Why politicians like to keep “terrorism” vaguely defined

March 14, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More

Why don’t politicians clearly define the word “terrorism,” the alleged principle on which they allegedly based so much national policy? As he does so often on so many topics, Glenn Greenwald hits the mark:

[T]he word that is used most frequently to justify everything from invasions and bombings to torture, indefinite detention, and the sprawling Surveillance State — Terrorism — is also the most ill-defined and manipulated word. It has no fixed meaning, and thus applies to virtually anything the user wishes to demonize, while excluding the user’s own behavior and other acts one seeks to justify . . .

The reason no clear definition of Terrorism is ever settled upon is because it’s virtually impossible to embrace a definition without either (a) excluding behavior one wishes to demonize and thus include and/or (b) including behavior (including one’s own and those of one’s friends) which one desperately wants to exclude.


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Category: Politics, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, the UN has tried to define terrorism for decades. The definition I found most accurate was "the taking of innocents for political purposes."

    I have written about this before and the use of the reprehensible practice of Republicans using the "soft on terror" boogeyman for electoral and poltical gain since the "Red Scare" has faded.


  2. It used to be "creeping communism", now it's becoming "creeping terrorism".

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