That is, when is a massacre a genocide, and when is it solely a massacre?
Today and next week my students are tackling the definition of ‘terrorism‘ within a moral framework.
Naturally, one could follow the urbane definition (an act that inspires terror), but then one must add acts of cultural terrorism, resistance, legitimate motivations and the dichotomy between secular and religious terrorism.
Today’s group drew a plethora of conclusions with no unanimous agreement: for some it could only be terrorism if committed under an ideological banner; for others, blood had to be spilt; for others yet, the term ‘terrorism’ is redundant and without point.
Another stressed the role of nations and uniforms (that is, if you have a nation then it is war; if not, it is terror.)
Ultimately, it is about context: if the objectives are in person A’s interest, then it is freedom-fighting/resistance/just war.
If it is not in person A’s interest, it is sheer terrorism.
Then there is the issue of state terror: in the cases of Iran, Tunisia and one might even stretch it to Egypt, the repression and enactment of violence against the people (be it on a slow, individual-by-individual basis or en masse) could be deemed terrorism.
The moral ambiguity invariably leaves chills: surely the loss of life is unjustified in any circumstance, be it terror or just war?
One could muse upon it infinitely.