The entire purpose of the language of terrorism is to cloak the sentiments of war in a victim rhetoric. You see, France isn’t “at war,” they’re merely responding to “terror” attacks. Those wretched, vile gunmen are not warriors or soldiers, they’re madmen, lone wolf terrorists.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s office on January 7 might otherwise be considered an invasion, an attack from outside forces France has declared war on. But war is far too brutish for the 21st century, where of course violence is on an inevitable downturn and world peace is just around the corner if not for a few meddling terror cells.
Calling such events “terrorism” is just a way of defamiliarizing people with the concept of war. No matter what, an attack on any western nation’s soil is terror, wholly undeserved, never the result of an ongoing worldwide conflict but merely the work of crazed individuals.
Delude yourself no longer with these politically correct terms. There’s a war, many western nations are involved in it, and attacks on your home turf are a result of it. Maybe the neocons would be a little less annoying if they stopped trying to dress this up as something else. Maybe people would be more hesitant to simply pick a side and declare the other side nothing more than barbarous lunatics if we actually talked honestly. It would at least do us all the service of clearing up people’s intentions and allow those around us to judge the situation more accurately.
All acts of war involve terror. The horror of war is not a byproduct, it is the intention. One cannot divorce terror from war anymore than one can divorce pleasure from sex. Treating an entire side of a conflict as the mere triggering of emotions among a geopolitical constituency reinforces that society’s self-righteousness and blinds them to the environment of terror present constantly throughout middle eastern nations that the west has established.
Perhaps this victim rhetoric has been generated by western militaries and media mouthpieces because they know the painful truth: Islamic terrorists are simply more efficient in provoking a feeling of helplessness. While the psychological effects of the west’s war of terror on the Arab world (and beyond) cannot be overstated, it is not difficult to notice just how much more reactive and frightened westerners get when these attacks occur, because they have been sheltered from the results of war for so long.
This is not to say their panic is not without justification. It is perfectly normal to become fearful and aggressive when you realize that no public space is safe, that a group of extremists could, at any moment, decide to make you a target of their violent political agenda. But since theirs is an act of terror and ours an act of defensive war, or more sickeningly twisted, a humanitarian intervention, we as a civilization do not have to come face to face in our discourse on this most horrifying of realities.
Ryan Calhoun, contributing author at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org), is a Philosophy student and activist at the University at Buffalo.