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Chinese internet users on Monday accused the United States of double standards after Washington condemned a deadly knife attack in southwest China but refrained from calling it a terrorist incident. (SCMP)

The China Hearsay verdict is . . . guilty! Lots of double-standarding going on with this one, but it says a lot more about America’s ridiculous War on Terror than anything else.

I think China is right insofar as folks here are criticizing certain Western media outlets and governments for not following the post-9/11 “terrorism” rules. This doesn’t apply to everyone, though. Some media outlets are quite careful with their diction and do not report on issues with the same black-and-white mentality that we see with the Fox News/New York Post crowd, which consistently calls every violent act perpetrated by a Muslim as terrorism and those (particularly U.S. domestic) committed by other lunatics as crimes.

So how should we view these headlines?

Chinese police ‘solve’ Kunming massacre

Kunming train station ‘terrorist’ attack leaves dozens dead

China separatists blamed for Kunming knife rampage

Kunming knife attack: Xinjiang separatists blamed for ‘Chinese 9/11′

The plethora of scare quotes tells us that something weird is going on. Editors out there apparently are not very confident that incident fits the post-9/11 definition of terrorism. Why?

Well, I have no doubt they are a bit confused. Muslims may have been involved – that would be a vote in favor of terrorism in the minds of most Western journos. But these guys are apparently fighting against the government in China — wait, are we for or against that these days? Tough call.

Then there’s the snark. Note the use of quotes around words like “solve” in addition to “terrorism” or “terrorist.” Did the cops actually solve anything or is there scapegoating going on here? Maybe it’s just a huge frame job. Maybe it was the guy on the grassy knoll? Not sure if this conspiracy theory is being propagated by the anti-China crowd or just nutjob 9/11 Truther types who are so mentally unstable that they can find a nefarious plot in their breakfast cereal.

Then there is the use of “blame.” To me, that word also has a conspiratorial whiff to it. “Hey, maybe these people are simply being used as pawns but didn’t really do it.” Nice way to frame the story. Was the Taliban “blamed” for 9/11 or were they “responsible” for 9/11?

So yeah, I’d say there is a double-standard here. And let’s be clear, these folks in Kunming were terrorists. A single guy with a knife is a lunatic or someone with the proverbial axe to grind (or a chef), but a large group of armed fruitcakes has an agenda. Targeting people at a public place is meant to instill fear and make a statement. This is textbook stuff.

9/11 was terrorism, and so was Kunming.

So why the double-standard? Pardon my bluntness, but when someone from the West calls a post-9/11 violent incident an act of terrorism, that means it is “bad,” whereas if that word is omitted, then the purpose is to downplay the moral culpability of the perpetrator.

Therefore the Palestinian bus bomber is a “terrorist” but the missile strikes by the Israeli government are “retaliatory actions.” Good guys versus bad guys. Me, I think they’re both wrong.

The 9/11 aviators were the bad guys, so the label “terrorist” works out well. The edged-weapons experts in Kunming? Well, since we in the West are not so sure whether we like Beijing these days, best that we withhold judgement on whether these criminals are deserving of particular disapprobation.

And how did we get here? The reason we find ourselves arguing over diction is the misuse of “terror” and “terrorism.” Terrorism is a tactic, and the people who perpetrate such acts are terrorists. If the intent is to terrorize, then by all means let’s use the word. But please, can we use it consistently, not just when we really want to demonize a group whose race/politics/religion we despise?

In America, Muslims are terrorists, but Christian freaks who bomb abortion clinics are just criminals. Palestinians are terrorists, but groups that fight against Communist regimes are “separatists,” “oppressed minorities,” or (please don’t make me say it) “freedom fighters.”

“Terrorism” is not, and should not be, a magic word. We seem to have gotten away from the obvious issue here: a lot of people are dead and injured, and the perpetrators should be condemned for their bad acts. Can’t we just leave it at that without engaging in political word games?


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