IS A GANGSTER A TERRORIST?
I got a very interesting email yesterday from a regular reader. He mentioned the young Palestinian boy with the explosive vest who was stopped by Israeli checkpoint troopers. The reader made a comparison between HAMAS using easily-controlled kids to do their bidding and our own local gangsters who do the same.
He wondered if we couldn’t apply the term “terrorist” to our home-grown gangsters since they seem to employ the same tactics as terrorist groups. At least when it comes to manipulating impressionable young people to do dirty deeds.
That’s a tough one. Agreed, some of the tactics are the same. Like the PLO, and others, gangs intimidate and victimize their neighbors and everyone in the neighborhoods they claim. That’s a chronic problem when law enforcement comes knocking for eyewitnesses to a crime. Nobody sees or knows anything.
So in a way, you could say that gangs use terror to further their goals. But so do the Italian Mafia and every other criminal organization. Terror is the currency of criminals. But my sense is that the term “TERRORIST” should be reserved exclusively for islamo-fascists and other groups who have an agenda far more ambitious than the aims of street gangs. Street gangs don’t want to bring down a government. In fact, they like this one just fine the way it is. Under most other justice systems, there’s no such thing as a jury trial, free lawyers, sentencing guidelines or appeals for murder convictions. Even a drug conviction can get you executed in Red China and many parts of the Middle East. Here, the County sends a car to your house to bring you to the treatment center if you can't get a ride.
Like liquor and antibiotics, the term TERRORIST should be used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. Throwing it around too loosely dilutes the impact to the point that it becomes meaningless.