Once again we hear that “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.” In this case it relates to the Middle East -- http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/israeli-group-accuses-palestinians-of-glorifying-terrorists-with-landmark-names/19468717 -- but the comment is universally made and is accepted to reveal a great truth. I disagree.
While is obviously true that what Israelis call a freedom fighter or a terrorist is often the exact opposite what the Palestinians call a freedom fighter or a terrorist, and vice versa, the two are entirely different states of being with different definitions. A freedom fighter is one who struggles to gain what he perceives as justice and, yes, freedom, for his nation or people. “Freedom fighter” describes the purpose of a person’s actions.
“Terrorist” describes the type of action taken by an individual. The purpose of terrorism is to bring about some result; usually political, sometimes moral, by inflicting terror and fear on a target group.
The two terms are clearly not interchangeable. It is entirely possible for a freedom fighter to abjure all terrorist actions. It is also possible for a freedom fighter to embrace terrorism.
I can’t call it extreme focus, since terrorism is always an extreme; but I use the example of a largely defused terrorist/freedom fighter situation to illustrate the case. Consider Ireland. Brutally invaded by the monstrously cruel war criminal, Lord Protector Cromwell, and held in savage bondage for centuries thereafter by the evil empire, Great Britain, Ireland’s people responded by fighting for their freedom. Sometimes they took legitimate and appropriate military action, sometimes they took terrorist action. Often the line between the two became blurred and confused. Nevertheless, the point is clear that one can fight for freedom with or without using the tactics of terrorism.
I have a deep emotional commitment to the cause of Irish freedom. I insist that Ireland must one day unite and become the one nation she justly deserves to be. Yet I condemned the terrorist actions of both the IRA and the various Protestant organizations that for so long caused what the Irish described as “The Troubles”. In other words, I supported the cause while condemning the more extreme tactics.
Consider Gandhi. A freedom fighter to be sure, but can anyone say he is a terrorist?
Note: I use the Irish example because so much progress has been made. a situation which existed in a state of mutual hate and terror/counter terror for centuries has moved to peaceful effort to resolve the issues. Thank you Bill Clinton, Rev. Paisley, and so many more. The impossible happened after 300 years in Ireland, it can happen in the Middle East, but let’s not wait quite so long.