Glenn Greenwald makes a strong argument that the word “Terrorism” has become a meaningless propaganda term in the West. Or maybe not meaningless, but the meaning has sunk to “any heinous act of violence perpetrated by a Muslim or other minority, usually against white westerners”.
How else do you explain how hardly anyone is describing the shooting in South Carolina as terrorism, even though the goal of this hate crime was to terrorize blacks. Indeed, early news reports even declared that there was “no sign of terrorism”. Would they have said the same thing if the shooter was Muslim?
Greenwald points out how the term has lost all meaning, allowing it to be used for pure propaganda:
The examples proving the utter malleability of the term “terrorism” are far too numerous to chronicle here. But over the past decade alone, it’s been used by Western political and media figures to condemn Muslims who used violence against an invading and occupying force in Afghanistan, against others who raised funds to help Iraqis fight against an invading and occupying military in their country, and for others who attack soldiers in an army that is fighting many wars. In other words, any violence by Muslims against the West is inherently “terrorism,” even if targeted only at soldiers at war and/or designed to resist invasion and occupation.
By stark contrast, no violence by the West against Muslims can possibly be “terrorism,” no matter how brutal, inhumane or indiscriminately civilian-killing. The U.S. can call its invasion of Baghdad “Shock and Awe” as a classic declaration of terrorism intent, or fly killer drones permanently over terrorized villages and cities, or engage in generation-lasting atrocities in Fallujah, or arm and fund Israeli and Saudi destruction of helpless civilian populations, and none of that, of course, can possibly be called “terrorism.” It just has the wrong perpetrators and the wrong victims.
And this is not a new phenomenon. Even before 9/11, our government branded Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. Iraq was on the terrorist list, then off it, according to our whims. Reagan armed and funded terrorist groups in Latin America, while hypocritically condemning Russia and Iran for being state sponsors of terrorism.