Define Terrorist

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Here’s a subversive proclamation for you, if your moral compass points to popular opinion:

For your sake above all else, the suspected terrorist deserves rights; all rights that an American citizen enjoys simply because “suspected terrorist” does not mean “convicted terrorist” yet both terms are now legally equated; in full mockery of justice and reason.

How we treat our “suspected terrorist” now is a grim reflection of how we are prepared to treat our “suspected terrorist” citizens. The term “suspected” will be equated with “convicted” in every legal and practical sense of the word.

Sadly, the word terrorist is subject to interpretation. This means anyone, including conservative Americans who presently support torture and faithfully watch FNC. The latter suffer the cruel delusion that they are immune to unjust laws that can be used against them by an opposition that can, potentially, be prepared to go to the same extremes the former leaders did. The conservative assumes the Orwellian Patriot Act only applies to brown people, to Muslims, to what Ann Coulter calls “camel jockeys”. It does not.

Because suspected terrorists can be arrested and detained secretly, there is no way to tell if white conservative “terrorists” have disappeared indefinitely this way. You don’t see any white faces at Gitmo, you say? well, surprise! There’s other prisons waiting just for them. White fanatical Muslims do exist, including alleged white fanatical Muslims. And as we know too well, a good portion of those in Gitmo now are there based on accusations later proved false. These were often accusations made simply to collect the army’s reward.

How we treat our “terrorist” prisoners now is a grim reflection of how we are prepared to treat our fellow citizens. Right now, such prisoners are held indefinitely without charge or a right to fair trial. We justify this crime with an echo of the slave-era Dred Scott decision which defined a class of humans as property; essentially ruling blacks are subhuman animals with no rights whites are bound to respect.

We now have a new class of subhumans we call “suspected terrorists” which no “patriot” is bound to respect. It’s 19th century logic in a 21st century world.

Thus it is in defining the terrorist where we fail. The suspected, let alone convicted terrorist is now legally subhuman.

But who defines what a terrorist is? Is it just a Muslim captured abroad, or alien? Not anymore. Even citizen policy dissidents, like war protesters, can be targets and have been.

Those who support Bush’s “war on terror” support a war that is not supposed to be won. Terror is a war tactic. It is like declaring a war on night attacks, or sneak attacks and ambushes. If anything, its a war on logic and human decency.

Defining Cowardice

In this debate, one side consists of cowards, true cowards and it is not defined by party. These are people who live in fear, and for the sake of fear act against their interest, and the nation’s as well. One cannot be manipulated to this extent without a vast reserve of hate and cowardice for propagandists to feed upon.

At bottom, it is a question as to whether or not those ruled by fear will decide the future of those ruled by reason. History’s lesson is consistent: for fear to prevail the good need only be complacent.

If you want to know which side has the biggest streak of yellow on their collective backs, look for the side whose leaders and media pundits desperately want you to panic, because they don’t want you to reason. Look for the side that wants you to hate, because they don’t want you to remember that yesterday, this person you hate and call a terrorist was still human.

Worse still, the actions of both the Democrats and Republicans suggest that they don’t want you to realize that it may soon be your face on the suspected terrorist; because together they made it possible. Again, this is not a partisan issue. At bottom, it is a question as to whether or not those ruled by fear will decide the future of those whose rule appeals to reason. History’s lesson is consistent: for the irrational fearful to prevail and rule completely the rational need only be complacent.