Did you Know~ Of Terrorism And Labels

I can call a tail a leg, but that doesn’t make the name fit. – Abraham Lincoln

In the modern world, one word that universally draws looks of scorn and derision is “terrorist.” Terrorism is agreed by the vast majority of people to be disgusting, shameful, and a revolting means to allegedly lofty ends. However, like any label, this particular word can be woefully misapplied, with devastating consequences.

In 1985, high-ranking officials within the Reagan administration launched clandestine negotiations with Iran to supply weapons to Lebanese supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s leader, in exchange for American hostages being held in Iran in direct contravention of standing US policy concerning negotiation with terror regimes. These sales generated millions of dollars, which were then routed, along with guns, to Nicaraguan guerilla fighters.

Although the Contras, as they were called, were universally decried as terrorists, the fact is that the Contrarrevolucionarios were a grass-roots Nicaraguan patriotic movement working to destabilize and overthrow the oppressive Sandinista regime, which had recently risen to power on the ashes of the forty-year Somoza dictatorship. Their bloody struggle was widely documented, and the Contras were labeled guerillas (an accurate term which has acquired unfortunate connotations of late, as guerilla means a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment[1]) and terrorists (a label far better suited to the Iranian regime et al). It would be five years before the Sandinistas were ousted from power in open elections in 1990.

Today, groups and cultures worldwide who are fighting for their lives against oppression are called “terrorists,” whether justly or not. Even America would not be what it is today without “guerilla” and “terrorist” acts against the ruling British.

Before you assign labels, ponder that for a moment.


[1] Definition from wordnetweb.princeton.edu

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7 thoughts on “Did you Know~ Of Terrorism And Labels

  1. An interesting account of the unfortunate uses some regimes put labels to, lili…I believe the terrorist term has been exchanged for ‘rebel’ of late. Propanda is the name of their game imho. But some of us do see through the mist! smiling at you, Tai x

  2. @ Roberta: Thank you! I’m terribly sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday. My computer got fatally sick, and so I had to reset the whole thing. Hopefully things are back on track now.
    I’ve always been fascinated by labels and how people use them to create context. This can be a good thing…or a very dangerous one. If I can make only person consider the ramifications of labels, maybe it’ll help change things for the better. 🙂

    @ Lawrence: Thank you for stopping in! I wish people would stop and think about what they are doing when they try to pigeonhole others. This can be devastating to a person, never mind a group. But we do it every day, without even thinking. Sad, really.

  3. A fantastic write, J.S! I think all we have to do is have a read of River’s piece this week to learn more of our own terrorist past! It certainly has become a popular term, one that just about every movement or protest fits neatly into, depending upon what side of the fence your standing on. Wonderfully presented, and proud to have you on the team!

  4. Thank you, Tasha!
    Labels frighten me, because the moment we apply them, we dehumanize the target of the label. It’s easy to say “terrorist,” “gay,” “lesbian,” or anything “different” and use that as an excuse to ignore a human being’s rights or beliefs. It’s much harder to dig deeper and look into the whys and wherefores. What did Group X do to Group Y to cause them to behave this way? Why does Group X think they’re right? Are they really?
    A person is smart; people are mindless, panicky animals who immediately go into a mob mentality at the first hint of any threat. I wish we had more “persons” and fewer “people.” 🙂
    Thanks so much for the warm welcome! 😀

  5. Oh the fears people have to the different. They go around grouping and labeling, naming and accusing, and sometimes justifying their own cruelness. Why? So they can guarantee they are on the inside. I’m curious now how long people have pointed fingers and what characteristics are found in the people.

    I total agree about the people. 🙂

  6. Sadly, people have probably feared anything “other” since the first people with slightly different hair, eye, or skin color met. Part of it’s the implication that “different” might mean better. “I have to convert you to what I am so you’ll be right and no one will be around to imply I might be wrong.” *
    And the trend continues to this day.
    But at night, ALL cats are gray. 🙂
    The more I learn about people as a species, the more I appreciate my puppy. 🙂

    *Quote from Donald Michael Kraig, author of Modern Magick: 11 Lessons in the High Magickal Arts

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