Handle with Care: Words Like "Conflict," "Terrorist"

Tom Fiedler (Miami Herald) - * When a Palestinian woman walked into a crowded restaurant in Haifa a few weeks ago and detonated a bomb, she killed 19 people, including three children. According to Reuters, she had waged an ''attack'' - the verbiage of war. The account also said the bombing showed that Palestinian leaders had failed to ''rein in militants,'' an apparent reference to the bomber. * Webster's definition of terrorism is, ''The systematic use of terror as a means of coercion.'' Had someone had the chance to interview the bomber prior to her entering the restaurant, I doubt she'd disagree with that definition as a description of her motive. * On the other hand, Webster defines militant as someone who is ''engaged in warfare or conflict.'' That definition can be deemed as accurate only from the extremist Palestinian point of view where attacks against Israeli civilians are justified as a fight for freedom. By any logic, militants engaged in warfare don't blow up little babies. * Unlike some of our colleagues, we see a line where a militant becomes a terrorist. When a suicide bomber blows up a bus carrying innocent civilians, it's an act of terrorism, not militancy. The writer is executive editor of the Miami Herald.

2004-01-06 00:00:00

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