re a murderer.

    Put on a T-shirt and kill a man in a T-shirt for your country, you’re a terrorist.

    Hey Ho.

  • Jacob

    As Barry Goldwater famously said: “Being an extremist in pursuit of freedom is no vice, being a moderate in pursuit of justice is no virtue”.

    Being impartial between mass murderers and their victims is no virtue. “You are either with us or with them”, there is no middle way.

    On whose side is the BBC ?

  • A_t

    Oh well Jacob, of course they’re on the side of a**holes who blow up children. Yeah, that makes sense.

    Or maybe you’re jumping to polarise the world into with/against, in order to make some cheap political point against ‘lefties’, ‘tranzis’ or whoever else you currently don’t like, out of a terrible human tragedy.

    The BBC coverage I’ve seen has in no way been “impartial between mass murderers and their victims” & I would challenge you to find a single member of BBC staff who had even entertained such a concept for 2 seconds. The terminology they choose to employ does *not* indicate an ambiguous attitude towards child murderers. I shouldn’t think people watching the coverage need to have it explained that the bad guys are the ones killing children in cold blood. Seems a fairly safe assumption that most people will recognise this as a terrible, awful thing to do, without needing this spelt out for them.

    How stupid do you take the public to be?

    Have you actually watched any of the BBC coverage?

  • Acer

    Hey, stop complaining; things are improving at the BBC. At least they are accepting that Chechens were involved. On Friday BBC 10pm news reported that “The Russians are seeking to blame Chechens”, as if there were other more likely suspects (the Bush twins maybe?).

  • Jack

    Gazaridis; it’s more like refusing to call it rape when someone slits a throat and then fucks the still warm dead body. This is a call for the rise of a suppressive actor on the scale of Hitler or Stalin. Lubyanka will soon be operating again and we will be outsourcing from Gitmo. Mark my words!

  • mike

    J: I’m taking the liberty to venture a hypothesis regarding your view of situation 2 as ‘morally superior’ to situation 1 even though they are both bad.

    It is because a lofty political goal like liberating the people of a region from the rule of some disapproved-of power (like say the UK from the EU) is far more difficult to achieve by killing two people than is simply getting rich – in other words there is a higher probability of failure in situation 2 than in 1, and a higher probability of success in situation 1 than in 2. So I venture it is the difficulty and improbability of achieving the goal in question that makes you think 2 is ‘morally superior’ to 1. Though I think maybe you should just say ‘superior’ and not ‘morally superior’.

    To keep this post on-topic, I agree with A_t. The BBC’s coverage of this hasn’t been that bad. I’m pretty sure the Marxists (and there are still plenty of those left) don’t like the BBC either, but not for the same reasons as us…

  • J

    “Being an extremist in pursuit of freedom is no vice, being a moderate in pursuit of justice is no virtue”.

    That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard!

    [goes off and googles for Barry Goldwater]

    Ah. Figures. 🙁

  • GCooper

    A_t writes:

    “Oh well Jacob, of course they’re on the side of a**holes who blow up children. Yeah, that makes sense.”

    Perhaps, in a sense, it does. They are certainly arseholes who support the Palestinians (who are not beyond blowing up a few children here and there) and there is clearly a pro-Moslem bias to much of the BBC’s World Service output.

    Many, myself among them, feel that what the BBC and its apologists claim to be impartial reporting is, in fact, highly partial and often very selective. The conspicuous refusal over the weekend to include reports that a number of “Arabs” were alleged to have been among the terrorists was just one example of this.

    No, I don’t suppose there were any over at Wood Lane who were secretly cheering on their boys in Beslan. That would be far too crude.

    But what happens if you ask how many inside the corporation, brought up as student radicals on a diet of warmed-over Mao, Chomsky and Che, are not, in their hearts, always fundamentally sympathetic to a ‘separatist’, ‘revolutionary’, or ‘rebel’ and you get a completely different answer. If you’re honest, that is.

  • Jacob

    A_t,
    You seem to be a honest and reasonable person. Do you think the use of the term “terrorist” is unjustified ? If you don’t thik so, then what’s the difference between you and the BBC ?

    No, I haven’t seen the BBC coverage.

    What is wrong in stating flatly that this is a despicable, sickening case of mass murder ? Why does the BBC hold back ? Do you have a more benign explanation, from the perspective of an “unbiassed” person (yourself) ?

    By the way, if they hate the word “terrorist” they could call the perpetrators just beasts, it would be ok with me.

  • Jacob

    By the way: here is Dan Darling at “Winds of Change” explaining at lemgth the true nature of those “independence fighters” that the BBC goes out of it’s way in trying to not offend.

  • Verity

    J – By whose law is Kashmir an Indian state? The boundaries constructed and agreed upon by the Premiers and Cabinets of India and Pakistan upon partition. This wasn’t imposed on poor, innocent little Pakistan.

    Partition was months in negotiation. It is neither ‘disputed’ nor a ‘territory’. It is an Indian state, the way Buckinghamshire is an English county and Colorado is an American state.

    The BBC has no excuse for pandering to these individuals by constantly referring to it as a disputed territory. In fact, pandering to of such a (wrongfully) powerful entity as the BBC amounts to aiding and abetting terrorists.

  • GCooper

    Jacob, particular thanks for that link to the Winds of Change article.

    I have no way of knowing to what degree one can trust its factual accuracy, but where it touches on matters discussed in sources usually reliable (at least one part of the Sunday Telegraph’s coverage yesterday, for example) it rings chillingly true.

    I do hope other readers and commentators follow and read. If the posters are right, this is information we need and are not being given by the people we pay to keep us informed.

  • Shawn

    “Oh well Jacob, of course they’re on the side of a**holes who blow up children. Yeah, that makes sense.”

    Yes it does. The BBS IS biased towards Arab/Islamic causes. The BBC’s coverage of Israel/palestine is so biased that the Israeli government will no cooperate with the BBC and for good reason.

    BBC reporters routinely lie. They lie about so called Israeli war crimes. They lied during the coalition invasion of Iraq several times, claiming the Allied forces were bogged down (they werent), claiming that the US was nowhere to be seen at the Baghdad airport when they had actually taken it, when another, non-BBC reporter could see them there, and where the BBC reporter making the claim could not see the airport in the first place, but hey, he could still accuse the US of lying in the past. The BBC was so focused on attacking the coalition it couldnt even be bothered getting basic facts right. Message to the BBC, its an ABRAMS tank, not an Abrahams tank. DUH.

    I recently saw BBC coverage of the Republican convention. The entire articel on BBC world consisted of pictures of Bush and some of the conventioin, but all with only the voice over of the BBC reporter. Not one thing that was said by anyone at the convention was mentioned. Not one poliocy proposal or claim or attack made by anyone at the convention was mentioned. In fact the convention wasnt the real news in this article at all, it was the BBC commentators OPINIONS that were, and they were utterly critical of Bush. “Where are the WMD’s? Where is Osama bin Laden?” the reporter said while we saw video of RNC delegates.

    This is not reporting. Its propaganda.

    “Or maybe you’re jumping to polarise the world into with/against, in order to make some cheap political point against ‘lefties’, ‘tranzis’ or whoever else you currently don’t like, out of a terrible human tragedy.”

    The world IS polarised. And there is nothing current or fashionable about disliking lefties and tranzis and their BBC apologists. Its a lifelong mission.

    And that “terrible human tragedy” is part of a wider conflict in which lefties, tranzis, and the BBC have taken sides.

    “How stupid do you take the public to be?”

    They voted for Labour didint they? Twice?

    “Have you actually watched any of the BBC coverage?”

    I for one have, on BBC World. And yes , it is biased and it does seek to minimise as much as it can the issue of pan-Islamic terror.

  • Shawn

    To turn J’s absurd and reductionist moral equivalency argument around:

    A criminal is someone who kills because he/she has a psychiatric/spritual illness and gets off on killing, or who kills only those he/she needs in order to attain a material goal like money.

    A soldier, in the modern Western tradition at least, is someone who kills in order to defend his country, or other people, or to defeat an enemy intent on harming one or both. In a war, this means civilians are caught in the crossfire, but the alternative of inaction, or exclusively non-military action, results in giving enemies free riegn to kill and/or enslave as they please, which in a world that produces Hitlers and bin Ladens is not realistic. And while the ideal is not always lived up to as best as it could be, the modern soldier seeks to limit civilian casualties AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

    A terrorist is someone who deliberately seeks to kill as many civilians as possible in order to terrorise a population or country into policy change or surrender. The terrorist may sometimes hit military targets, but the primary target is civilians and especially women and children, and AS MANY AS POSSIBLE.

    Any moral person should be able to understand these differences.

  • Jonathan L

    The coverage on BBC World was very interesting.

    The reporter on the ground was visibly shaken by events and was refering to the perpetrators as terrorists.

    The anchorman asking the questions from his safe studio was concentrating on the question of whether the Russian Forces screwed up. In less stressful conditions the news reporter may well have joined the fun. Instead he unequivically stated that the Russian forces moved in after there were explosions. He also called them calm and professional. With that line of inquiry halted the anchorman concentrated instead on Putin’s hardline policies.

    Beslan was used by the BBC and others as another chance to consider “the reasons behind terrorism”, whilst people who had blood in their veins just felt like crying.

    It is an inescapable conclusion that when a leftist sees someone commiting violence, he wonders about the cause. It has to be due to the violent creed of marxism and its belief in revolution, that provides the intellectual road map for most of these people.

    For those that refuse to accept that the BBC could never side with baby killers, ponder the impact of the other option. The terrorist outrages of recent years have neatly illustrated that our western culture is far superior to the alternatives. Before Osama, thousands of dead was unthinkable. Consider Madrid, no-one believed for a second that it was the Basques. Why? Because even though their type represent the worst side of humanity, they would never stood that low. The difference is not in the terrorists, but in who they are trying to impress. Only small targeted killings can be excused. Conversely, in the Middle East, massive killings of those different from you are to be celebrated. Coming down firmly on the side of innocent children would be the first step in the unravelling of the lie, that all cultures are equal.

  • Guy Herbert

    There was a live World Service interview with the BBC’s man on the spot this morning about 4:30. Interesting I thought, in that he was being interviewed among other things about local reactions to the Russian government handling and plainly on that topic was choosing his words ve-ry care-ful-ly. My impression was not of self-censorship–the Beeb’s prejudice is usually wholly unselfconscious–but awareness of an official censor nearby. The line was dropped the first time too, which added to the eerie feeling.

  • A_t

    Anyone who thinks there are strictly 2 sides in this, & that if you don’t agree with the methods of one side, you’re on the other, is whacked out. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Disagreeing with some of Bush’s policies means one supports Sharia law & whatever other atrocities a few backwards looking arabs like? Mmmm.. yeah, that makes sense. Good rational analysis there.

    If you really want to play this silly “you’re either on one side or the other” game, why not go around & ask people if they think the slaughter of children last week was justified. The vast majority (BBC reporters included) will reply ‘no’. By your stupid binary logic, this means they’re not on the terrorists’ side, and given that there are only two sides, they must then be on ours, yes?

    If no, please explain why.

    (you could try the same exercise with 9/11, the Kenyan embassy bombings… whichever other terrorist atrocities you fancy. The results will be very similar. You’ll find the good side’s forces swelled massively, & the terrorists left with a few idiots.)

  • Shawn

    A_t writes:

    “Anyone who thinks there are strictly 2 sides in this, & that if you don’t agree with the methods of one side, you’re on the other, is whacked out. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Disagreeing with some of Bush’s policies means one supports Sharia law & whatever other atrocities a few backwards looking arabs like? Mmmm.. yeah, that makes sense. Good rational analysis there.”

    I have never heard anyone at Samizdata make any such claim. So this is a classic straw man argument. Back to reality please.

    “If you really want to play this silly “you’re either on one side or the other” game,”

    ‘There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.’

    Ayn Rand.

    “why not go around & ask people if they think the slaughter of children last week was justified. The vast majority (BBC reporters included) will reply ‘no’. By your stupid binary logic, this means they’re not on the terrorists’ side, and given that there are only two sides, they must then be on ours, yes?”

    This argument (which is another straw man argument) makes two assumptions. The first is that people who say the attack on children was not justified are actually telling the truth about what they believe. Given that this example does have children invlolved, many people would say what they want people to think, not necessarily what they themselves think.

    But lets give them the benifit of the doubt. So what???

    Tut-tutting about the wrongness of targeting children, or of terrorist tactics generally, proves absolutely nothing about whether or not that person sympathises with the terrorists themselves, or their cause. They may think “wrong tactics right cause”, which is what many on the left, including the BBC, do in fact think.

  • A_t

    “They may think “wrong tactics right cause”, which is what many on the left, including the BBC, do in fact think.”

    & the cause you have in mind is?

    Global domination by islamists? I don’t think so (as i’ve said before, find me a single BBC reporter who wants to live under Sharia law)

    Or perhaps independence for Chechnya? Not a very evil goal that one… Contraversial, debatable, certainly… but doesn’t sound like the epitome of evil.

    I’ve said this before, just because people do something evil in the name of a cause, doesn’t make that cause & others who support it evil.

    In your eyes, did the King David Hotel explosion (a clear act of terrorism) make the Zionist cause evil from 1946 onwards?

    Or do you perhaps think “wrong tactics, right cause”?

    You have an exceedingly low opinion of the rest of humanity too, to believe that people will only condemn the massacre of children because they think they’ll look bad if they don’t. Do you actually know any folk like that? Perhaps you move in particularly ruthless circles. Everyone I know, everyone, be they ‘lefty’, ‘tranzi’ or conservative, felt pain & disgust at that massacre.

    As for the Rand quote, I’m sorry; I don’t see her as any kind of moral authority, so her absolutist statement impresses me not one jot.

  • Shawn

    “& the cause you have in mind is?

    Global domination by islamists? I don’t think so (as i’ve said before, find me a single BBC reporter who wants to live under Sharia law)”

    Leftists do not acknowledge Islamic goals of global domination so thats another straw man argument.

    They do however acknowledge what they think are legitimate causes, for example, Chechen freedom from Russia, Palestinian statehood, America’s policies in the ME.

    “I’ve said this before, just because people do something evil in the name of a cause, doesn’t make that cause & others who support it evil.”

    The problem with this is that those causes are pretexts only for the actual cause of Islamic global domination.

    In this sense they are not real causes at all, but faux causes good for feeding the minds of gullibal Western liberals. Standard useful idiot tactics.

    “You have an exceedingly low opinion of the rest of humanity too,”

    No, I have a low opinion of lefties, tranzis, liberals, and BBC reporters.

    “As for the Rand quote, I’m sorry; I don’t see her as any kind of moral authority, so her absolutist statement impresses me not one jot.”

    I could care less about what impresses you. But shes right, and your attempts at a “middle ground” third way approach to Islam are indeed evil.

  • Shawn

    Oh and the Zionist cause was a valid one. Islamic global domination, regardless of its various disguises (Chechen “freedom” “palestinian freedom”) is not.

  • A_t

    Wow Shawn, so terrorism’s ok provided it’s in a good cause? Sounds a tad like moral relativism there. Who gets to decide which cause is the good one? (well, in this case, clearly Shawn). Seems like you’re saying that killing innocents for a ‘good’ religion is fine, for a ‘bad’ religion not. For those who are all full of the holy spirit & certain of which religion’s ‘good’, that’s all very fine. For the rest of us, it’s rather puzzling.

    & No, the quest for Palestinian statehood or Chechen independence from Russia are not necessarily pretexts for global Islamic domination. Nutbags who want the latter have hijacked parts of the former causes, but I and I’m glad to say, millions of others, are not buying into your apocalyptic vision of cultural war. Sorry.

    On the Raynd front, anyone who organised a rigid cult of personality is hardly in a position to lecture on right or wrong in my view.

  • Shawn

    “Wow Shawn, so terrorism’s ok provided it’s in a good cause? Sounds a tad like moral relativism there.”

    Did you see me excuse or justify the the bombing of the King David Hotel? No. Does putting words in other peoples mouths and then attacking that count as an argument to you?

    The attack was wrong. Period. Utterly unjustifiable.

    But Zionism was a valid cause. And religion has nothing to do with it.

    “Nutbags who want the latter have hijacked parts of the former causes,”

    Rubbish. The causes themselves are a front. Your resorting to your usual “its just a few extremists” argument which several people here, like Verity, have already successfuly refuted.

    “but I and I’m glad to say, millions of others, are not buying into your apocalyptic vision of cultural war.”

    Millions buy into Islam or Socialism so I tend to assume most people are sheep or slaves or both.

    On the Ayn Rand front, attacking the person instead of the argument is classic ad hominem. You do understand what a logical fallacy is dont you?

  • A_t

    Shawn, in the context of Ayn Rand, if someone wishes to offer me moral guidance, but lives in a manner which I consider to be immoral, my conclusion is that either they have not assimilated their own ideas, suggesting that they are not well equipped to explain them to others, or that their ideas are well assimilated but ultimately immoral.

    Either way, I see no reason to pay particular attention to that person’s idea of what is or is not moral.

    Whether they are competent to do a particular job; run a company or a country, is another thing entirely; I believe that many morally deficient people make for excellent presidents or CEO’s, provided there are sufficient checks on their power, but when it comes to telling me what is right & wrong; how I should live my life, I expect the person lecturing me to be capable of puting their own ideas into practice in order to gain my respect. I wouldn’t go to a marriage counsellor who couldn’t hold his own marriage together, a psychiatrist who was deeply troubled by unresolved childhood conflicts, or a financial advisor who was bankrupt.

    Ayn Rand talking about freedom whilst organising a cult which subsumed other individuals’ personalities; just as stupid as Sudan being on the UN human rights commission. Their practices destroy any credibility their words might have for me.

    On the Chechen movement, most observers seem to agree that it started as a nationalistic movement, & only in recent years has it been hijacked by the islamists. You may disagree, but you’re contradicting most of the authorities I can find on the subject, & I doubt you’ve done much research on the ground, so you’ll have to forgive me if I value their opinion over yours.

    “Zionism was a valid cause. And religion has nothing to do with it.”

    hmmm… there was me thinking it had everything to do with religion. Silly me. On reflection though, establishing a Jewish state legitimised by religious texts thousands of years old sounds highly secular.

    I think the thing we have established here though, is that you view the “condemn the action, agree with the cause” approach to terrorism as perfectly acceptable under certain circumstances, & that your view of the world is hugely polarised. In my view it represents an unrealistic model of reality, so we’ll just have to disagree.

  • A_t

    ps. the reason why I criticised Rand rather than the argument was that the quote was not an argument; it was a soundbite for which you provided no supporting argument, only the author’s name. I presumed (perhaps wrongly) that you thought the author’s name alone sufficient grounds for giving the thought authority in my eyes. If you wish to expound, in your own words or someone else’s, upon the soundbite, I will happily listen & respond.

  • Jacob

    “Did you see me excuse or justify the the bombing of the King David Hotel?”

    Well, I’ll excuse it, and mention some facts you seem not to be aware of.

    The King David hotel, the wing blown up, housed the offices of the British administration in Palestine. Since the fight of the jewish underground was against the oppresive rule of Britain in Palestine, that was a legitimate target.
    Then – a warning was given, by telephone, to evacuate the building to avoid loss of life, but the warning was not heeded.

  • J

    Arg…

    I wondered how long it would be before Ayn Rand showed up. I’ve have never read Ayn Rand. She may be a genius. She may even have a good prose style, although those two things are almost always mutually exclusive. What I do know, is that many of the worst postings on mailing lists, forums, usenet and blogs since I started using the Internet, have been decorated with quotes from her. She should have a special variation of Godwin’s law just for her.

    Anyway….

    Shawn:

    “A criminal is someone who kills because he/she has a psychiatric/spritual illness and gets off on killing, or who kills only those he/she needs in order to attain a material goal like money.”

    That’s a bad definition of criminal. For a start the phrase “spiritual illness” is not in common usage, and therefore needs its own definition. Committing perjury to spare my brother is not an act of madness, nor do I materially gain, nor do I ‘get off’ on it. But it’s still criminal.

    “A soldier, in the modern Western tradition at least, is someone who kills in order to defend his country, or other people, or to defeat an enemy intent on harming one or both. ”

    That’s also not true. A soldier must be part of the armed forces of a recognised state. If I kill to defend my country, it doesn’t make me a soldier. Equally, our soldiers do more than defend our country. They defent the interests of our country. This concept can be and is very broad. It’s hard to see how our action in Seirra Leone was anything to do with defending Britain (although I wasn’t against that action).

    “And while the ideal is not always lived up to as best as it could be, the modern soldier seeks to limit civilian casualties AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.”

    That’s not true. limiting civ casualties is far from priority number one for any commander. The safety of his own forces take precedence. The US army in particular will happily kill a lot of civilians in order to preserve even one or two friendly lives. I don’t (necessarily) have a problem with this, but it’s no good pretending that soldiers really care about collateral damage. The soldiers don’t give a shit once the shooting starts, and the commanders do it cause the have to.

    It is US policy to lay down fire on all likely positions in response to an ambush. That means, if a IED goes off in the high street, they US forces simply pour fire into any nearby window that _might_ contain enemy forces. This is doctrine. It’s reasonably standard ambush response doctrine, but in a town, it means lots of civilians die.

    “The terrorist may sometimes hit military targets, but the primary target is civilians and especially women and children, and AS MANY AS POSSIBLE.”

    Also not true. The IRA, esp. towards the end of their campaign deliberately limited they attacks to either NOT kill people (merely demonstrate that they could) or to limit casualties. It is simply not the case that terrorists always plant bombs to effect maximum civilian death. ETA targets single politicians and judges – they do not go for large numbers of random targets.

    Out of interest, do you consider killing a politician better, worse, or equal to killing a carpenter? What about a policeman? What if the laws the policeman enforces are repressive? What if the laws the politician makes are repressive?

    J

  • Chris Goodman

    No need to look amongst Muslim clerics to find an apologist for terrorism. We have an apologist right here called “Jacob”.

  • Jacob

    An editorial in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram said: “The events in the city of Beslan are an ugly crime against humanity. It is impossible that those who carried out the operation had a [legitimate] problem or that they [acted out of] religious belief. This is a group of criminal murderers, and everyone responsible for this crime must be hunted down and brought to trial in an international court. The time has come for everyone to accept as a first principle the sanctity of life and [the obligation] to avoid harming civilians…”

    Surprise! Look where we find some straight talk! Let the BBC learn from it’s betters.
    (Link)

  • Jacob

    Chris Goodman:
    My name is Jacob, not “Jacob”.

  • Verity

    No need to look amongst Muslim clerics to find an apologist for terrorism.

    Chris Goodman, you are correct. We have the Archbishop of Canterbury, for one. Go to Melanie Phillips’s Diary to see his latest mad mutterings. And Max Hastings – not quite the same elevation, but neverless famous, with a voice in the press – for another.

    Jacob is more than capable of fighting his own corner.