What’s all the hoopla about?

The main difference between terrorists and other political murderers is that a terrorist is without a formal government sponsor. He may still be obeying orders, mind you, but not official orders backed by uniformed goons and tax revenue.

So a terrorist is likely some guy who is so unhappy about his perceptions of reality that to change them he blows up people he doesn’t even know, and often himself too, in the hope that some political arrangement will change, that powerful people will behave differently and reality will alter to his liking, although by then he’ll be long gone. His idea is that it’ll all be worth it in the end, which is of course yet another idea. That’s my understanding of a terrorist, although Wikipedia says that “there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism” and I can see why.

A terrorist act is aimed at creating an effect beyond the direct death and destruction, like “shock and awe,” the catchphrase for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was supposed to cause the people left to give up, singing the praises of the U.S. of A. Dastardly acts done for their own sake, like fine art, are another matter, and while perhaps deplorable, they’re not terroristic. Jeffrey Dahmer was not a terrorist; Jack the Ripper, maybe.

In mass media, being thought of as a terrorist is pretty awful, like being thought of as a communist in the ’50s. That was all hooey, too, along with the flap about Wally Herger (Sheep-Calif.) complimenting a self-declared “right-wing terrorist” in Redding. Without a perceived need to fill space in a printed periodical or provide content as often as possible on the Web, none of us would’ve heard about the Herger story.

The “right-wing terrorist” opened with, “Uh, Wally, my family came over here, one side of my family, on the Mayflower. The first winter was rough, but they didn’t have their hands out for somebody to support them.” So here’s a middle-aged man who doesn’t know the story of Thanksgiving and thinks that being completely unprepared for survival is the American way. The crowd applauded.

“We built this country on people . . . The reason this country is so great is that we stand up and we earn what we’re entitled to.” He went on like that, one preposterous statement after another, eventually calling himself “a proud, right-wing terrorist” and Obama a “self-appointed king.” Wally Herger called him “a great American.”

Even Wally Herger didn’t think that the guy was likely to blow up anybody for political reasons, even on a dare, and neither did the people applauding. The rest of the hoopla is like children vilifying the one they think farted, and the thinking is all it amounts to, namely nothing much.