Saturday, 14 November 2009

In the eye of the beholder

For some unknown reason today I decided to surf the net and chanced upon 'terrorism' as a subject which interested me.

Mostly terrorism doesn't interest me. That is to say, it does, but it scares me stupid (which takes some doing!)

Today, though, I lingered. I found out some fascinating facts.

First of all, there is no specific widely-accepted definition of terrorism. No, none that everyone agrees is fitting.

I think that terrorism or fear of it is an excuse to pass draconian laws against what is not, and will not be, a grave threat to anyone.

Oh, I have no doubt at all that there are people called terrorists somewhere who find that all their political arguments, all their religious zeal, all their so-called rights count for nothing against the might of the state or a group of states or the world generally.

It's all in the looking.

So, one man's terrorist may see himself or herself, or even be, another man's freedom fighter. Possibly it's a great shock to find that society feels you are such a threat to them, or you have such a poor reputation, that you need to be locked away or merely just monitored, but you can bet that your freedom to speak, act and feel as you deem you should will be compromised.

Here we have a few definitions from eloquent men as to the meaning of terrorism:

"Terrorism is the deliberate, negligent, or reckless use of force against noncombatants, by state or nonstate actors for ideological ends and in the absence of a substantively just legal process."
David Rodin (Oxford philosopher)

Deliberate use of force. How do you define force then? Is it the making of someone or a group do something that they find offensive and repugnant? Could it be manipulating home educators into believing that a faulty and ridiculous court of the Badman review has found solid evidence against them and means that their right and proper educational freedom will be curtailed in future because some bureaucrats do not, and refuse to, understand the meaning of education?

By state or nonstate actors for ideological ends. In home education, the state itself has taken up our case as being 'not us' and is fairly determined that we shall be forced to accept registration, licencing and monitoring for no justifiable reason.

The absence of a substantively just legal process. As home educators have grown to realise through all our channels of heart-rending appeals and thrashing about attempting to get someone in power - anyone in power - to cancel the abysmal review of home education, there has been no just legal process here. There is nowhere to go, no-one to whom we can explain our case (as yet) and assert our innocence.

Other definitions of terrorism:

"Terrorism constitutes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted." Walter Laqueur

If you take 'the illegitimate use of force' as smearing and defaming home educators, and continuing to discriminate against this minority group then, yes, I think Walter Laqueur's definition is a dandy one to think about. Especially, the 'when innocent people are targeted' bit.
We are certainly innocent. The clearest and most accurate figures about home educating adults show that they are probably much more likely to be trustworthy with their children than are the rest of the population. So innocent. Yes.

"Terrorism is the deliberate use of violence aimed against civilians in order to achieve political ends". Boaz Ganor

Once again, violence can be seen from the beholder's viewpoint. From mine, I can see the many hours I spend - and so many good and true home educators spend - attempting to shore up our rotting and disintegrating civil rights and maintain the status quo as a form of violence against us. That status quo which was illegitimately stripped from us when Graham Badman - the cheerleader of the dodgy review -told a home educator "The status quo cannot remain".

"Terrorism is the premeditated, deliberate, systematic murder, mayhem, and threatening of the innocent to create fear and intimidation in order to gain a political or tactical advantage, usually to influence an audience". James M. Poland

I think we can say that our situation was premeditated - how many consultations have we ploughed through in the last four or five years? Deliberate? It is hard to see how this constant barrage from the heavy guns of government could have been an accident. Threatening? Well, the final and inconceivable threat is that we will lose our children to a callous, vicious system. Our children will be wrenched from our arms by social workers or government officials simply because we are anything but compliant. We are not the norm. We do not think that the government's sanctioned morass of half-baked theories and hothouses for bullying called schools are good enough for our young. So fear and intimidation is a technique you use on a segment of population who fail to conform. You frighten them into submission. You coerce them into letting their human rights evaporate like the shimmering mist of truth and freedom that we thought we knew in our country.

The influencing of an audience, of course, goes on daily. Mr. Brown cannot spell or write properly because he is blind in one eye. Poor Mr. Brown. The old I-feel-sorry-for-the-lad feint. Re-direct your opponents' rational and natural anger by playing the sympathy vote.

There's the sickly-sweet 'we must safeguard children' song soughing in the background too. All very plausible until you realise that the children the authorities could have safeguarded were left in unsafe conditions. It rather falls apart then.

Darul Uloom Deoband said at the Anti-terrorism Conference in 2008, "Any action that targets innocents, whether by an individual or by any government and its agencies or by a private organisation anywhere in the world constitutes, according to Islam, an act of terrorism".

According to Islam, we have the case of the home educating community, milud. Accused of incubating a terrorist cell in one (mythical) Islamic home educating family, turning our beloved babies into domestic servants, being involved in child trafficking, abusing our young, and being so mentally ill as to wish to subject our offspring to extreme medical procedures in order to have some attention for ourselves (Munchausen's by Proxy, anyway), I think we have been targeted and we have been threatened and we have suffered acts of terrorism.

The General Assembly resolution 49/60, titled "Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism," adopted on December 9, 1994, contains a provision describing terrorism:

"Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them".

Incubating a state of terror in any one group of citizens in a country is unjustifiable. This terrorism of the UK government is totally without foundation and is not to be justified under any consideration.

"Hence depending on the perspective of the state a resistance movement may or may not be labelled terrorist group based on whether the members of a resistance movement are considered lawful or unlawful combatants and their right to resist occupation is recognized. Ultimately, the distinction is a political judgment".

In other words - the words of Edward Peck, U.S. Former Chief of Mission in Iraq (under Jimmy Carter) and ambassador to Mauritania:

"And so, the terrorist is, of course, in the eye of the beholder".


  1. Well... what can I say? In a sense, we are indeed a form of terrorists, because we are against the 'norm'. Aren't we? At least we are against what our government so blatantly makes obvious it wants us to do. I could go on and on about that, but you don't need me telling you. Oh, by the way... awesome dude.

  2. You make a wonderful point. The state as terrorist agent against the population within its own jurisdiction. Again, similar thoughts have been hovering in my brain, but I was not able to articulate them. Unfortunately, state schools prepare the population to accept this domination as the natural and acceptable order of things. My belief, and hope, however, is that it never lasts forever. The human spirit cannot be kept down indefinitely by these tactics. You are the leaders.

  3. Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist, for decades.