Journal 1—Moral Judgments on Terrorism Theo Eftimiades Thomas Hobbes called the escape from the fear of cruel

and arbitrary violence the ultimate force in the formation of civil society. The underlying assumption is that, before civil society, people lived in terror, as nothing they had, life included, was safe from other people. That fear of random victimization is both what distinguishes the terrorist act, as a form of violence, and fuels its efficacy. Terrorism, itself, is the infliction of the fear of arbitrary violence, as a means of expression and/or communication. Terrorism has characteristically been a word used to describe attacks perpetrated by a small, militant group of individuals. By definition, the term should apply to a larger array of activities. An act of terrorism consists of an intentional attack, to the end of expression or communication, the emanation of fear as a result of the attack, and then a change in the actions of the individuals victimized by fear.

Some events often called acts of terrorism, such as a political assassinations, elicit no terror of similar punishment in civilians; yet, because of the significant political effects an assassination has in the governing body, such actions are referred to as acts of terrorism. Generally, a killing with political significance will not generate fear in the populace; it would more likely engender anger and mourning. Thus, by my definition, such acts are not terrorist acts. Terrorism, the infliction of fear of arbitrary violence, is always wrong. The concept of terrorism is most often associated with the 9-11 attacks or suicide car bombings, but the word ought not to have such negative connotations. Actions history has come to celebrate have been acts of terrorism. The dropping of the Atmoic Bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were certainly acts of terrorism, being that the Japanese had no knowledge of how many bombs the United States had and their citizens lived in fear that they would be the next victims. I think that an act of terrorism can be deconstructed into three general parts. Below, each is considered

individually, towards substantiation of my claim of terrorisms inherent wrongness. An intentional attack, the first part of an act of terrorism, is sometimes justified, depending on the motive for the attack. This, of course, means that the initial attack’s ‘wrongness’ is completely subjective. At this level, I don’t feel a blanket statement of right or wrong is appropriate, being that the element at hand lies so deep in subjectivity; intentional attacks, themselves, can sometimes be justified, other times not. The second part of terrorism, the spreading of fear among innocents, which necessarily succeeds the intentional attack, is always bad. People are being used, without consent, to an end they might not agree with, as to avoid death. To man, there can be no more precious item than his own life. I find no manipulation more egregious than that which coerces a victim into unwilled action through the threat of death. The underlying assumptions are that a man’s life is significantly more important than any of his

other possessions and that all humans are inherently equal; to save me a lot of time, I hope you agree. The third part of the act of terrorism is the actual reaction – which came about through having fear spread among innocents by an act of violence. Action due to influence occurs in every person’s life, every day. Considered separately from its two other constituent parts, this element of terrorism is almost never morally wrong. For me, because the ‘wrongness’ of parts one and three of a terrorist act are so debatable, it suffices to ignore them and deem terrorism wrong because of the second outlined element, namely that of the spread of fear of death. People are equal. People’s ideas are equal. Never can another equal person assert themselves as superior to all others by threatening arbitrary removal of everything the potentially-victimized person is and has; das jus’ wrongg. The exception I see to the statements I’ve laid down above is that of terrorism justified by religion. My argument rests on the assumption that all people are equal and that

equals cannot take others’ lives. If a religion justifies the taking of a life, my argument does not stand; the two ideologies might potentially exist in incorrigible conflict. As a final note, and as an item for further debate, the irony is that oftentimes it’s unjust inequality that causes groups to resort to acts terrorism. While I cannot provide a cure-all for inequality that causes people to terrorize, I do think that the action, itself, is still wrong.