The aphorism “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a concept I have been contemplating lately with the violence between Hamas and the IDF raging so rampantly.
To state first and foremost, and this might be an insult to your intelligence, but I do not support terror in the current political climate. I am not here to radicalize you, whatever that means (just check out the confused entry for “radicalization” over at Wikipedia). And I certainly am not here to give you the “Anarchist Cookbook” and say “have at it” in an effort to overthrow the capitalist system. Not at all.
But what is the difference between a “freedom fighter” and a “terrorist?” Over at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary they define a freedom fighter as “a person who is part of an organized group fighting against a cruel and unfair government or system.” Whereas the define a terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”
That said, cannot these two be interpreted as the same thing merely based on outlook, subjective interpretation, or even simple opinion? A terrorist can fight in an “organized group” as do freedom fighters, and a freedom fighter, as did the Russian Partisans and the French Resistance, use violent acts to frighten people, namely, the Nazis and their collaborators, as a way of trying to achieve a political goal, namely, the end of the occupation by the Third Reich.
Let us now, though, get down to the utmost glaring classification of a violent group labelled once as freedom fighters, and now as terrorists: Afghanistan’s Mujahedin.
At one time they were championed by the West as freedom fighters following their resistance to the Soviet invasion of 1979. They were portrayed fighting for their national autonomy and reestablishing their religious convictions against the atheistic Red Army. They were even provided military arms by the U.S. Congress. But after their victory in terms of the Soviet retreat in 1989, they established the Taliban as their ruling entity. Then, while America was sleeping, came the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the 9/11 attacks. And the former (?) Mujahedin-headed terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, was behind the attacks, all the whilst, operating under Taliban rule.
Where were the lauded Mujahedin Fighters then?
One thing I do know is that the ruling powers of the globe all have a common enemy in terrorism/freedom fighting. Why? Because terror/freedom fighting movements are all from below no matter what form or fashion the ruling powers may be constructed in. If you run a liberal democracy, attacks by a people’s fascist-right would be tantamount to terrorism. If you run a Communist regime, a pro-democracy faction’s attacks would be called terrorism. No matter who is in the ruling position, all violent acts from below could be classified as terrorism. Then, following an overthrow in said examples, the terrorists would no longer be “terrorists.” They would have become “Freedom Fighters.”
“One man’s army is another man’s freedom fighter.”
One thought on “Freedom Fighter or Terrorist???”
Hmm.. so, would you classify those who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War as freedom fighters.. or yet the more familiar, “rebels”, which was a classification you failed to identify in your post. But let’s not stop there. The Brits called those who fought for American independence as rebels, yet they (the “rebels”) themselves were called “patriots”, although they do fit the definition of “freedom fighters”. No one seems to want to be called a “terrorist” as that suggests violence for the sake of violence just to prove a point. Was the Boston Tea Party an act of terrorism or a demonstration of the will to be independent… a political statement? Depends which side you are on. If I owned all that tea and was making a claim for the loss with my insurance company I’d likely say “those damned colonial terrorists did it.” rather than saying, “a group of freedom-loving colonists with legitimate political gripes against British rule did it.”
Religious extremists, jihadists, renegades, mavericks, the politically disenfranchised, democrats, republicans, socialists, fascists, communists…….
In the end, does it really matter what label they use? Apparently to the one’s using that label… but to no one else. Where’s a good AK-47 around when you need one.