Hypatia's Library
Thursday, November 11, 2004
The passing of a terrorist, I mean, a leader
Yassar Arafat is dead. Finally.

I can't say that I have strong feelings about this event aside from the fact that it sounds like he was in a gradually deepening coma for a few days, which sounds much like the way my Granny died. In that sense I feel for his wife and family.

But I am struck by the way that the media keeps refering to him as "a terrorist that has died". They keep stating things like "aside from the Palestinians, few will mourn his passing." One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Calling Arafat a terrorist strikes me ass fundamentally different than calling the people who crashed into the trade centers terrorists or calling the gunmen in Beslan terrorists or the Oklahoma city bombers for that matter. The differences seem to me to be in:

1)the magnitude of the attacks (single and double digits, not hundreds and thousands)
2)the types of targets chosen (not a school; not thousands of civilians; limited and targeted)
3)the attempts to build a peace (real participation in negotiations, a clear declaration of desires)

Yes the attacks were unconventional and did not strictly target military targets. But when the little guy goes up against the big guy, it's hard to adhere to commonly accepted rules of war.

I wonder if King George thought of George Washington or Paul Revere as terrorists?
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