Thursday, January 13, 2005

hmmm.. i wish i had something insightful to write about, but i haven't been feeling particularly insightful lately. am i ever insightful? not too likely. hmmm, wait, i think i've got something.

so in history and historiography we were talking about Yazid Saygh (that's Sy-er) and his book Armed Struggle and the Search for State. Probably the best account of Palestinian nationalism written. We discussed how Saygh never uses the word 'terrorism' in his book. this is understandable. he doesn't refer to either jewish or arab terrorism as such. the stern gang and hamas are demarkated as terrorist organizations. this is quite respectable on saygh's part as he's writing history, and in doing so he's giving the reader the facts and leaving the judgement up to others. terrorism is a label that carries a lot of weight, and that weight can often be misproportioned. anyway, i wont get into all that.

i did, however, think of an interesting story that i'll bring up next time to see what the prof has to say. back in high school a friend of mine had a button with a swastika with the international sign for 'no' across it. (i.e. no smoking). A teacher stopped her and told her to take it off because it would offend someone. she retorted, "who am i going to offend? nazis?"

there's something appropriate in this when it comes to using the word terrorism. the problem of giving a clear definition that covers all grounds. well, there are certain cases that are clearly acts of terror. i think if a writer gives a definition of terror, than certain cases can safely be referred to as such, while others will simply have to be left ambiguous. however, the writer would still be quite bold in doing this, and i'm not convinced using a term like terrorism is necessary or appropriate when writing history. all one needs to do is explain, say, the munich olympics and what happened. the word terrorism is not necesary.

even as i write this i'm coming up with all kinds of conflicting notions about this. i'll have to think about this more when i'm a bit less cold. damn winter.


Blogger Josh said...

eff you and your effing Tel Aviv winters...this is brrr

January 14, 2005 at 3:13 AM  
Blogger Brian H said...

Now, now. We wouldn't want to incite the neo-Nazis to acts of violence, would we?

January 15, 2005 at 8:43 AM  

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