The t word


When is a terrorist not a terrorist? 

A] when (s)he is considered to be a "freedom fighter.

B]  when an editor says so.
C]  all of the above.
The exquisite delicacy in the name of objective fairness employed by editors to avoid calling those who deliberately  kill and maim as many civilians as possible by exploding nail—filled bombs in buses, restaurants and other areas of everyday life terrorists is finally explained by the New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent.
Using nuance, subtlety and some twisted reasoning while throwing in gratuitous swipes at pressure groups——especially pro Israeli ones——as he gazes intently at his navel, Okrent finally concedes the Times's earnest effort to avoid bias can desiccate language and dilute meaning.
Quoting from a memo of their former Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet he further realizes:

"The calculated bombing of students in a university cafeteria, or of families gathered in an ice cream parlor, cries out to be called what it is," he wrote. "I wanted to avoid the political meaning that comes with 'terrorism,' but I couldn't pretend that the word had no usage at all in plain English." Bennet came to believe that "not to use the term began to seem like a political act in itself."

Most people realized that long ago. (Gertrude Stein:  "A rose by any other name is still a rose."  Beheading a British—born social worker living in Iraq  is still an act of terrorism——not insurgency, not freedom fighting, not glorious martyrdom, not a sign of an oppressed individual with no hope but terrorism.)  It is about time that the anguished souls over at the New York Times did also.

Ethel C. Fenig  3 7 05