I remember a time when people who jumped out of hiding and attacked at random and without benefit of official military sanction were called guerrillas. The official definition from Google for these people is “a member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces”.

The official Google definition of terrorist is “a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims”. Apparently the difference between the two is who the target is. But is that even real? The jihadists seem to have declared war on the world’s infidels regardless of uniform.

I prefer the word guerrilla because it is closer to the word gorilla which is large scary animal and I could probably get the official Google definition for that, too, but we all know what a gorilla is. Today’s terrorists seems to be guerrillas which isn’t as terror inducing as the term terrorist.

In 1897, Frederic  Remington became very bored by the lack of anything newsworthy in Cuba and cabled to William Randolph Hearst, “Everything quiet.  There is no trouble here.  There will be no war.  Wish to return.”  In response to Remington’s message, Hearst reportedly replied, “Please remain.  You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

This is what has been described as the essence of yellow journalism. It is the usage of words as weapons. It is non-substance based “news” used to sell newspapers. It is how we know words matter.

Today, there is bad stuff in the world just as there has been since the dawn of time. If you are a Christian, you need look no further than the story of Cain and Able and if you aren’t you have your own history to check. Violence is a thing and always has been ever since that big guy noticed he could force that little guy to do something against that little guy’s will.

I am not denying there are horrible things happening around the world. I just want to know why everything bad today is carried out by a terrorist, a word which itself inspires fear and … terror. What happened to the nice old word guerrilla. I believe at the time, Che Guevara was a guerrilla rather than a terrorist, but I may be remembering wrong.

A terrorist will sell more news than a guerrilla can. I believe the world is no more hostile than it has ever been. In fact, looking at good old fashioned pictures of Inquisition torture devices, we seem to be less brutal now.

We are frightened of our own shadows because somewhere we began to believe that we could make the world safe. That’s ludicrous. If the bullets don’t get you, the germs will. No one gets out of this alive. It has always been this way. But at least now, we have antibiotics.

Someone decided that modernity could solve every problem. I have no idea why because when looking around the world, all the problems are still there and unsolved. We live longer, even in developing countries. (See what language does? These used to be called the Third World, but now they are “developing” even though most of these countries are in areas first settled by humans. Confusing.)

In our desire for safety, we are scaring the living crap out of ourselves and giving up the things that make life most desirable. Helicopter parents are protecting their snowflakes from any damage, making them unable to fend for themselves in kindergarten, college, and the real world. TSA agents are frisking old ladies at the airport and letting weapons on planes because the routine is never scrutiny.

Bullies are decried, but go ahead and try speaking without political correctness and see what happens to you, even if you are speaking the truth (as a scientific fact might be considered a truth or a historical fact might be considered truthful). But no one is teaching the bullied how to stop the attacks. Sometimes the way to stop being bullied is to fight back, sometimes it is to behave confidently – something snowflakes never learn. They are very adept at whining and pointing fingers, but they melt under pressure.

Words matter. Terrorist implies terror and helps to sell ink, airtime, clicks, whatever you are selling. Guerrillas don’t have the same cachet. Why are we helping the bad guys with our language. Oh yeah, Hearst taught us well.


Guerrilla or terrorist?