One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter

By Other Staff
February 28, 2002


Every freedom fighter can be called a terrorist, just as well as every terrorist can be called a freedom fighter, yet it all rather depends on who is doing the labeling. These terms may be interchangeable from person to person and from group to group, but there is no way to combine the two into one concept and pretend that the other one doesn’t exist. These terms are two completely different symbols of fighting with a lot of similarities. Terrorist and freedom fighters both fight against their oppressors, but I think freedom fighters try to use different means other than violence to get their point across.

There have been a lot of misconceptions about freedom fighters, just as there have been about terrorist. The biggest misconception is that all freedom fighters are terrorists.

Many people argue that there is no way to define one or the other yet who is truly going to argue that Gandhi was a terrorist? Or Jesus? Or Marin Luther King Jr.? Not many would take up that mission; they would look pretty silly. These men were the farthest thing from terror. They are the complete opposite of the next misconception, which is that freedom fighters are about “the guts and glory of battle ’til the death.” Taking such extreme measures for freedom may have been the popular road to travel centuries ago, but today some of our freedom fighters are, or were, the most spiritual examples of peace. Gandhi and King were these kind of men. Today Sandra Loranger is a living example of this kind of a freedom fighter

Loranger has been the first person in the history of the United States to be put in jail for feeding the homeless. “If feeding people is a crime, I am beyond rehabilitation,” she said. She served 45 days because she could not stand by knowing that others were hungry. The Municipal Court of Santa Cruz County, California, did not agree with her. It tried to regulate the commercial kitchens. Can we call her a terrorist?

These are the cases that cause me to shake my head and say, “No, these men and women were not terrorists.” By their supreme example of what a freedom fighter is could cause some people to rub out the concept of a terrorist before wiping out the concept of a freedom fighter. Well, no, that’s probably not true; but I can’t see the existence of one term without the other.

Sometimes I think that the question of whether there is a difference or not is just a ploy to get some kind of philosophic answer that is going to reveal some special insight on how you see the big world.

The whole saying that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist is true. But the real point is, there is a choice. Man has a choice to see his freedom fighter as a terrorist or not. I believe man needs to have that choice. We cannot label everyone solely a terrorist or a freedom fighter.

It’s an interesting concept to think that there are two types of crusaders in the world; both symbolizing the two different extremes of good and evil. I see Martin Luther King. Jr. as one of the greatest freedom fighters of all time. I don’t see how he could ever be one man’s terrorist, but I guess he could be if you wanted to put some sort of twist on what he was saying and try to make him out as some bad immoral person. Then you could maybe go as far as saying that the man who killed King was not a terrorist, maybe he was a freedom fighter. Sure, you can say that and I will hear you out; but don’t for one second think that I believe you and will be stepping on your bandwagon.

Like I said before, I think there is a difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist; but I think everyone is going to have some trouble agreeing on who belongs where, which is fine, as long as there is still a choice.

On Sept. 11, 2001 the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City fell after being hit by hijacked airplanes. The Al Qaeda, a known international terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden perpetrated the attack against the United States’ symbol of democracy. To the eyes of millions of Americans, Osama bin Laden and his following are terrorists. However, in the eyes of Al Qaeda and their followers, the groups are freedom fighters. Therefore, it could be safe to assume that one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist.

The Al Qaeda views itself as freedom fighters. The Al Qaeda views the United States as evil and therefore tries to do anything that is possible to drive the United States out of Israel. They feel that the United States military desecrates the sacred shrines of Islam by their presence. They feel that any means imaginable is proportional to the end. They are working to rid the world of democracy. Therefore, they struck out on the World Trade Centers to wipe away the symbolic heart of democracy. They feel that the United States power usurps the powers of God and is, therefore wrong. To them, the people in the World Trade Center were not innocent. Rather, they were part of the nation of evil that we call home. They are fighting for the freedoms under the rule of God. They view democracy as their enemy so they attack on United States soil and other areas affiliated with the United States.

On the other hand, the United States views the Al Qaeda as a terrorist group. On September 11, the country shook in a state of confusion, sadness and fear of what might happen next. Most of the nation had never heard of the Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. They thought that the act against the World Trade Center was the first time that the Al Qaeda expressed anything towards the United States. However, Osama and the Al Qaeda plotted to rid the United States of Israel as far back as 1989. Terrorists traditionally target symbolic targets that contain many innocent people. Multifarious peoples died in the attack against democracy. Some of the people were not American. Some might not have even been for democracy. Innocent bystanders died. Americans view this as one of the worst acts of terrorism ever perpetrated on American soil.

Freedom fighters and terrorists walk a thin line of differences. The main difference between the two is how the media portrays them. The media views terrorists as groups that perform violence against a group of innocent people for anti-democratic political gain. Our country viewed the Trench Coat mafia highlighted in Littleton, Colorado as internal terrorists. Personally, I agreed with the majority of Americans. However, there was a group of people who viewed these students as freedom fighters striking back on a society where they were oppressed. On the other hand, the media glorifies the works of freedom fighters. Mother Theresa, a non-violent freedom fighter shone throughout her career due in large to her portrayal by the media. However, the United States also considered itself freedom fighters during the Bay of Pigs invasion, which perpetrated a disaster. In the eyes of Cuba, our country posed a terrorist threat. Patriots during the start of our nation were viewed in the eyes of our country as freedom fighters. The media and the budding colonies revered the men that took part in the Boston Tea Party. They respected the men as freedom fighters of the times; therefore, the men were looked upon as heroes. However, they partook in terrorist acts against England. This fondly told story of our American history illustrates how one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. And history continually repeats itself.

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