DefinitIon for Terrorism. One: creating terror. Definitions of Terrorism: desired effects include being blinded by fear, instilling top 10 fears, fears of death. Over coming fear? How?
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Definition for Terrorism. One: creating terror.
Here: definition for terrorism, definitions of terrorism - blinded by fear is part of definition for terrorism.
WESTERN TOLERANCE and ISLAM
AN ONGOING BARRIER - FEAR
"You have nothing to fear but fear itself." It's a famous quote. It doesn't fit all situations. It certainly doesn't fit what is happening with Islam. Death threats. Actual widespread murdering. Plus there is the internalized fear instilled into many of those with the religion, that if they go against it they will be punished by their deity. Hell. A very powerful tool for keeping people in line, supposedly faithful, actually too scared to think - like rabbits frozen by headlights. (Christianity has also used this tool enormously well, more in the past - but wonderfully, love is replacing fear in many branches.)
The list of those menaced with death by Muslims is long. The Danish cartoonist is just one of many. A plot to murder him was recently foiled. (Religion of peace???!!!) Many other people - including a well-known filmmaker - have been murdered.
So, a vital part of the definition for terrorism is that it creates terror, instills terror. If you end up wanting to talk things out, have a good relaxed conversation to work things out, that's not terrorism. Is you were not willing to talk to someone or some group, you may, as a result of terrorism, be willing to talk - but in this case, it's because you're too scared to hold to your original position.
Another part of the definition for terrorism is that the target isn't people's feelings - except of course for the very powerful feeling of terror. But people aren't afraid of having their feelings hurt. "Oh dear me, I can't believe what I heard. I'm deeply offended." So definitions of terrorism must include the use physical violence - maiming and murderous physical violence - sometimes aimed at random people, sometimes at targeted people. The targeted people are likely to be individuals who have offended people within the terrorist group, have said something they didn't want to hear, didn't want to allow to be said. The random people are usually from the group defined as enemy - but may include people from the terrorist group if they happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
For further definitions - and there are many - please turn to other sources. Here my concern is with that huge part of the definition that includes terror, fear, dread, horror. Terrorism scares people. And responses include: freeze, flight, fright.
It all sounds so nice and theoretical. Terrorism means this ... Terrorism means that ...
My reality. I listen to the news. A CARE worker is Iraq is captured. She will be killed, her captors threaten. No imam raises his voice in protest. No mass marches by Muslim moderate.
Is it worth it speaking out? I would certainly not do it for Muslim moderates. What risks are they taking on my behalf? None. Or anyway, none that I can see. What I see instead is Muslim moderates saying to people like me: shh, silence, no need to upset anyone, if you upset anyone it's all your own fault.
I don't see courage there.
I do see some courageous Muslims. The most famous one, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fled from the Netherlands to the United States. A price on her head, of course.
And as usual Muslim moderates did not protest en masse. If they were upset at Islamic terrorism, it was in the privacy of their homes.
But that wasn't part of my journey. I didn't even know of Ayaan Hirsi Ali until recently.
I did know of the price on the head of Salman Rushdie, who dared to publish Satanic Verses. I haven't read the book - but over and over I knew: speak out against Muslims favoring jihad, and you are at risk.
My journey. It goes back much further than anything to do with Islam. It has to do with a lack of belief that I will get heard, and an urgent desire to be sure I'm right - and only after that comes to fear of Muslim pro-terrorists angry.
Slowly, over the past couple of years, I've built this site which draws browsers. Not a massive number now (April 2008, but over 13,000 page views last month) So I'm building confidence that I will be heard.
And as for being sure I'm right, that's something that's often stopped me. Which candidate is more right? Which policy is more right? About some things, it's been easy to decide, but on other matters, what a struggle. So much evidence, and not all of it clearly pointing in one direction. And then of course, missing evidence. Here, I've done research and lots of thinking. And in many areas of my life, I've come to the position that the best way of getting sure if my position is right is putting it out into the world, and seeing what comes back. Then I can listen, see if something makes me want to modify, do more research, add points.
The final frontier - actual fear. I wrote about that in a journal entry early on. Fear was there. Then it vanished. And since then there's been very little. A few blips, but very little.
Seeing other people speaking out, reading their views, most often on the web. In other words, this is not Nazi Germany or Nazi Austria - part of my parents' history.
Speaking. Taking the first step, then another and another - like bringing up my views and writings in my classes, then having them on the web.
I do hear that often it isn't easy - for instance, someone who started out Muslim but came to be against the Muslim religion and built a site explaining his position, had his site damaged from the inside by Muslims (early 2008).
I do wonder: is it worth it? I have so many other interests - music, spoken word, a virtual cafe, as well as other idea interests. At times, I go: is this my battle? I'm not Muslim. But I live in this world, and to flourish I need a world where I can explore, think freely, express - and this isn't possible in those parts of the world where Muslim fundamentalists have taken power.
I don't want to be living in a small island of personal safety, where I think and flourish - while around me sharks of fear hunt out freedom of thought, of feeling.
Often people are aware of their fear. But many times they are not - the fear has frozen deep within them - so they only become aware when they try to act, and come face to face with the fear.
Sonia Johnson, a Mormon housewife, had to face deeply internalized terror when she went on her journey From Housewife to Heretic (her own terms, the title of her book chronicling her journey). She came to believe that anyone from a repressive background would have to go through a deep fear zone - most likely including dreams of terror. Fear is the mind killer, she came to believe. Fear is the mind killer that most people remain unaware of, living their everyday lives within the circle of fears they do not confront.
The media and terrorism. I have often wondered how much of the media niceness when Muslims go on about being offended while responding with outrage and violence - I have often wondered, to get back to my wondering, how much of the media response has been fueled by one of the top 10 fears, fear of death. So, the media and terrorism - something else to consider when one looks at the fear created by terrorism. Again, is this a case of fear is the mind killer?
And then there is the whole area of tolerance - definitions of tolerance which have nice Western people acting as they could not think, as if fear were wiping out all the potential benefits of critical thinking, as if critical thinking were entirely impossible around this topic, as if any definition of cultural diversity had to include a taboo on thinking about another culture, taking in evidence. Blinded by fear? I wonder. Once again, is this a case of fear is the mind killer - where people respond with outrage when someone asks them to think outside the box, when someone asks them to do something where the numbed areas, like a foot that has long been asleep, needs to be awakened and jolts the body with needles of pain?
When i hear all the expressions of pride in freedom of expression in tolerance, in celebrating diversity, in celebrating the current freedom of religion in American and Europe, I ask myself:
what is happening when someone screams in outrage about being offended
Fear can be healthy - it alerts us to potential and actual danger. It is often very destructive, if we freeze when action would be required, if we bolt when we need to look so we can see clearly, and also if we rush into combat if other routes are far more effective. I am not suggesting rushing into combat. I am for combating fear, refusing to be blinded by fear.
In my own small way, I've had to face fear when writing and speaking and putting online my thoughts on what I see happening with the Muslim religion. Fear has played a role in my own journey. I started out unsure whether I should put my name to the first piece I wrote. A colleague agreed with what I was saying - but urged caution. If I passed the piece to students, best not to let them know I was the writer. My partner likewise wasn't sure if I should put my name to the piece. And I live in Canada! What is this, I ask?
The answer is clear. Fear.
And I know that I'm less careful when tackling someone like Bush - no need to be careful - or when I'm looking at Western poor thinking. Maybe some people won't like something called a stupid opinion, but that's about it. There's no threat, no danger. I may sometimes choose my words carefully, but that's because I'm trying to reach people - not because I fear.
And again, why isn't every supposedly moderate Muslim out protesting against this aspect of the Muslim religion? If it isn't because of their own fear, it's due to something worse than fear - not thinking about things, not evaluating what is more important, and perhaps on some level not caring for the safety of all people to speak out. They care if they are offended. But for the much graver situation - others being threatened with violence, and others being killed - general silence!!!
Along the way, I stopped and wrote about my own journey through fear.
I've also written about something else, something that motivates me to speak: hope, hope that the speaking will have an impact, hope that the speaking will reach people. Hope - even stronger than fear.
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copyright Elsa Schieder, 2008, 2011, all rights reserved
Definition for Terrorism, Definition for Terrorism
Definition for Terrorism. One: creating terror.