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  • Terrorism - as a concept

    I had a 'fail' yesterday, starting to start a Trump thread, hoping it wouldn't get ugly, but . . . of course . . . it would have, so it got yanked. Mea culpa.

    Now, I've just had a very interesting discussion with my AP Psychology class - all very intelligent seniors (the reason I love teaching!).

    The subject was Terrorism. The specific question was, 'Was Hitler a terrorist?"

    Our (mostly their, but I was in the discussion as a peer) conclusion was that he was not. His intent was not to terrorize Jews; it was to eliminate them altogether.

    But then the obvious corollary was that the USA WAS a terrorist at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The primary goal was not to kill all those civilians, but to terrorize Japan into surrender. (and yes, there were military objectives too, but they were ancillary to the purpose of the bombings)

    The students concluded that the word 'terrorist' is grossly misused or misunderstood in the media, to which I agree.

    I suspect many people would disagree with our outcome, esp. labeling the USA as capable of terrorism.

  • #2
    Complicated/Simple, isn't it?
    People do terrible things for idealogical reasons or as reprisal for perceived injustices that "normal/sane" people rightly abhor/reject. Seems to me that sparring over the definition of a term or categorizing a horrendous incident by undefinable standards, while intellectually stimulating, is largely pointless.
    Like pornography, we all know it when we see it.

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    • #3
      Hitler was a politician. The Jews an easy target to turn popular opinion against. We see this today and have seen it in politics often - welfare queens an example from year's past.

      USA weren't terrorists as they were already at war. The primary goal was to win the war. The use of the bomb forced Japan's hands as they realized they could be obliterated in a few minutes. We weren't terrorists, we were barbarians. As were those we were fighting.

      Good luck keeping this thread open for more than five posts.

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      • #4
        Well said, booond.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by booond View Post
          We weren't terrorists, we were barbarians.
          I'd accept that as an alternate premise.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Atticus View Post
            But then the obvious corollary was that the USA WAS a terrorist at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The primary goal was not to kill all those civilians, but to terrorize Japan into surrender. (and yes, there were military objectives too, but they were ancillary to the purpose of the bombings)
            Given ordinary civilians in Japan had no influence on the decision making regarding the war, how did terrorizing them serve any objective? Or did you mean terrorizing the generals and admirals?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TN1965 View Post
              Given ordinary civilians in Japan had no influence on the decision making regarding the war, how did terrorizing them serve any objective? Or did you mean terrorizing the generals and admirals?
              From my reading of WW2 history, almost everone but the most hawkish military brass were terrorized by Hiroshima, and Nagasaki then 'demoralized' (a nicer word) even them. Hirohito (mostly a figure-head by that point?) was certainly ready to keep his subjects from genocide. His quote: "We Must Bow to the Inevitable."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Atticus View Post
                The students concluded that the word 'terrorist' is grossly misused or misunderstood in the media, to which I agree.

                I suspect many people would disagree with our outcome, esp. labeling the USA as capable of terrorism.
                I agree with your students, especially about the misuse or the word "terrorist' in the American lexicon. Too many people in the MSM define terrorism by who perpetrates the act, not by the nature of the act itself.


                Violence directed towards civilians in order to get a government or a sub-governmental political entity to cry uncle is terrorism, regardless who's doing it. Violence directed towards civilians in order to eliminate or displace a racial, ethnic or religious group is ethnic cleansing, and genocide is one form of ethnic cleansiing. Violence directed towards willing combatants, whether on the battlefield or a military installation, is war regardless who's doing it. What the Nazis did to the British during the Blitz was terrorism. What the Nazis did to the Jews was ethnic cleansing. What Nelson Mandela did in South Africa before he was captured was terrorism. What happened to American Marines in Beirut in 1983 was war.
                Last edited by jazzcyclist; 12-03-2015, 08:47 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Atticus View Post
                  From my reading of WW2 history, almost everone but the most hawkish military brass were terrorized by Hiroshima, and Nagasaki then 'demoralized' (a nicer word) even them. Hirohito (mostly a figure-head by that point?) was certainly ready to keep his subjects from genocide. His quote: "We Must Bow to the Inevitable."
                  Well, booond's explanation makes more sense. It was not the sense of fear that pushed the "fence sitters" over the edge. The A-bombs demonstrated that waiting longer was not a better option.

                  Hirohito was hardly a figurehead at this point. The top government leaders were still in a stalemate after the bomb in Nagasaki, and the prime minister asked the emperor to break the tie. He was more of a figurehead in 1941, when both the military and the civilian politicians were overwhelmingly in favor of war.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TN1965 View Post
                    Given ordinary civilians in Japan had no influence on the decision making regarding the war, how did terrorizing them serve any objective? Or did you mean terrorizing the generals and admirals?
                    The goal was to put pressure on the government (the emperor and the military), not the ordinary citizerns. Terrorists generaly have no beef with the folks they're slaughtering, they're just collateral damage. However, I do agree with your implication that folks in democratic societies are more culpable for the actions of their government than folks in undemocratic societies, such as dictatorships and monarchies.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TN1965 View Post
                      Well, booond's explanation makes more sense. It was not the sense of fear that pushed the "fence sitters" over the edge. The A-bombs demonstrated that waiting longer was not a better option.

                      Hirohito was hardly a figurehead at this point. The top government leaders were still in a stalemate after the bomb in Nagasaki, and the prime minister asked the emperor to break the tie. He was more of a figurehead in 1941, when both the military and the civilian politicians were overwhelmingly in favor of war.
                      You seem to be quibling over semantics. Regardless of whether Hirohito or the generals were calling the shots in August 1945, there's no doubt that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is what caused the Japanese to cry uncle on August 15, 1945 instead of hold out a little longer, and perhaps get better terms for their surrender rather than give into an unconditional surrender. The primary goal of all terrorists is to get the government they are targeting to cry uncle.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jazzcyclist View Post
                        The primary goal of all terrorists is to get the government they are targeting to cry uncle.
                        Most terrorists are delusional. And ISIS doesn't want us to back down, they want us to create more hatred. They want us to bomb more civillians.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by booond View Post
                          Most terrorists are delusional. And ISIS doesn't want us to back down, they want us to create more hatred. They want us to bomb more civillians.
                          And half of congress would happily, stupidly capitulate to those murderers...many consider Obama "weak and feckless" because he refuses to acquiesce by indiscriminately revenge killing innocent people.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by beebee View Post
                            And half of congress would happily, stupidly capitulate to those murderers...many consider Obama "weak and feckless" because he refuses to acquiesce by indiscriminately revenge killing innocent people.
                            I think the thread is starting to unravel. Refrain from politicizing it in current terms.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Atticus View Post
                              I think the thread is starting to unravel. Refrain from politicizing it in current terms.
                              Shocked it's gone this far but if we can all agree to keep this as a discussion more about terrorism and not current policy we might get further.

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