Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bill O'Reilly's Elastic Definition of Terrorism

Tonight on "The O'Reilly Factor" Bill O'Reilly went pretty far overboard in his definition of "terrorism". Most of the time, I don't bother with this stuff too much because a) O'Reilly often says things simply to irritate the "right" in order to back up his claim of being "independent" and b) the pro-America hurrah! hurrah! attitude much of this stems from doesn't bother me that much. What happened cannot be changed and every country needs some kind of founding myth to rally around when the population has virtually nothing in common. However, sometimes things can be taken too far. Case in point, O'Reilly comparing the controversy over lawyers who defend Muslim terrorists to John Adams defending some of the British soldiers who participated in the so-called "Boston Massacre" which, O'Reilly said was 'surely an act of terrorism'.

Hold the phone Bill! First of all, it was no "massacre". Only 11 people were shot, only 5 of whom died and the shooting came at the height of a very ugly confrontation between a mob of some 300 to 400 Bostonians and a mere 7 or 8 British soldiers who were being pelted with snowballs, rocks, sticks and insults as well as being dared to shoot by people in the mob. All of these were regular soldiers in the British army, in uniform, standing on guard duty as they had been for some time. By no stretch of the imagination could these men be called terrorists or the shooting an act of terrorism. In fact, the subsequent trial of several of those involved found mostly in favor of the British.

Lest the British feel too picked on here, O'Reilly, later in the same broadcast, also compared the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor to an act of terrorism. A much more horrible affair no doubt about it, but again, hardly an act of terrorism. The Japanese were regular military men, flying in marked planes and attacking military targets. In fact, when the flight commander returned to Japan, HIM Emperor Hirohito, who rarely spoke at such meetings, questioned him directly to ensure that no civilian areas had been hit in the attack. In the course of the war other very horrible things were done but in all the hyper-sensitivity of the "War on Terror" we do need to keep in mind that not every tragedy, not every surprise attack and not even every war crime is an act of "terrorism".


  1. "Terrorism" is a term that is very elastically applied these days, that's for sure.

    Although in a different context, it reminds me of the way the murder of the unpopular Tsarist governor of Finland, Bobrikov, in 1904, was branded as terrorism by the Finnish prime minister some years ago. I thought this was rather silly. Not that I'm advocating shooting governors, but still, targeting a single individual, perceived as a tyrant, is in a different category from randomly attacking innocents.

  2. It is. An assassination is an assassination and should be considered bad enough without having to call it 'terrorism'. It's as though that's the primary modern evil trend in the world so everything is measured by that standard. What used to be a crime is now an act of terrorism (though there certainly are real and legitimate acts of terrorism don't get me wrong).

  3. The real and legitimate acts of terrorism are overwhelmingly Muslim, I might point out. It is a point Mr O'Reilly will never make, however, because he does not view Western Civilisation as being worth anything (and that includes the various remnants of deposed monarchies and what they stood for). Thus, he accuses the West of terrorism, and lets the Muslims off scot free.

    It's simply a self-hate attitude that is unfortunately far too prevalent among the elite in our society. The West has much to be proud of, and its achievements should not be left to barbarian dogs (who wouldn't just burn books, I might add).

    It is also worth pointing out that the soldiers felt exceedingly threatened by the crowd, and arguably fired in self defence.

  4. They didn't just feel threatened, they were being threatened. They were being insulted, pelted with all sorts of projectiles, one was beaten to the ground with a club and all the while the crowd was taunting them, shouting for them to shoot! It also makes no sense to call it an act of terrorism when the case O'Reilly referred to, was won by John Adams defending the British soldiers who, because of the political climate could not get off as they deserved, were still judged to have been acting in simple self-defense.

  5. But Gentlem,en, you don't understand the American Mind. Its Wildly Biasedin Favour of the Revolution and agaisnt the Evil British Forces.

    People don't learn the Real History of the Boston Massacre, they learn the whitewashed Mythic Version.
    In the Versionmost kniow, some evil British Soldiers were clamping down on innocent, good natured Bostonians. When they had had enough, thmarche dup and asked them to leave. Then the evil BRitish opened fire mercilesly and wihtout provokation.

    Never midn the facts, this is the verison hat mkes the Revolutionaries look good!


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