Ideological Terrorist Fallacy

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The Ideological Terrorist Fallacy is when you call a person or act “terrorism” when terrorist acts are applied to an ideology you support as well. But fail to call it terrorism when the same acts are committed to an ideology which you do NOT support.

When John McCain and Sarah Palin were being interviewed by Brian Williams he brought up their new technique of linking the word “terrorist” to “Obama” by stressing Obama’s questionable political relationship with Bill Ayers.

Bill Ayers political involvement began during the Vietnam war era and he was one of the biggest protesters of the war. Many people protested what was called the Vietnam Conflict, and Ayer’s group decided to protest the war through non-peaceful means, which by definition put them into the “terrorist” category. But the general public never called Ayers a terrorist because their understanding of terrorist is usually a foreign person who wants to do harm to the United States. It is obvious that when people think of a terrorist they think of Muslim terrorist who attacks the United States. The terrorist word isn’t used with domestic attacks.

Now Sarah Palin and John McCain are strong supporters of the Pro-Life position. Sarah Palin is so strong of a supporter that she wants abortion completely banned with the exception of saving a woman’s life. But Palin doesn’t want to use the word terrorist in describing someone who commits terrorist acts against abortion clinics.

Brian Williams: Back to the notion of terrorists and terrorism, this word has come up in relation to Mr. Ayers — hanging out with terrorist – domestic terrorists. It is said that it gives it a vaguely post uh 9-11 hint, using that word, that we don’t normally associate with domestic crimes. Are we changing the definition? Are the people who set fire to American cities during the ‘60’s terrorists, under this definition? Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist under the definition?
Sarah Palin: There is no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was um one who sought to destroy our US Capitol and our Pentagon — that is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or um facilities, that uh, it would be unacceptable — I don’t know if you could use the word terrorist, but it’s unacceptable and it would not be condoned of course on our watch. I don’t know if what you are asking is if I regret referring to Bill Ayers as an unrepentant domestic terrorist. I don’t regret characterizing him as that.
Brian Williams: I’m just asking what other categories you would put in there. Abortion clinic bombers? Protesters in cities where fires were started, Molotov cocktails, were thrown? People died.
Sarah Palin: I would put in that category of Bill Ayers anyone else who would seek to destroy our United States Capitol and our Pentagon and would seek to destroy innocent Americans.

In this particular example of political rhetoric, notice how Plain makes it perfectly clear that Bill Ayers is a terrorist. The motive is either because he opposed the Vietnam war, which she may support, or because it conveniently adds fear to the idea of Barack Obama. Maybe it’s simply because Ayers is a terrorist by definition. But Anti Abortion is an ideology that she supports, so she doesn’t want to use the term terrorist to describe bombings which have injured and killed innocent people at abortion clinics. If you don’t think these acts aren’t terrorist acts by definition take a look at Eric Rudolph.

Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American radical described by the FBI as a terrorist who committed a series of bombings across the southern United States which killed two people and injured at least 150 others.

Rudolph declared that his bombings were part of a guerrilla campaign against abortion and what he describes as “the homosexual agenda.” He spent years as the FBI’s most wanted criminal fugitive, but was eventually caught. In 2005 Rudolph pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges and accepted five consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding a trial and the death penalty. Rudolph was connected with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. Although he has denied that his crimes were religiously or racially motivated, Rudolph has also called himself a Roman Catholic in “the war to end this holocaust” (of abortion).

Rudolph has also confessed to the bombings of an abortion clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs on January 16, 1997, a gay and lesbian nightclub, the Otherside Lounge, in Atlanta on February 21, 1997, injuring five, and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama on January 29, 1998, killing part-time security guard Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. Rudolph’s bombs were made of dynamite surrounded by nails which acted as shrapnel.

He is said to have targeted the health clinic and office building because abortions were performed there, and targeted the” Otherside” Lounge because it was a predominantly lesbian nightclub.

It is obvious that Eric Rudolph is a terrorist by definition and is far worse than Bill Ayers in comparison. But Sarah Palin’s comment is one example in which she separates these two people through ideological differences. Another example of this fallacy is the view of “state sponsored terrorism.”

The State Department of the U.S had Iran and Iraq on their list of state sponsored terrorism for their involvement in political killings inland and abroad. Iranian terrorist operations have aimed at members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI). Iran has also supported groups in Palestine who want to stop the Middle East peace process. Taha Kirmeneh, who was a member of the KDPI was killed by gunmen in Coru, Turkey. Another member of the KDPI was killed by a letter bomb in Stockholm, Sweden. Their goal is to suppress the actions of this Democratic party and kill their leaders.

Iraq has had it’s share of Political killings and terrorist actions directed against civilians, foreign relief workers, journalists, and opposition leaders. A prominent Iraqi expatriate oppositionist residing in Beirut, Lebanon, was assassinated. The Government of Lebanon stated that it had firm evidence linking the killing to the Government of Iraq and arrested two Iraqi diplomats in connection with the incident. Lebanon subsequently broke diplomatic relations with Iraq. Their Goal is also to suppress the efforts of actions of political opponents inside or outside their country.

These actions have qualified them on the list of State Sponsored Terrorism. Since we are going strictly by the definition, then the United States should also be on this list.

One of the United States terrorist operations was aimed at the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas is a left wing political party that was accused of being funded by the Soviet Union and Cuba and was thus in violation of U.S policies in accordance with the Reagan Doctrine. So the U.S.A. looked to unite the Guerrilla Terrorist opposition called the Anti Sandinistas which later was called the Contras. The CIA with Congress approved funds trained the Contras and provided them with equipment. Throughout the Contras efforts to overthrow the Sandinistas they engaged in

· targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination.
· kidnapping civilians.
· torturing civilians.
· executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat.
· raping women.
· indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian houses.
· seizing civilian property.
· burning civilian houses in captured towns

Despite these atrocities the United States continued to fund them over 100 million dollars until they killed an American Engineer, which wasn’t enough to stop Reagan from requesting another 30+ million dollars, but Congress rejected it.

Attacking innocent civilians for political purposes is terrorism by anyone’s definition. But you won’t get anyone from one of the two major political parties calling the United States a terrorist-sponsoring country. And anyone questioning this stance is often called Anti American. In 1994, Iran and Iraq both made the U.S.A.’s state departments list of State sponsored terrorism for doing the exact same thing that the U.S.A. had done. The difference between the United States and these Middle Eastern countries is whether or not their actions are supporting US backed ideologies or not. We find this same mentality when calling people domestic terrorists in the United States, when Palin discussing abortion-bombings and Bill Ayers. However, the use of ‘terrorist’ should not be a contextual or ideological qualifier. Either everyone who commits these atrocities are terrorists or nobody is. Selecting when you want to use the label terrorist solely on when it benefits your agenda is illogical and doing so commits yourself to the fallacy.


Dreadsen is a regular contributor for YouDecide2008.com

  • Michael

    Dreadsen, I would concur with your assessment that the term terrorist is a political tool used by governments. It has just become a recent phenomenon to call governmental bodies terrorist (Iranian Guard). This more gets into state sovereignty than anything else, as the School House Rocks clip shows.

  • Dan

    pretty much sums up America. When America invades for oil is democracy but when others invade there terrorists or allied to Russia (the rouge state?) Can i say that or will i have someone from the CIA checking me out? yeah democracy what a laugh!!!

  • Mike A

    Dreasden,

    thank you for composing this concise deconstruction. It has been a pleasure to read your posts, as you seem to be one of the most level-headed and informed contributors to the site. Cheers.

  • Dreadsen

    Michael Good point on the Iranian guard because this is what scared me when that vote passed.
    The “War On Terror” could have possibly been used to attack Iran because now their Iranian guard is viewed as a “terrorist group” by our government.
    After that I suspected that this was a method of bypassing many obstacles in waging war with a sovereign nation.

    Mike A

    Thank you so very much for your kind words. These are the types of discussions I would like to have because it is a problem with the government in general. But it seems people are really more interested in attacking one side or the other over urban legends or the cost of wardrobe. Now I see why those tabloids in the supermarket aisles sell so well. This year that mentality got a chance to play it’s part in politics. But when real political issues come up those people disappear.