One of my favorite pages in Time Magazine is the “Verbatim” page, where some of the week’s most outrageous quotes are featured. In the Jan. 18 issue, Ramy Zamzam is quoted as saying, “We are not terrorists. We are jihadists and jihad is not terrorism.”
Right, and I’m the Pope. C’mon, enough with the semantics. You try to kill people because you think the world is attacking Islam, because you want to spread Muslim territories (although not necessarily Islamic faith), because you’ve misunderstood (or, some argue, understood all too well and thus taken ancient texts too literally) the Qu’ran’s call for jihad. But that killing of folks for being different, that qualifies as terrorism, buddy, no matter what you want to call it.
While the French often make me crazy, the fact that they keep their language so tight, allowing few, if any, synonyms for words, assures that people are precise in their use of words. It’s hard to misunderstand them because when they say cup, they mean cup. With Zamzam and his allies, we’ve got a problem of definition. Afterall, there are definitions of jihad here, here and here, and not all of them agree as to how this “holy war” should be carried out, if at all. But the fact remains that when it is carried out, it is an offensive (as opposed to defensive) act and it shoots to kill anyone who disagrees with it.
Likewise the word “terrorism,” defined here, here and here. You’ll notice the commonality in the definitions is the “use of terror” (fear) to control large swaths of folks. With that definition, one could argue that the U.S. acts like a terrorist when it foments fear among the general public to get us to give up some of our liberties, but I think most would agree that that kind of fear-making is not on the same level as a bomb-strapped crazyman (or woman) walking into a cafe and pressing a switch to blow up everyone within 25 feet.
So, Mr. Zamzam, say what you will, but you are a terrorist. It may make you feel better calling yourself a jihadist, but the end result is the same: You are a cold-blooded (wannabe) murderer. You can coat it in semantics, fiddling with the definitions for your acts, justifying your murderous plans by saying Allah requires it of you (doubtful), that only your one type of Muslim is truly Muslim and thus protected from attack (ridiculous) and/or that jihad isn’t terror because you’re just trying to protect Islam from attack by McDonald’s and P. Diddy (nothing more threatening than a BigMac and a rapper with questionable grammar).
But, really, don’t you think you could sleep better at night if you’d at least get a grip and accept that your form of jihad is terrorism? Go for it; be a man. Oh, I forgot, you can’t be a man – you’re a jihadist.
**** And from the other side of the news magazine aisle, and courtesy of a Face Book post from a former Tucson Citizen employee, comes this Newsweek essay by lawyer Ted Olson (who defines himself as “a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations…”) in support of gay marriage. He has decided to help in the legal fight to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which overturned California’s constitutional right ot gay marriage. A snip from the essay:
Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society.
I’ve often argued that the reason we should accept gay marriage is because it would normalize what is already happening and encourage stability in gay relationships. I keep thinking of how I would feel if one of my children were gay. I would want him/her to settle down, just like I want my straight kids to. I want them to find that one person with whom to share life and get on with the lawn-mowing and taking out the trash and paying taxes and just, overall, move out of the college mind set of anyone, anytime, anywhere. So, congrats to a die hard conservative like Olson for sticking his neck out with this essay.