Define your terms

My boyfriend and I watched some coverage of the Boston explosions today. Some of the news coverage referred to the bombs as terrorism. After which my boyfriend commented that now that it was terrorism, the Arabs were going to be blamed for it. Not whoever was directly involved. Not whatever group they might be affiliated with. All the Arabs.

My boyfriend is Arab, if you’ve forgotten. Although I suppose a non-Arab could have noted the association between terrorism and Arabs too. But it’s particularly heart-wrenching to hear an Arab point out that the use of one particular word is going to implicate him, despite the fact that he could not possibly be more innocent and unconnected to the crime.

See also this article, which is the more scholarly explanation of what my boyfriend said and why it’s true.

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6 Responses to Define your terms

  1. Chantelle says:

    I hate how in so many minds “terrorist” is the same as “Arab,” which is also conflated with “Muslim.” 😦

  2. Kristine says:

    I agree with what Chantelle said. 😦 But those that are guilty of thinking that are ignorant.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Sadly, it’s not even just ignorance, thought that’s a big part of it. I find (online and offline) that people don’t understand the importance of precise definitions and logical arguments in just about everything, especially in law and mathematics, and just substitute whatever definition they feel like substituting. (I wrote a post not too long ago about why mathematics and art aren’t so different, presented a working definition of art in that post, and was completely disheartened when commentators just blatantly ignored the definition that I had put out.)

    Until today, when I read the article you linked to, I did not realize that the definition of terrorism included a political objective. I hope that when the President called the bombers terrorists, that it was because the FBI had found some new information.

    I suppose that I will never understand why some people are so ignorant and illogical.

  4. Alice says:

    It depresses me that there is still such ignorance – it’s such a false premise to assume that if there is a terrorist attack, that attacker must be arab.

    The article you’ve linked to has taught me something new as well – about the definition of terrorism, which really, I should have already known. Lesson of the day learnt.

  5. Liz(a) says:

    I think I read that article sometime last week, actually. I agree with it and the way it describes terrorism. It’s so unfortunate that everyone puts the blame on one set of people as if that entire set of people actually agree with what everyone in said set thinks, feels, behaves, etc. I explained this a bit better on my blog, I think.

    If I remember correctly, first a lot of people blamed Arabs, then Muslims, then all of the Islamic people. It’s ridiculous and revolting how quick to judge others and put the blame on a specific party people tend to get and be.

  6. Liv says:

    That is just so ridiculous if people are blaming Arabs about Boston. I actually haven’t heard anything on that, but I hope people don’t blame Russians either. Americans are always preoccupied with nationality for some reason. According to them, Uyghurs are Chinese just because they live in China.

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