Sunday, September 28, 2008

Terrorism = Piracy and Slavery?

President Bush made a comment at the UN last week that's been bugging me.

I usually try to keep politics out of this blog, but this isn't really politics- it's more fundamental than that.

Speaking to the leaders of the world, President Bush said it is necessary to show that, "like slavery and piracy, terrorism has no place in the modern world."

That really worried me. The terrorism that we have experienced in the past few decades is absolutely nothing like slavery or piracy.

Firstly, as a matter of fact- piracy is obviously not eradicated, or even hidden from the United States as the USS Howard is currently pursuing a hijacked ship off the coast of Somalia.

That just seemed like a factual error to me. More disconcerting was comparing terrorism to slavery. Slavery was widespread, government approved and indeed part of the foundation for the economic system of mercantilism. It was accepted. It was legal. It was not just condoned, it was pursued enthusiastically by government agents. Obviously that changed, but these were the foundations of slavery in the early modern era.

Terrorism, on the other hand is illegal. That is a fundamental difference. Terrorism is a political tactic used by fringe groups to gain recognition and support. It seems to undermine politics and economics rather than support them. These are all fundamental differences. Terrorism has never been legal. Slavery certainly was (3/5 of a person, anyone?). Terrorism has never been the foundation of economics for major powers. Slavery was.

Obviously the president wasn't going for that much analysis, but I think that it does history a disservice when false analogies are drawn.

Hopefully I'll feel less bothered about it now that I've gotten it out of my system.

1 comment:

Cookie said...

Slavery is still with us as well as piracy. Some things never really fade away.

One would think that President of the United States of America would be aware of that fact. Then again, this President does not seem to be overly bothered by the buggaboo of facts or truth.