Dissidents, Rebels and Terrorists: the lexicon of our times
In situations where life and death is a function of comprehension, the human mind creates more and more reference points to describe and thereby differentiate life threatening situations. For example, typical Americans commonly use only a handful of terms to describe snow, including the actual word snow, sleet, freezing rain, and a few others. Eskimos, on the other hand, have many words to describe snow. Snow that is falling, snow on the ground, snow in blocks, and snow that makes wavy patterns each are explained through the use of separate words. Snow is a central feature in Eskimo culture, thus it is essential that sufficient vocabulary exists to specifically describe it.
What this tells us more than anything else is that the precision of weather awareness, required for the typical American who spends most of their time in an air-conditioned buildings, is much less than that of an individual, an Eskimo, who lives and dies by their interpretation of the weather.
Like Eskimos, Americans face threats as deadly as the weather and likely have more terms for those experiences than do Eskimos. Currently, Americans are engaged in a Global War on Terror (GWOT) and it is their awareness and interpretation of the political climate, both at home and abroad, which will determine how many American lives will be lost from the ever looming threat of terrorism. But we are not just talking about the safety of American soldiers serving in Iraq today or even a civilian American death toll. We are indeed talking about the overall quality of life of Americans and their future role in the world.
What’s interesting about the “Weather is to an Eskimo” as the “GWOT is to an American” analogy is how much we can learn from the former to survive and succeed with the latter. If a typical American were to find himself in the arctic, how might he learn to cope with the weather before he freezes to death? The obvious answer is “Ask an Eskimo” but, as there is a distinct language barrier to overcome, his survival, at least initially, depends on keen observation. A friendly Eskimo would, more than likely, give the seal skin jacket off of his back to make sure the American survives his initial encounter with deadly cold weather. With time, good relations and careful observation the American could not only survive but thrive in the arctic. Transmitting lessons, such as layering clothing to maintain body heat, back to mainland America, end up benefiting all Americans.
It is this same survivalist strategy that is winning the GWOT for Americans despite that fact that only a few Americans, America’s finest in fact, are fighting and dieing in Iraq and Afghanistan. However there are stark tactical differences. Unlike the arctic where the threat is localized, terrorism occurs all over the world. While terrorism is a global, not a regional, phenomenon it does have regional origins and hotspots where the best and brightest Americans need to be, in order to make the necessary friends and learn the essential lessons to make the world safer for all Americans.
Our collective safety is in part related to the lexicon of our survival. It contains words and phrases like: terrorism, jihad, mujahedeen, Islamo-fascism, martyr, suicide-bomber, rebel, and WMD to name just a few. We have come to know these words and the fear that defines them but they are just symbolic measurements, if you will, of human experiences that reference one ore more concepts on an infinite continuum of reality. To grasp the full scope of our war on terror, I recommend to all Americans, particularly American journalists, that they find words that are synonyms, antonyms, more moderate, more extreme, similar in any respect, equivalents in other languages and so on, so that they can interpret what the “Eskimo – Weather” and the “American – GWOT” analogy has shown us. In a logical sense, we are all Americans in the Arctic. If we waste our time and dismiss the most potent observations of the men and women serving in those hotspots Americans will loose the GWOT, a loss the free world cannot afford.
In conclusion, the GWOT must be won. It will be won by those who understand and can articulate the threat Americans face and the lessons learned by the best and brightest Americans who risk everything to make the world safer for all Americans. So... listen up!
To try to influence public officials on behalf of or against (proposed legislation, for example): lobbied the bill through Congress; lobbied the bill to a negative vote.
To try to influence (an official) to take a desired action.
One who disagrees; a dissenter.
characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards
disagreeing, especially with a majority
a person who dissents from some established policy
To refuse allegiance to and oppose by force an established government or ruling authority.
To resist or defy an authority or a generally accepted convention.
To feel or express strong unwillingness or repugnance: She rebelled at the unwelcome suggestion.
One who rebels or is in rebellion: “He is the perfect recruit for fascist movements: a rebel not a revolutionary, contemptuous yet envious of the rich and involved with them” (Stanley Hoffman).
Relating to or being a revolution: revolutionary war; a museum of the Revolutionary era.
Bringing about or supporting a political or social revolution: revolutionary pamphlets.
Marked by or resulting in radical change: a revolutionary discovery.
A militant in the struggle for revolution.
A supporter of revolutionary principles.
One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism
adj : characteristic of someone who employs terrorism (especially as a political weapon); "terrorist activity"; "terrorist state" n : a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
Of, involving, or having the nature of crime: criminal abuse.
Relating to the administration of penal law.
One who is guilty of a crime.