The dictionary defines terrorism as The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons. Is terrorism an effective political medium for the advancement of a political minority or rather an act of defiance rendering a society into a state of ephemeral hysteria? It remains to be seen how this latest act of terrorism will unfold and what political awareness it may generate. Unfortunately, historically acts of violence have often proven themselves effective tactics in promoting significant political attention. In the next few paragraphs I will examine some examples of terrorism and make note of their political impacts
One of the nations first and most iniquitous terrorist groups is the Ku Klux Klan. What significance has their use of terrorist tactics had on our culture overall? While some would argue that the Klans tactics have been proven ineffective in that our culture has for the most part implemented civil rights, its my contention that the Klan has and probably will continue to be too influential in promoting its agenda. Some fairly recent examples would range from the bombings of African American churches over the last decade to the presidential nominations of Pat Buchanan and David Duke. I for one would be scared off my ass to drive through the south to visit my sister who lives in Kentucky, just from the urban legends Ive heard about what those crazy white boys do to punks like me. Its pretty apparent that for the KKK the use of terrorism over the last 130 years has been a very effective political means.
Other (supposed) sole terrorist who come to mind are Theodore Kaczynski and good old Timothy McVeigh, our two most recent and most notorious conspirators. While the Unabomber seems almost benign given recent events, at a time he was the most wanted man in America. During the sensationalism of his publishing his threats prior to his arrest I remember many being inspired by his anti-progress, anti-technology rantings. McVeigh with his anti-government beliefs probably did have an affect in heightening the pressure on the FBI and Janet Reno (as more and more information was released about the governments mishandlings at Waco for example) One could surmise that each of these men in their own right as individuals did promote their interests effectively.
During a recent class meeting, a woman in our class very passionately affirmed her contention that passive-non-violent resistance was the way to go. She specifically sited Dr. Martin Luther Kings effectiveness winning civil rights for African Americans. I adamantly disagree with her. Its my belief (and Im sure many others) that it was the militant extremism of leaders such as Malcolm X who moved the civil rights movement forward in the 1960s. I believe that the powers that be at the time viewed Dr. King as the lesser of two evils and for this reason he was embraced by white America.
As Thomas Hobbes described man in a state of nature it is in our nature as humans that violence always be closely intertwined with our governing of ourselves. To quote Jefferson in his letter to William Smith, What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon ; pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots ; tyrants.