Thursday, October 20, 2005

Founding Fathers of Terrorism are French

Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit has linked to a book named Holy Terror, which suggests modern day terrorism has its roots in France. This is something I've been saying (and writing) for quite some time now. The mention on Reynolds' site brought to mind the last time this topic came up, which was during my blogging hiatus.

Back in July, Col. Oliver North penned an editorial taking exception to a comment made by Brian Williams (Lead Anchor at NBC) during a Nightly News broadcast.

On June 31st, following a report that Ahmadinejad might have been one of those who sacked our Tehran embassy and seized 52 American hostages in 1979, Williams said, "What would it all matter if proven true? The first several U.S. Presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called 'terrorists' by the British crown."

Brian Williams proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that television news anchors are only as smart as the tele-prompter.

Of course, Mr. Williams' comments are absurd for reasons so obvious, even a high-school dropout and indigent blogger can easily point them out. The British would not have referred to American revolutionary fighters, to say nothing of George Washington, as terrorists because, frankly, the French had not yet invented terrorism. The United States began its experiment in democracy by protecting loyalists in a document known, ironically, as the Second Treaty of Paris in 1783. The French began their experiment in democracy a few years later with a decidedly European twist known as the Reign of Terror. The Online Dictionary of Etymology offers the following notes on the origins of terrorism:

1795, in specific sense of "government intimidation during the Reign of Terror in France" (1793-July 1794), from Fr. terrorisme (1798), from L. terror (see terror).

"If the basis of a popular government in peacetime is virtue, its basis in a time of revolution is virtue and terror -- virtue, without which terror would be barbaric; and terror, without which virtue would be impotent." [Robespierre, speech in Fr. National Convention, 1794]

General sense of "systematic use of terror as a policy" is first recorded in Eng. 1798. Terrorize "coerce or deter by terror" first recorded 1823.

Brian Williams should pick up Terry Eagleton's book, Holy Terror. He then might learn that terrorism is just a long line Euroisms foisted upon mankind, including colonialism, imperialism, fascism, nazism, and communism.


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