Who benefits from the label of ‘terrorism’?

Last week, an armed man entered a Manila casino, and began shooting. In the end, at least 36 people were dead, as was the gunman. After the attack, Islamic State claimed the attack (twice!), and even President Trump called the incident an act of terrorism. The police, on the other hand, said it was not terrorism, but an attempted robbery gone horribly wrong. The gunman was said to be a gambling addict.

Why would both a terrorist organization and a politician both label an attack terrorism, when is wasn’t? As I was asked recently, who benefits from labeling something ‘terrorism’?

First, terrorists themselves benefit. Coverage of a successful attack spreads their message, and spreads fear. Coverage of terror attacks is one of the best forms of propaganda. 24 hour news coverage is free, and has a worldwide reach. The news organizations display the terrorists’ messages, pictures of the dead and wounded, and spread fear of more to come. The very act of terrorism is to instill fear through violence or threat of violence for a certain, often political, gain. The more terror attacks there are (real or perceived), the more people will fear the terrorists, and sometimes even giving in to the demands.

Second, the politicians who are looking to curb freedoms benefit. In the Philippines, President Duterte declared martial law after militants stormed Malawi City. Duterte, no stranger to extrajudicial power plays, could have used the Manila incident to justify the need for even more crackdowns in the country. This is something that has been going on in Erdogan’s Turkey for years. In that country, incidents are routinely blamed on the Kurds, and then used as an excuse to limit rights and even jail people. President Trump benefits by drumming up support from his base for his travel ban. In the aftermath of this weekend’s London terror attacks, Prime Minister May suggested regulating the internet to “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online.” In short, politicians use the fear of more attacks to push their agendas and gain power.

Third, the news organizations benefit by way of ratings. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a common refrain. Despite the horror of a terror attack, people sit glued to the screen for hours, watching experts and hosts try to make sense of the tragedy. The longer the news channels can keep talking about an incident, the longer people will keep watching.

And finally, a certain class of individuals benefit by being able to push their personal agendas. Over the weekend, a woman asked how the London or Manchester attacks were considered terrorism, but the Sandy Hook shooting was not. She was implying it was due to race/religion, and using that point to attack others. Seemingly lacking the understanding that terrorism is a specific thing, she (and others) have used terror attacks not to have a legitimate conversation about the perpetrators of terrorism, but to attack people for imagined discrimination.

Even if a crime is not actually terrorism, there are people who benefit from labeling it as such. And it often comes down to fear or power, no matter who is doing the labeling.



A Diary of WWII, part two

Growing up, I knew my grandfather was in World War II. He served in the Pacific, from New Guinea to the Philippines. Like many WWII veterans, he did not speak of it often, only sharing little anecdotes and funny stories. It wasn’t until after he died that we found a diary from his time in the Army. The diary only covers a few months, from February 1945 to May 1945. I am sharing it as a way to give a personal view left out of so much war writing, and to preserve a little piece of my history. I hope you enjoy…

These are my grandfather’s words. I have not altered them in any way, including spelling. If a word was illegible, I left a blank.

A. 10. Today we broke the record in the Southwest Pacific for being in actual combat. 67 days is the longest for any outfit today makes 68 days straight. We also stand reville daily.

A. 11. Went to pick out a new position for B btry up at the Inf. front lines. We ate dinner with them. They showed us a dead pro-jap they had killed the day before. We find a problem today don’t know the facts yet.

A. 12. had vehicle inspection this morning. I went back to where (Calamba) B btry were alone,to mail some packages and get money turned in for money orders.

A. 13. Nothing new happened today. We got our beer, also our money orders City of Calamba

A. 14. Went to rear __, then then to 54th hospital. When I got back I saw a movie the name Lara.

A. 15. Went to Combia after mail. Oh yes had pork chops for supper. No activity.

A. 16. I went back to Manila today. it was really a sight to see, how they are rebuilding it up again. I did get alful mad trying to buy some ice cream they wanted 4 pesos for a cup. I went on out to Clark field. they have liberty ships at the docks unloading. you can see jap ships around there. it looks like Pearl Harbor. We really had a nice trip. We are now 76 miles of Manila. No activity.

April 17. Well Baker btry moved out to ourselves again today boy I’m glad of that, we had quit a job laying our wire. We only fired a few rounds.

A. 18. All I did was put our line over head. City of Tianog

A. 19.fired on 50 japs don’t know results yet.

A. 20. Carried out patrol didn’t find any japs

A. 21. Carried out another patrol killed one jap

A. 22. Out patrol killed five japs, we also fired on targets

A. 23. Sent out patrols got two japs. I carried a horse we captured from the japs to the G. Col. house.

A. 24. Shot a jap in the foot and captured him his rank was cpl. We carried him to our O.P. and questioned him he told us where the other japs around here were. 82 days in combat.

25. Moved to a village near Santo Tomas went though San Pablo, it was a pile of ruins.

26. We loosen up our guns today 700 rounds.

27. We did a lot of firing on jap personell I was also very sick from the shot we had.

28. did a lot of firing over B.C. got hit with a piece of scrapnel Not bad, it was in the foot. I made a trip to Santo Tomas and to Lipa. We also got our beer.

A. 29. I went to Lipa on to Clomba then to our to be rest comp. Come back and went to a show :Together Again” the Inf. took the hill we have been firing on so much. We gave them a few voleys to start them off.

30. Worked on my jeep til noon, then we pulled one gun on top of a mountain and fired 100 rounds point blank. Charge 3. it was really fun to watch it. there were japs all around us. A bull doser ran over one and smashed him flat. the mountain is near San Pablo. I also got paid today. I draw 72 pesos and 20 centaves.

May 1. I went to 98th evac. Hosp. to see Bob Lange. City of Real. We pulled the one gun back on top of the mountain. It rained so they can’t get off. saw a show also.

May 2. Our gun got off the mountain by wenching theirselves down. I drove our warn officer Mr Hunt to Calamba had a flat on the way my first one in combat it took all after noon for me to fix it.

May 4. We moved our rest area at Los Banos after 92 days of actual combat.

May 5. We worked like hell all day. saw a movie that night.

May 6. We moved back into combat ease of Manila fired all night. saw the japs shoot a pilot of a P38 and of course the plane crashed. he shot him with a rifle.

May 7. We fired all day. long on cover also all night. We are now supporting the first Cav.

May 8. We fired all day and all night. I was alful sick.

May 9. We didn’t fire a round because the Inf. took all eight hills they were after.

May 10. Moved to another rest area near Manila. Another sentence here is badly faded, and unreadable.

May 11. Was busy pulling up tents.

May 12. I was in bed sick all day.

May 13. drove Capt Hon to Manila for some supplies. Up untill May 10 we fired 130000 rounds of ammo have credit of knocking out 14 – 75 MM. 6 – 105 MM. 3 – 155 and one 12 incher (or 30 senmiters) About 8 or 10 prime mover and a flock of trucks and horses. 600 men also 85 we killed with small arms. (we had 18 men wounded only one killed. two bronze stars so far.

That is where the diary ends. Pfc Thomas P. Bridges was discharged on 31 Aug 1945. He left the Army with (according to a detachment form) an Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with one Bronze Battle Star, Overseas Service Chevrons-Two, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star. God bless my grandfather, and all other veterans.