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May 19, 2010

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Its OK If You're Not A Muslim!

Which is closely related to IOKIYDITAM (It's OK If You Do It To A Muslim).

Note: last link is broken

Needless pedantry: you're missing an apostrophe in explaining your acronym.

Um, I'm pretty sure that Matt was being sarcastic. Unless you're being sarcastic too, in which case, there's a lot of fail on my part.

Jbouie: it's sarcasm all the way down.

Ugh gets three gold stars!!! Fixed all around, and yes, sarcasm around the horn.

Gold Stars for needless pedantry, sweet.

Given the lack of a full time editor, we pay in Gold Stars™ because with this cratering economy, and likely societal collapse, you should be heavily invest in Gold Stars™ for the low price of...

Of course it's terrorism--domestic terrorism--but it's not the same specie or thrust as Jihadism, which is a world wide phenomena and has a significant body count and has been going on now for nearly 20 years.

You will likely find some on the far right who would not give the perp any rights, just as you find some on the far left who would accord full constitutional rights to people captured during a battle overseas.

Others would afford full constitutional rights to any US citizen regardless of the crime, full constitutional rights to all non-citizens, even those in the country illegally, with the sole exception of terror related crimes.

Of course it's terrorism--domestic terrorism--but it's not the same specie or thrust as Jihadism, which is a world wide phenomena and has a significant body count and has been going on now for nearly 20 years.

"Jihadism"? Care to elaborate on what you mean that term to encapsulate?

And for the record, domestic terrorism based on religious/ethnic bigotry has been going on a lot longer than 20 years, and has a much, much, much higher body count.

Not the same thrust, as it were, but a far more lethal and pernicious breed of terrorism.

Actually I think it might just be that people don't think of pipe bombs as terrorism. They think of it as more like a high school prank. Which is wrong very various sizes of pipe bomb, but there we are.

You will likely find some on the far right who would not give the perp any rights

If you look hard enough, maybe. But given how vociferous the Right is when "the perp" is Muslim, or Arab, or just plain Other, you'd think it would not be necessary to look very hard. That is, you'd think at least one prominent wingnut would be clamoring for this "perp" to be disappeared, waterboarded, and tried by a military commission.

--TP

Jihadism--it's a catch all phrase that's been around awhile. The leading exponent is Al Qaeda. It is a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades. What do you call the brand of terrorism practiced by Muslims against the West? And what does the phrase "domestic terrorism" encapsulate?

You will likely find some on the far right who would not give the perp any rights, just as you find some on the far left who would accord full constitutional rights to people captured during a battle overseas.

There seem to be a large number of elected GOP officials who believe that US citizens shouldn't have rights if the commit terrorist acts (eg Faisal Shahzad)- and are associated with Muslims.
I agree, you'll find precious few members of the GOP establishment willing to deny this particular terrorist his rights though.

One doesn't have to endorse the stripping of rights by accusation to find this sort of religious- or politically-based discrimination in its application disturbing.

Not to mention the role of the media in front-paging Muslims who commit terrorist acts while back-paging non-Muslims who do so.

I'll bet all takers that you can search the United States Code for months and never find the word "Jihadism."

What do you call the brand of terrorism practiced by Muslims against the West?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I call it "terrorism." Do we really need to brand it?

Sebastian is sadly probably right about how people think about pipe bombs. People seem to forget that, for example, the Columbine killers had a whole bunch of pipe bombs in their possession, and did a lot of damage tossing them around the hallways in between shooting at people.

What do you call the brand of terrorism practiced by Muslims against the West?

Terrorism. In Britain, we didn't have a special word for the brand of terrorism practiced by the IRA against the English. As I recall, you don't have a special word for the brand of terrorism practiced by pro-lifers against doctors and women's health clinics. Terrorism is terrorism...

And what does the phrase "domestic terrorism" encapsulate?

Mostly, violence fueled by religiosity.

I hate and despise all "jihadists" -- Christianist ones just as much as Islamist ones. I consider it a pity that there's no Hell for the lot of them to spend eternity in together.

Bad as Islamist jihadists are, however, there's one respect in which I consider the Christianist ones to be worse. The Christianists seem to imagine that they can persuade a godless librul humanist like me to make common cause with them against the Islamist variety of holy rollers. At least the Islamists jihadists are not THAT stupid.

--TP

The leading exponent is Al Qaeda. It is a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades.

This isn't actually a very accurate statement. AQ has existed for only a dozen or so years, it doesn't go back "decades". The acts of large-scale terrorism before then were not generally committed by "a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular" but by, for example, the PFLP (tightly organised secular Palestinian nationalists), the Tamil Tigers (Hindus), Hizbollah (well-organised Lebanese Shia nationalists) etc. I don't think believing in a long-standing and invariant Jihadist movement is very helpful.

I find it somewhat amazing that rights are allocated based upon whichever side of an invisible line you manage to emerge from your mother's uterus.

And what does the phrase "domestic terrorism" encapsulate?

acts which endanger human lives, which are in violation of US laws, and which are intended to influence or coerce the government or civilian population. aka USA PATRIOT 802(c).

Do people really think that pipe bombs are pranks? Seriously? If I found out there was a pipe bomb in my home or office, I would not respond by saying "Ha ha! What a funny little prank!"

Others would afford full constitutional rights to any US citizen regardless of the crime

It's amazing how that works! It's almost as if they think constitutional rights aren't something the government grants you, but rather something you already have that the government must constitutionally respect.

I don't think believing in a long-standing and invariant Jihadist movement is very helpful.

It is if you're invested in a political ideology that insists there is something uniquely awful about terrorism when it's practiced by Muslims--as opposed to, you know, anti-abortion assassinations, IRA car bombs, and people who flip out and shoot up army bases.

Whoops! Sorry, that last one was a Muslim, so it's terrorism too.

Take a hint, McK: your bigotry is showing. The more excuses you try to make for why Islamist terrorism is somehow different in its awfulness in a way that requires us to prosecute it differently, the more you become Exhibit A in exactly the kind of mentality Eric is calling out.

I'd echo what most commenters have said.

AQ has only been in existence for about 15 years.

As for terrorism, it obviously predated AQ, even terrorism committed by Muslims. There has been terrorism used in indigenous struggles such as in Sri Lanka, Ireland, Israel and the like, as well as anarchist attacks in the US around the turn of the century, communist groups in Italy and Germany, shadowy groups in Greece, etc.

But transnational terrorist groups like Al Qaeda are a relatively new phenomenon.

I think "terrorist" is decent enough word. The terms "domestic" refers to terrorism committed by US citizens in the US. "Transnational" would encompass crossing national borders to commit such acts.

(For the record, I didn't say "domestic terrorism" alone, I actually said "domestic terrorism based on religious/ethnic bigotry" in order to differentiate)

If you want to describe Al Qaeda, it would probably be better to just say Al Qaeda - and if a wider net is needed, then Al Qaeda and its like-minded groups or copycats.

As for the Times Square bomber, I don't think al-Qaeda would apply, as he doesn't seem interested in overthrowing apostate regimes in the Middle East as much as making America pay a price for killing hundreds/thousands of Pakistani civilians.

But "Jihadism" has the potential to be more misleading and counterproductive than informative if used to encompass all terrorist acts committed by Muslims, or even all terrorism committed by Muslims against Western targets.

Most groups/individuals that include Muslims that use/have used terrorism as a tool are fundamentally, philosophically and even religiously variant.

For example, Hamas (Sunni, Palestinian nationalist) is not like Al Qaeda (Sunni, Takfiri, transnational). The PLO, not like either of those. Hezbollah, different still (Shiite, secular, Palestinian nationalist). Chechnyans differ still (nationalist), etc.

I think when you start looking at individual actors, it gets even farther differentiated. For example, was Major Nidal Hasan a Jihadist? Under what criteria?

It's amazing how that works! It's almost as if they think constitutional rights aren't something the government grants you, but rather something you already have that the government must constitutionally respect.
I forget who said it first, whether it was here or on another blog, but "If your rights can be revoked, they aren't right, but privileges." I feel like I'm back in my introductions to political theory where we start in on the discussion of Hobbes, Locke, and Natural Rights.

From Wikipedia:

Jihad (pronounced /dʒɪˈhɑːd/; Arabic: جهاد‎ [dʒiˈhæːd]), an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād is a noun meaning "struggle." Jihad appears frequently in the Qur'an and common usage as the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)".[1][2] A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid, the plural is mujahideen.

A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status.[3] In Twelver Shi'a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the 10 Practices of the Religion.

In the Qur'an, the Holy Book of Islam, and the prophetic example (Sunna) the word jihad implies warfare in the large majority of cases.[4] Whether the Qur'an sanctions defensive warfare only or commands an all out war against non-muslims is not clear and depends on the interpretation of the proper passages,[5] since it does not explicitly state the aims of the war Muslims are obliged to wage: the passages concerning jihad rather aim at promoting fighters for the Islamic cause and do not deal with military ethics.[6]

In classical Islamic jurisprudence jihad consists of warfare with the aim of expansion and defence of Islamic territory.[7] In later centuries, especially in the course of the colonization of large parts of the Muslim world, emphasis has been put on non-militant aspects of the jihad-concept. Today, Muslim authors only recognize wars with the aim of territorial defence as well as the defence of religious freedom as legitimate.[8]

In western societies the term jihad is often translated as "holy war".[9] Muslim authors tend to reject such an approach stressing non-militant connotations of the word.[10] In technical literature regarding the concept of jihad the term "holy war" is often used to describe it.[11] However, scholars of islamic studies often stress that both words are not synonymous.[12]

I'd say this makes the use of the word Jihadism not very helpful in describing some supposed, specific brand of terrorism. It would probably better, if imperfectly, apply to the fighting off of Crusaders in Muslim lands centuries ago, or lots of other things for that matter, than to modern terrorism.

I think I'm going to start using the word lake to describe car washes, since, well, there's water involved. Then I'll start a chain called The Great Lakes. Everyone will immediately understand our business model after seeing our name. (I didn't take any marketing courses while studying giraffe physics or floating-mother physics, but I won't let that stand in my way.)

"Do people really think that pipe bombs are pranks? Seriously? If I found out there was a pipe bomb in my home or office, I would not respond by saying 'Ha ha! What a funny little prank!'"

I think so, but not from the side you're talking about. The problem with pipe bombs (as a descriptive term) is that they are a really broad category. They include everything from stuffing a firecracker or two in a pipe and exploding it in a dirt lot (more in the juvenile silliness department) to filling a pipe with nails and explosives to form a shrapnel bomb (terrorist application). They also seem to have a very high chance of failure, although that impression may just be an incorrect one that I picked up somewhere.

Anyway, so whenever I read about a pipe bomb, my first reaction is to about the stupid idiots I knew who made them out of firecrackers just to see things blow up in remote locations. And I vaguely remember some super popular 80s teen movie which featured a pipe bomb as kind of a prank (does anyone else know what movie that could be? and no it wasn't 'Heathers'). Which is to say that the first reaction has nothing to do with terrorism. Now my SECOND reaction when reading about something like this is: WTF, he was trying to kill someone.

Anecdote doesn't equal data, but I think my first reaction to the term isn't atypical. It was even my initial reaction to the term "pipe bomb" used to describe the device placed in an Israeli bus a decade or so ago that killed a bunch of people. For me, the way I react to the term, I always wish that people wouldn't it use it to describe a 'serious' bomb. But I of course realize that 'pipe bomb' can include all sorts of very serious bombs. It is just that the term somehow got stuck in an 'unserious' category in my head a long time ago and it unfortunately colors my initial reactions to the term.

Thanks for explaining Seb. Where I grew up, kids screwing around with firecrackers didn't use pipes so I had no idea there was a non-terrorist application; my friends and I assumed that pipe-bomb = crazy person trying to kill people.

I think a lot of what goes under the title of "jihadism" are political movements that, in other contexts, we might call "freedom fighters".

Factoid from a piece in this week's New Yorker: about 75% of Taliban fighters fight within five miles of their homes.

There was a flurry of plane hijackings by Palestinians in the 70's, there have been a handful of more recent attacks in Western countries by AQ or AQ-inspired groups.

But I think most armed militant Islamic actions are pretty local, and focused on local political goals.

Not dismissing any of it, just saying that IMO most of what you're calling "jihadism" is not really that international in character, and mostly does not specifically target the West.

Yes, there are obvious differences between AQ sending people here to fly planes into buildings, and (presumably) American citizens setting off bombs at mosques.

I'm not sure those differences make one of those actions terrorism, and one not.

I'm not sure what your point is about "specie" and "thrust". The scope and means in the two actions were quite different. But the intent in both cases was to kill, harm, and/or intimidate innocent people.

I was unaware of anything other than the serious explosives-and-nails type of pipe bomb. And I was somewhat delinquent as a juvenile. Chalk it up to anecdota.

I always tought of them as a joke: my uncle taught me how to make them when I was about 12. Never did, but enjoyed the knowledge.

Sarcasm all the way down, maybe, but you should extend the same charity of interpretation to the Newsweek comment - it's pretty clearly intended as a sarcastic commentary on the way the media has chosen to report terrorist incidents.

No, Newsweek's commentary was clearly not sarcasm. At times, it was more descriptive than normative, but rarely sarcastic.

The notion seems to be that the kind or class of terrorist acts carried out by Muslim extremist can't be categorized as anything other than generic terrorism. Otherwise, it's racist, or, as Eric explains, really it's all so diffuse and differently motivated that you really can't give it a single name. In fact, you cannot even, as I did, call it a "a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades". This is just too narrow, too specific, doesn't allow for the subtle and not so subtle differences in sect, theme, etc.

Maybe people at this site should quit using the word "conservative" to describe people to the right because, you know, it fails to take into consideration economic vs. social vs. foreign policy vs. libertarian vs. Catholic vs. mainstream protestant vs. evangelical vs. fundamentalist vs. who-knows-what subset of conservatism.

McKinney, what you said:

"Jihadism--it's a catch all phrase that's been around awhile. The leading exponent is Al Qaeda. It is a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades."

I think there's some confusion about your third sentence. Some have interpreted the "It" to mean Al Qaeda, because Al Qaeda immediately precedes the third sentence. I suspect you meant the "It" to refer to "Jihadism." Is that right?

The notion seems to be that the kind or class of terrorist acts carried out by Muslim extremist can't be categorized as anything other than generic terrorism.

Well. Should we have invented a special word for the class of terrorist acts carried by Irish extremists? Ought we to have defined the terrorist acts carried out by Protestant paramilitary groups as something different from the terrorist acts carried out by Catholic paramilitary groups?

Let me give you a quick, realistic lesson from someone with more real world experience of terrorism than you have:

Bombs don't care.

The people who plant them do. The people with the weapons care. But fundamentally, when you are living in a city under terrorist threat, you have to accept a very basic truth:

You can't afford to muddle effective action against terrorism with religious bigotry. Or any other kind of bigotry.

Your wish to ignore the vast differences between different groups of terrorists because you think you can get to muddle them into one because they all more-or-less identify as Muslims, is as absurd as it would be if in the years of the Troubles British police were to have cracked down on pro-life groups because the IRA was setting bombs in the UK and they were all Catholics anyway, and the pro-life movement in the US were active terrorists, so - call it all Sanctus Bellum and have done with it!

Attempting to distinguish between the terrorist actions of Catholics who believe in an independent united Ireland and the terrorist actions of Catholics who believe women should die rather than have abortions, is just too narrow, too specific, doesn't allow for the subtle and not so subtle differences in sect, theme, etc.

Right?

"Otherwise, it's racist, or, as Eric explains, really it's all so diffuse and differently motivated that you really can't give it a single name. In fact, you cannot even, as I did, call it a "a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades".

The problem with this approach is that you get people lumping al-Qaeda in with the PLO, Hezbollah and Hamas, even thoug their goals are quite distinct - in some ways working at cross purposes.

For example, Hez is a Shiite group, who many al-Qaeda adherents would view as heretical based on their Shiite faith. Hez is interested in political power in Lebanon and countering Israel, and draws support from Syria and Iran. Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, wants to overthrow the regimes in Iran and Syria and replace them with fundamentalist Sunni caliphates.

Can you see why treating them as indistinguishable could muddle policy?

Another: al-Qaeda and like groups have been trying to get a foothold in Gaza for years, but Hamas has been rooting them out tirelessly because Hamas does not subscribe to their worldview or aspirations, and Hamas does not want the association.

However, for neoconservatives, it helps to describe these groups monolithically ("Islamofascist") because then al-Qaeda and Hamas and other Palestinian groups are treated the same - as necessary enemies of the United States. Neat and tidy!

Maybe people at this site should quit using the word "conservative" to describe people to the right because, you know, it fails to take into consideration economic vs. social vs. foreign policy vs. libertarian vs. Catholic vs. mainstream protestant vs. evangelical vs. fundamentalist vs. who-knows-what subset of conservatism.

This is true to a certain extent. I try to use a qualifier like "some conservatives" or "leading conservative politicians/pundits."

you cannot even, as I did, call it a "a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades".

With respect, I don't think the thing you describe here exists. Or if it does, it only does so by construing your definition so broadly that it loses any useful meaning.

In my very humble opinion.

McKinney, you're making a point with your list of the various aspects of conservatism that goes against your opposition to the criticism of your use of "Jihadism." You've listed various groups and postitions that fall under and self-identify with the conservative movement and tend to align themselves with the GOP. Sure, "conservative" is a broad term, but not very confusing. It works most of the time by being intelligible to most speakers and listeners. There is a coalition there, and you were easily and fairly uncontroversially, I think, able to list some of its components.

Your use of "Jihadism" is at odds with many other uses of the word, some having nothing to do with terrorism; inadvertantly lumps together terrorist (or not) groups that don't engage in what you call "Jihadism" with the ones that do, since they all, so far as they are concerned, are engaged in some form of Jihad, even if they are unconnected or unaffiliated with one another in purpose and organization, perhaps in some cases to the point that different groups are engaged in Jihads against each other (Sunni and Shia?); and serves no more purpose than the phrase "Anti-Western Islamic terrorism" if we are to accept your definition.

HSH makes a very good point.

The groups that McTex lumps together don't consider themselves to be working in unison, or even for a common cause. Many actually fight each other, with lethal force, or would should they come in close contact with each other.

The only common feature is that they are Muslim, although even then, not even uniformly Sunni or Shiite (which as we've seen play out in Iraq most recently, can be kind of a big deal).

On the other hand, the conservative groupings self-identify as conservatives.

Well, I guess that does that. Von Stauffenberg got what he had coming.

I suspect you meant the "It" to refer to "Jihadism." Is that right?

Yes.

The groups that McTex lumps together don't consider themselves to be working in unison, or even for a common cause. Many actually fight each other, with lethal force, or would should they come in close contact with each other.

Sigh . . .

I didn't lump even one group, Eric, you did. I did identify a group, Al Qaeda. Instead, I attempted to identify the concept of Jihadism as "a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades." Perhaps I should inserted the words "against the US and the West" between "terrorism" and "going."

I care not whether Group A dislikes Group B. I do care whether either group has its stinger out for the US or our allies--or anyone, really, who is a civilian bystander.

I do fail to comprehend the idea that a movement or a trend with known common denominators somehow cannot be described by a single, general category.

Jes attempts to illustrate her point with the IRA and the Protestant terrorists. Well, by doing so, she made my point. The Protestant terrorists had sub-factions as did the IRA. Still, they were known generally as the IRA and Protestants. It's the nature of movements that they splinter over obscure points of doctrine, but to outsiders, the general classification is still valid.

And, FWIW, it matters not in the least that Jihad means one thing in one context and something else in another. That's why we have the word context. Eric asked me what I meant by Jihadism, I gave a reasonable definition of what I meant by the use of the term and now we have a whole thread nit-picking over whether there is such a thing as "a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular . . .?" This doesn't exist? That will be news to a good many people. Beginning with the current administration.

The only common feature is that they are Muslim, although even then, not even uniformly Sunni or Shiite

And again, said big-tent lumping together will oft as not be quite happy to throw secular groups under the Jihadist label as well, so even the "they are Muslim" feature is muddled and/or in need of a caveat...

I care not whether Group A dislikes Group B. I do care whether either group has its stinger out for the US or our allies--or anyone, really, who is a civilian bystander.

I do fail to comprehend the idea that a movement or a trend with known common denominators somehow cannot be described by a single, general category.

But it kinda matters if one lumps 'em all together as if they're making common cause, which is what's going on when you make statements about "Jihadism" going back decades (and again, if you just meant AQ, you're giving them more credit for longevity than they deserve). Remember e.g. all that talk about how Saddam's Iraq was in cahoots with AQ because, amongst other spurious evidence, he supported Palestinian "Jihadists"? Remember how AQ considered his government an illegitimate apostate regime? Remember how the media didn't bother to consider this trifling quibble, as it was much easier to gloss over obscure points of doctrine like that? See how it might possibly matter whether group A dislikes group B?

More generally, all that doesn't quite jive with my understanding of the word "coterie". Especially since you've conceded you consider there to be some overarching organizational structure, even if only a loose one. If there's an assumption of interconnectedness of the sort that your choice of language betrays, I'd say it's pretty silly to assert that it's irrelevant if the groups you're lumping together want to see each other dead.

Jes attempts to illustrate her point with the IRA and the Protestant terrorists. Well, by doing so, she made my point. The Protestant terrorists had sub-factions as did the IRA. Still, they were known generally as the IRA and Protestants. It's the nature of movements that they splinter over obscure points of doctrine, but to outsiders, the general classification is still valid.

I don't think Jes made McKinney's point at all.

The IRA had an overarching goal: a united Ireland. Amongst the people working for that goal there were differences of opinion, philosophy, strategy preferences, etc. But the splintering was a subdividing of a movement that still arguably had (for most of the twentieth century) one major goal in common. Ditto the Protestant side of that conflict, which had the goal of preventing a united Ireland. Both sides were "movements" -- wholes that could "splinter" precisely because they were wholes in some sense to start with, and even to go on with.

The whole point of what McKinney calls the "nit-picking" on this thread is to point out that in relation to the groups he is lumping together, there isn't and never has been one movement with one overarching goal. These groups have never been "loosely organized" (McKinney's original phrase) in the sense of making common cause with each other or sharing the same goal. You can't splinter if you were never together in the first place. (I'm with envy about "coterie" as well, FWIW.)

I care not whether Group A dislikes Group B. I do care whether either group has its stinger out for the US or our allies--or anyone, really, who is a civilian bystander. I do fail to comprehend the idea that a movement or a trend with known common denominators somehow cannot be described by a single, general category.

What's the common denominator? I'd really like to know. Having your "stinger out for the US or our allies--or anyone, really, who is a civilian bystander" -- does Timothy McVeigh count?

For that matter, what about the person who attacked the mosque with a pipe bomb? The attack was against an American place. Presumably some of the people in the mosque were Americans, maybe all of them. Most if not all of them were probably also "civilian bystanders." Does the pipe bomb attacker count as part of that vast coterie with "its stinger out for the US"?

But it's almost surely the opposite. Theorizing in advance of my data, it seems like a good bet that the attack happened because the attacker was angry at the same vast coterie that McKinney is citing, egged on (the attacker) by the media's, and many Americans', lumping of people together as "the enemy" because of some perceived/invented common denominator. There's hyped up news coverage for days over the Times Square fizzle, and hardly a word about the pipe bomb in Florida. Thus the vicious circle spins.

McKinney, my point to you wasn't that there isn't a number of groups that are similar enough to Al Qaeda to be grouped with them and called something (if that's what you want to do). My point was that the word you chose to describe them was problematic for a number of reasons. It's got a lot of unnecessary baggage and is confusing, so it's probably far from the best choice. It's entirely up to you if want to use it, but you're also free to put beans up your nose, which is another bad idea.

Of course it's terrorism--domestic terrorism--but it's not the same specie or thrust as Jihadism

In what significant way is it different?

I'm talking about the terrorism part - the part where people act violently toward other people.

What is the significant difference between people in this country trying to blow up Muslims praying in a mosque, and Muslims motivated by god knows what blend of religious fundamentalism and political ambition blowing up Westerners in an office building or a subway?

The Muslims are better at it? Some are and some aren't.

What's the difference? And what's your point in trying to distinguish between the two?

Because to be honest I don't see a point to it.

When I hear 'pipe bomb', I think of German neonazis, typically 'lone wolves'. Leftist terrorists tended to use more sophisticated stuff.
Hey, when I heard RAF(at least in the past), my first thought was Red Army Fraction* not Royal Air Force. But what's the difference since both bombed buildings in German cities at some time? ;-)

*leftist terrorists

Jes attempts to illustrate her point with the IRA and the Protestant terrorists. Well, by doing so, she made my point. The Protestant terrorists had sub-factions as did the IRA. Still, they were known generally as the IRA and Protestants.

Actually, the two factions were known generally as the IRA and the Loyalists.

What you are trying to do is the equivalent of lumping IRA and Loyalists together because they're both Irish terrorist groups and both sets have it in for the English and innocent bystanders.

You, apparently, "care not whether [the IRA] dislikes [the UVF]. I do care whether either group has its stinger out for [the UK] or our allies--or anyone, really, who is a civilian bystander".

Shrugging them both into one group as "Irish terrorists" was helpful only to the kind of English nitwit who just didn't care about resolving the Troubles - only about regarding the Irish as a bunch of troublemakers killing each other over obscure points of doctrine, which mattered only when it spilled over into mainland UK.

And FWIW, I know British people - both English and Scottish - who really, like McKinneyTexas, wouldn't care about the difference between the UVF and the IRA, and would just lump them all into "Irish".

There have been known instances of Irish people being sentenced to jail for years simply because they were visibly Irish at the wrong time and the police beat confessions out of them which a court then used as evidence against them.

That kind of thinking "oh well they're all Irish" doesn't matter much in everyday life - though obviously it's infuriating/hurtful for Irish people who have to listen to "jokes" by Mckinneypeople who do just think in that kind of lumpish way about "Irish terrorists" - but when it creeps into actual policy or police work, it is horrifically damaging.

I think Hilzoy once found a quote from a senior Republican policymaker who had vaguely heard of Sunni and Shiite but had no idea what the differences were between them. Similiarly McKinneyTexas's idea that it doesn't really matter what the differences are between UVF and IRA, all that matters is that they're terrorists and enemies and Irish...

And of course it wasn't the UVF and the IRA that McKinney was lumping into one "movement" but the equally at-odds groups Hamas and al-Qaeda. My awareness is informed by my personal experience of living in a country experiencing terrorist attacks, and what works and doesn't work in personal reactions, policy, and policing work, which is, as a Brit born in the 1960s, the Troubles.

a loosely organized coterie of Muslim extremists who have a litany of complaints about the West and the US in particular and who have been committing acts of fairly large scale terrorism going back several decades

Once again, there is no group in the world that actually fits this description. AQ does not go back several decades.

Jes: your argument is weakened a bit when you say that the UVF "had it in" for the English. Most of their targets were NI Catholics, and they never carried out attacks on the mainland to my knowledge - they killed a couple of UDR men, but probably as a result of an internal feud. They didn't have their stinger out for the UK in any meaningful sense; they were, after all, Loyalists.

Jes: your argument is weakened a bit when you say that the UVF "had it in" for the English.

I'm going by what several Protestant Irish told me - that the UVF were no more keen on tbe British Army on their streets or the UK government making decisions on their behalf - or, indeed, "the English" as a lump if you're thinking in that lumpish kind of way! - than the IRA were. Irish / English antagonism / racism predates the Troubles by a long way...

" It would probably better, if imperfectly, apply to the fighting off of Crusaders in Muslim lands centuries ago, or lots of other things for that matter, than to modern terrorism."

Which lands were, historically, Muslim lands only because of earlier jihads, the Crusades being a fight to recover formerly Christian lands. The Muslim jihad got as far as Spain, if it had been a bit more successful, we wouldn't have Christianity today.

That historical note aside, why does everybody assume that, if a bomb is found in a mosque, it had to be an attack on Muslims by non-Muslims? As several have pointed out, Muslims do have their own, quite bloody, internal battles. This could quite easily have been a skirmish in that internal war. In fact, given the relative death tolls, I'd say the odds favor that explanation.

Which lands were, historically, Muslim lands only because of earlier jihads, the Crusades being a fight to recover formerly Christian lands.

Now that's historical analysis on about the same kind of quality and level as lumping the IRA and the UVF together as "Irish terrorists" or Hamas and al-Qaeda together as "Muslim terrorists".

For less than a century, there was a Christian kingdom in what is now Israel, and a few other "Outremer kingdoms" founded by the First Crusade: the Third Crusade (the famous one, mostly because of Richard I) was mustered to take back the Crusader states established by the First Crusade, and specifically the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The first Crusade was launched because the Seljuk Turks were at war with the Byzantine Empire, and the emperor Alexios, having beaten back Norman invaders in earlier wars in his reign, thought he could appeal to France for Christian mercenaries to help him fight the Muslim Turks. This turned into the First Crusade - contemporary accounts report Alexios as being astonished and not altogether pleased at having a horde of military men on a mission from God pouring into his territories when what he'd wanted were mercenary companies who'd take money and fight under orders.

It would be possible - and certainly successive Popes so defined it - to claim the wars of the Byzantine Empire against the Turks as holy wars of Christian against Muslim. But the Byzantime Empire was an empire, as powerful in its time as the US is today: empires go to war, it's what they do. When they can justify this war in moral terms "We're warring against the Evil Communists!" or "The Evil Jihadists!" they do that too.

why does everybody assume that, if a bomb is found in a mosque, it had to be an attack on Muslims by non-Muslims?

Just going out on a limb. If want to lay odds against, I'll take that bet.

To be fair to McKinney, there is something like a worldwide Islamic revival movement, that is a couple of generations long, which is more or less worldwide, and which has a definite political dimension.

And lots of folks who participate in it, or are inspired by it, or are sympathetic to it, think negatively of the West, for lots of reasons, some legitimate and some less so.

Where I disagree with McK is that I don't think you can call that a "coterie", or say that it is organized, loosely or otherwise.

To use McK's example, it would be like saying that political conservatives all around the world constitute a "loosely organized coterie". They don't. They're people who share some common values and/or some common social and political preferences.

To draw a geophysical analogy, you're not talking about a place, you're talking about weather.

And what I really disagree with is that there is a meaningful difference to draw between the use of terror in the name of political Islam, or the use of terror in the name of American nativism.

Blowing people up is blowing people up, period. We don't need special tweaks and interpretations to the law or the Bill Of Rights for different people depending on whether they're inspired by Qutb or Glenn Beck.

The link below explains what sort of happy situation existed in Jerusalem just before those fanatical Muslims came along and ruined everything with their jihadist ways. I first stumbled on this story a few years ago, reading a popular history of the Byzantine Empire. It was surprising to me in two ways--first, there'd been a Byzantine Emperor with Hitlerian ambitions I hadn't heard about and second, that there were areas where Jews had enough power to commit massacres of their own (with Persian help).

link

"Byzantine Emperor with Hitlerian ambitions I hadn't heard about "

That is, I'd read about Heraclius before--fought and defeated the Persians, was seen as a hero, then married his niece and saw his empire lose ground to the Muslims. But I hadn't heard about his plan to exterminate all the Jews--you'd think that would be better known.

why does everybody assume that, if a bomb is found in a mosque, it had to be an attack on Muslims by non-Muslims?

Yeah. It would mess up Eric's acronym joke, but we could change the basic heading to:

It's OK if your victims are Muslims.

Hence the difference in headlines.

Which lands were, historically, Muslim lands only because of earlier jihads, the Crusades being a fight to recover formerly Christian lands. The Muslim jihad got as far as Spain, if it had been a bit more successful, we wouldn't have Christianity today.

Brett, if you read the Wikipedia excerpt in my comment, you'll see why I chose the defense of Mulim lands from Christians and not the overtaking of Christian lands by Muslims. Are you suggesting that only the latter occurred and that there were no instances of the former? Islamic Spain is not news to me. In fact, my last name is that of a town in Jaen in Andalusia, well within the territories occupied by Muslims for a really long time. They even got in on the act a a little bit on mom's side of the family in Calabria, Italy. (Is this why I sometimes get funny looks in airports?)

Donald: To use McK's example, it would be like saying that political conservatives all around the world constitute a "loosely organized coterie". They don't. They're people who share some common values and/or some common social and political preferences.

As a further illustration: Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush are both conservative Presidents with very similiar political leanings with regard to nationalism, tax cuts, harsh punishments for crime and terrorism, etc. Would McKinneyTexas agree that Chirac and Bush and their respective supporters - conservatives all! - constitute a "loosely organized coterie"?

Jes--You're quoting someone else. I'm too lazy to see who.

I'd be happy to claim credit for it in the meantime.

You're quoting someone else. I'm too lazy to see who.

Russell. (Whom I would be happy to be mistaken for.)

"Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush are both conservative Presidents"

should have been "were both" - I seem to be living in the past in this thread.

Not directly on topic, but not entirely unrelated either:

Pictures from a day apart at the Daily Dish, http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/05/in-defense-of-rand-paul-kinda-ctd.html>here and http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/05/faces-of-the-day-1.html>here:

and

Us and them. Doesn't matter which us, doesn't matter which them. Haunting.

I didn't lump even one group, Eric, you did.

McTex, if you are citing terrorism that goes back several decades, then by definition you must be talking about more than al-Qaeda because it goes back little over one decade.

I do fail to comprehend the idea that a movement or a trend with known common denominators somehow cannot be described by a single, general category.

Well, this is odd. If you're not lumping groups together, then what does this statement mean? Which groups do you want to define in a single, general category? Or not?

Also, Brett, care to wager?

I say $50 to the charity of your choice that the perp was a non-Muslim. You said the odds are in your favor, so I assume you're game?

Actually, Eric: al-Qaeda goes back for two decades:

From Wikipedia :

Al-Qaeda,[...] alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa'ida, is a terrorist Islamist group founded sometime between August 1988[6] and late 1989.[7] It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless arm[8] and a fundamentalist Sunni movement calling for global Jihad.

Twenty-one-plus years: about twenty-one too long...

This could quite easily have been a skirmish in that internal war. In fact, given the relative death tolls, I'd say the odds favor that explanation.

Not to... well, okay, very much to pile on, but given where the incident in question occurred, this is beyond laughable. The utterly context-free logic driving it would be like saying that, e.g., if a US Army infantryman got shot and killed while on leave at home with his family, the odds favor his shooter being a Muslim insurgent, since these days most individuals who attack people like him are just that.

I think Hilzoy once found a quote from a senior Republican policymaker who had vaguely heard of Sunni and Shiite but had no idea what the differences were between them.

Jes: here.

I don't think I've ever heard the words, "pipe bomb," in any context other than to describe a deadly weapon used mainly by gangsters (mafia, bikers) against each other or by terrorists (KKK) against whoever pissed them off.

I associate pipe bombs with the Weathermen and other terrorists, though somehow the high school "prank" notion rings a bell. But it would be the sort of prank you'd get from a wildly irresponsible or possibly sociopathic student. (Which might also describe the Weathermen).

I associate pipe bombs with the attempted murder of highly effective activists.

Which was then aggravated by an organized effort to smear the victims as pipe bombers/terrorists...

We don't have a good definition of terrorist we have all agreed on. This makes it harder.

Jihad, though, is pretty well defined as war by Muslims to expand or defend Islam.

For individuals, it's hard to say whether it's terrorism, Jihad, brain tumor, or what. In cases of organized violence led by Islamic visionaries, it's pretty easy.

The IOKIYNAM phenomenon is kind of interesting, but it applies to the news media, not law enforcement. The cops will bust you for blowing things up no matter who you are, these days.

In the Middle East, it kinda works the other way, though. In recent history, there were two different 3-week wars against uprisings of the Muslim Brotherhood. The one Gaza killed under 1500 people. The one in Syria, ten times as many. Guess which one got the big news play? True, other things are never equal. The Syrian Massacre at Hama was back in 1982. But it's as equal as I could find.

@AreaMan: More people should know about the Hama massacre. But can I ask what it has to do with a pipe bomb attack against a mosque in Florida?

I believe it's meant to show that, while terrorism in general is fuzzy and hard to define, Islamic terrorism is plainly unambiguous, so any talk of IOKIYNAM amounts to PC wrongthink to force us all to whitewash the dire consequences of visionary Islamist Jihadism. Or something. The tone sorta suggests that, but I can't actually tell.

It really doesn't make any sense in context, nor does the last paragraph present the contrast to the second-to-last paragraph that it purports to. Does the fact that a larger death toll inflicted by a secular Arab government against an Islamist resistance group (and surrounding civilians) got more media attention than a much smaller death toll inflicted by a secular Jewish government against an Islamist resistance group (and surrounding civilians) somehow mean that, um, I don't know, the international media is trying to give violent Islamists a free pass or something?

Er, got less media attention. Sheesh.

We don't have a good definition of terrorist we have all agreed on. This makes it harder.

US Code, title 18, chapter 113B works for me.

Jihad, though, is pretty well defined as war by Muslims to expand or defend Islam.

This is pretty much exactly wrong.

The word jihad literally means struggle. As used, it can and does mean everything from the use of military force to expand or defend a Muslim polity, to personal struggle to live righteously.

The cops will bust you for blowing things up no matter who you are, these days.

What I notice is that white people can arm themselves quite heavily, engage in fairly sophisticated programs of self-training in military maneuvers and use of arms, and talk openly of taking up arms against their fellow countrymen and their own government.

Black and brown people generally can't get away with that.

That's what I notice. YMMV.

Jihad, though, is pretty well defined as war by Muslims to expand or defend Islam.

This is pretty much exactly wrong.

The word jihad literally means struggle. As used, it can and does mean everything from the use of military force to expand or defend a Muslim polity, to personal struggle to live righteously.

Hey, now, russell, none of that! We're talking about the definition of jihad in American English. Don't you be trying to muddy the waters by talking about what some Arabic false cognate means. Geez. To hear you talk you'd think it was a loan word.

"In the Middle East, it kinda works the other way, though. In recent history, there were two different 3-week wars against uprisings of the Muslim Brotherhood. The one Gaza killed under 1500 people. The one in Syria, ten times as many. Guess which one got the big news play?'

Anyone who reads about the Middle East knows about the Hama massacre. Friedman used to speak about Hama rules. And btw, if we are comparing things, the death toll estimates for Hama cover the same range as the death toll estimates for Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, also mostly civilians. You know,ten times or more greater than the recent killings in Gaza.

"What I notice is that white people can arm themselves quite heavily, engage in fairly sophisticated programs of self-training in military maneuvers and use of arms, and talk openly of taking up arms against their fellow countrymen and their own government.

Black and brown people generally can't get away with that."

I donno... The black and brown people I knew in the Michigan Militia back in the '90s were getting away with it. Their presence really annoyed the news media, I can tell you: Photoshop not being available yet, it was a lot of extra work setting up the camera angles...

Seriously, you CAN get away with arming and training yourself, and talking openly of taking up arms against your own government. The key to doing so is making clear that your taking up those arms is contingent on something that hasn't happened yet.

"We'll start shooting cops next Tuesday." gets a SWAT team breaking down your door. "We'll start shooting cops when they start going door to door confiscating guns." doesn't. It's a pretty simple rule.

The black and brown people I knew in the Michigan Militia back in the '90s were getting away with it.

Good on them.

Not a lot of brothers in the White Aryan Resistance, though, or the Hammerskins. Just saying.

The key to doing so is making clear that your taking up those arms is contingent on something that hasn't happened yet.

I'll keep that in mind.

"We'll start shooting cops when they start going door to door confiscating guns." doesn't.

The other thing I notice with groups like the Michigan Militia is that they are highly selective in the Constitutional rights they are willing to defend.

The feds are not, in fact, confiscating guns. They aren't doing so now, they haven't done so in the past, and they are extremely unlikely to do so in the future.

And that's less because of the threat of the mighty Michigan Militia, and more because Americans like guns a whole lot, and it would be political suicide to try to confiscate them.

Other Constitutionally guaranteed rights are violated now, today, each and every day, and we hear not a peep from the militia groups.

I personally am not a "water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants" type. IMO it's better for all concerned if we can settle our hash without shooting at each other.

My personal contingency for taking up arms is when folks start shooting at me or mine. Then the conversation will become heated indeed.

But the militia folks are all about presenting an armed resistance to tyranny. To my knowledge, however, they have yet to fire a shot in defense of any right other than that named in the 2nd Amendment.

Never mind fire a shot, I've never seen them in any public protest or other public action, and I've been to some.

To be honest, I think they just like to dress up and play with guns. Nothing wrong with that, it's just not the same thing as defending our sacred rights and liberties.

McTex: you find some on the far left who would accord full constitutional rights to people captured during a battle overseas.

No. The far left, historically, is eager to take rights away, as is the far right.

The GOP/Conservative line is definitely about defining what's 'left' and 'right', particularly 'far'. Of course, it's a value judgment: rhetorically, 'far right' has been only theoretical, barely a concrete category - we are lately seeing that conceit tested; extremism in the defense of libberdy is no vice, remember? So even a very large measure of brutality and repression (e.g. Pinochet, Franco) is not really 'far right'.

But the rhetorical conception of 'far left', notice - since there is virtually no violent, Marxist, or Maoist Left in the West - is defined (sometimes) as absolutist civil libertarianism. Sorry, but that's apples and oranges.

Also notice that some on what you might call the 'libertarian right' are very jealous of their rights (especially gun rights), but not not necessarily jealous at all of *your* rights. (I know that sort of goes without saying for some of you). Funny dat.

Ta-Nehisi has http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2010/05/toward-a-manifested-courage/57179/Joan%20Trumpauer%20Mulholland>the mug shots of the girl in the middle of the three people at the lunch counter in the picture I posted above.

She spent two months in jail. She was nineteen years old.

McKinneyTexas: just as you find some on the far left who would accord full constitutional rights to people captured during a battle overseas.

You sound as if you think that would be a bad thing. I guess that's the American right for you: regarding the ambition that the US behave like a country under law as a calumny.

Give McTex a break, he is just getting geared up to be outraged at Kagan's undergraduate thesis. One can't go from zero to high dudgeon without some sort of ramping up.

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