Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Justifiable Terrorism?

A friend shared this Washington Post article on Congressman Peter King and his apparent hypocrisy regarding the use of terrorism for obtaining political goals.  I found the article to be quite thought-provoking.  It definitely makes one think about how best to compare and contrast the IRA with Fundamentalist Muslim extremists.

An early point in the article reminds me of why I love the story of V for Vendetta so much, since that story also makes one think about terrorism and potential double standard one faces when condemning terrorism for an "objectionable cause" while elsewhere, if it's for a cause that's near-and-dear, celebrating it as a potentially valid (and effective) strategy.

I can kind of see King's point on the difference being the ultimate goal (that being the achievement of peace).  On the surface, that would seem to be a difference between the two terrorist organizations.  That being said, it's only a valid point if two things are true:  (1) it really was the goal of the IRA's violence, and (2) it's not the ultimate goal of the Muslim extremists.  Regarding (1), it's not clear that it was.  King's statements could just be revisionist history from a "political power chaser," attempting to paint past deeds in a positive light.  Regarding (2), I don't think we can say it's a definite difference with Muslim extremists, since it just might be the goal of at least some of them, if you define "achieving peace" as "finally convincing non-Muslim (Western) governments to stop interfering in their soverign affairs."  That would be a peaceful outcome, and it might undermine such extremism (just as the Irish peace undermined the existence of the IRA, making it obsolete).  Of course, if there are more sinister goals beyond "peace" for the Muslim extremists, then maybe there really is a difference and King is not just rationalizing.

All of this, though, is really beside the point when the man is going to hold a hearing that is, on its face, at least somewhat reminiscent of ugly stains on American history like McCarthyism and the process that led to Japanese internment camps.  Whether or not his motivation is duplicitous and hypocritical with past beliefs doesn't change the inappropriateness of such hearings.