CNN: Come and See the Softer Side of Terrorism

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jul 26, 2006 1:38 PM

Tom Foreman, a CNN correspondent, delves into the moral vagueries of what makes a terrorist on Anderson Cooper's blog:

What makes a terrorist?...

The United States and others clearly call Hezbollah a terrorist group: The source of countless raids, bombings and attacks on Israel; the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, which left 241 people dead; and the architects of all those displays in which young men cover their faces, strap mock bombs to their chests, and parade before the cameras pledging to kill any and all soldiers and civilians alike who oppose their cause.

All this makes Hezbollah, especially for many westerners, the very definition of a terrorist group.

But some people describe another part of Hezbollah. They talk about a group that is beloved in southern Lebanon for running schools, hospitals, social services, even clearing snow in the winter for some communities that the official government of Lebanon does not serve. They say these things make Hezbollah something other than a terrorist group: A quasi-government; a nation within a nation.

All of this is done for Shiite Muslim families. The Shiites in Lebanon have long felt economically and politically deprived, and Hezbollah clearly gives many of them a feeling of both military and social strength.

So for one side, Hezbollah is a killing machine bent on seizing by terror what it wants from the world; for the other side, Hezbollah is a brave force, fighting for the rights of its people.

So what should the standard be? If you ran a newsroom, how would you define who is called a terrorist and who is not? What, for you, is Hezbollah?
What, for you, is Hezbollah? What is your own personal truth, being that there is no absolute truth? What is Hezbollah given that they give so much back to those they're not indiscriminately showering with human shrapnel? Who's to say?

I saw a lefty on Fox News this morning defending Hezbollah in this way. Look, I do youth ministry with a group called Young Life. It's a great Christian group that brings spiritial guidance, mature friendship, and quite often, Cheetos and pizza and trips to Six Flags, to high-school kids all over the nation.

Great organization, right? Well, imagine if a good segment of us Young Life leaders was more than pleased to strap plastic explosives around our waists in the name of Jesus and kill whichever high-school kids didn't accept Christ into their lives. What if our stated mission were to support the Christian kids with pizza and Cheetos and to detonate anyone who believed differently than us? What if we encouraged other Christian high-school kids to do the same to their friends who weren't Christians?

Would the media be fair and balanced about presenting the softer side of Young Life-- the side where we buy food and drink and talk about life with high-school kids we care about? Yeah, I think not. If our stated mission were that is right and good to murder non-Christians for their beliefs, then we don't really deserve a lot of credit for treating Christian kids well, do we? You know, because we'd be murders. We'd be terrorists.

Is this really so hard to understand?

Lorie has this to say:

Hint to Tom Foreman: when an organization is "the source of countless raids, bombings and attacks on Israel," bombs U.S. Marines and engages in "all those displays in which young men cover their faces, strap mock bombs to their chests, and parade before the cameras pledging to kill any and all soldiers and civilians alike who oppose their cause," it is safe to call them terrorists. Got any more questions?
Jack Kingston's blog sounds off, here, and commends the commenters on Cooper's blog.

UPDATE: My, how sensitive! I'm hearing that someone at Anderson Cooper's shop has called Kingston's office to complain about their outing of Foreman's ludicrous comments.

"How dare you highlight stupid things that I, a
public figure, say in a public place for public consumption! It's such a conspiracy!" Riiight. This could get interesting.