News Release

Use of “Terrorism”

BEAU GROSSCUP, bgrosscup at csuchico.edu
Grosscup is author of several books on terrorism including Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He said today: “Initially, President Obama called the Boston bombing a ‘tragedy,’ a label for which he was roundly criticized by the political right. A day later he declared it ‘an act of terrorism.’ This may seem a matter of semantics, but there are real power politics at work. Consider the following facts in the Boston bombing. (1.) The FBI says it doesn’t know who was responsible or how many were involved. (2.) The FBI defines ‘terrorism’ as ‘the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives,’ but then adds the operational criteria that for an act to be called terrorism a conspiracy of two or more must be established.

“In the past, this definitional requirement has allowed the FBI to say that domestic violence directed at the family planning community, black churches, LGBT community, environmentalists is not terrorism because they cannot find a conspiracy of two or more people. Yet, to the FBI, the Unabomber, a lone individual, was a terrorist. In short, the Boston bombing is only the latest example of the consistent inconsistent application of the terrorism label for political purposes. Terrorism is such a politically emotive concept that politicians around the world use it or not when they consider it politically convenient to do so. In the current contrived ideological context in which ‘we don’t do terrorism, others (they) do,’ President Obama is among them.”