Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Antidote to terrorism: Cool defiance  and a nice cup of hot tea 

Jun 06. 2017
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Re: “‘Terror within’ makes fight against terrorism tricky”, Stoppage Time, last Wednesday.  

Tulsathit Taptim offers some thought-provoking analysis, and some telling points are made.

I wholeheartedly agree with the strap-line that terrorism can be “tricky”, and that the attacks against civilised society are  – seemingly – endless, despite historical trends showing that this type of activity usually occurs in peaks and troughs.

However, the debate bifurcates in some ways, for example in terms of what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil”. The perceived evil of terrorism is not about “normalising” the concept and practice, as Tulsathit advances. Terrorism will never be “normalised” while only an overwhelmingly minuscule minority practises it. It isn’t about how terrorists consider their own actions, but how we, the accepted moral majority, approach terrorism.

Mentioning the “definition” (singular) of terrorism evades the fact that there are at least 200 definitions currently in widespread vogue. Admittedly, these have some things in common, like “using overt political violence to further a cause, and to influence the behaviour of a target population”. This is why it is critically important for us to present an outward face of defiance.

Tulsathit’s claim that “They make us look everywhere but inside ourselves” is a throwaway line that has no bearing on the subject. When one is on the side of decency, introspection carries no weight and, if anything, obfuscates to the point of delusion. This also applies to the strange idea that we “quickly forget” as today’s outrage succeeds yesterday’s. We do nothing of the sort.

Tulsathit goes on to say that “whether they [the terrorists] are doing a good job or not, the ‘Stay Strong’ or ‘We Are With You’ taglines expressing solidarity with the latest city attacked are sounding less and less inspirational the more often they appear”. He adds that the “defiance has not only failed to stop the senseless killings, but also threatens to alter our views or attitudes toward violence”. I doubt both of these assertions. For example, had the UK taken a defeatist attitude on board in the 1940s, we Brits would all be speaking German now.

Dr Frank

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