Is Terrorism Ever Morally Defensible?
The term terrorism has many different definitions. The most accurate definition of terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation, especially for political purposes.1 Terrorism is based on an act of violence. It kills, hurts or injures many people who are innocent for the reason of making a point or for political objectives. Most of the acts of violence caused from terrorism is either manipulated by another person or leader or is intended to make a strong point from the act of violence. The term ethnocentrism can also influence terrorists because they may feel that their views or culture should over rule or power of everybody else. For example, the Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist group that was formed originally from six confederate Caucasian men who manipulate their group into violent acts costing lives of innocent people (“Spartacus Educational: Ku Klux Klan” 10/20/2011). The act of terrorism causes violence, deaths, conflicts or wars, devastation, mourning of the deaths of innocent people, loss for families, damage to our environment and society etc. There are not many arguments that conclude to why terrorism is understandable or justifiable in our society. The violent act of terrorism is not and will not ever be morally defensible. Terrorism evidently proves how it affects innocent bystanders and their families, what the act of terrorism leads to after the cause. These are contributing themes to relay and evidently prove why terrorism is not morally defensible. Terrorist attacks are unknown and can happen anywhere at any time. Usually these terrorist attacks tend to occur in public areas where it is either a significant location or in a public area with many civilians. Either way, the location of where the terrorist attack takes place will always include the loss of lives of innocent people or civilians. It is morally right or defensible for terrorists to take the lives of innocent people to prove a political point, or even a general point? The obvious answer to most human beings and society, is no. Taking lives of innocent people is unjustifiable and morally wrong, especially if the act is intentional.
Every act of terrorism is illegal. “At the present time, I3 international conventions or protocols exist that prohibit specific acts of terrorism. These arguments have been developed and are maintained under the auspices of the UN and stand as the express will for the world community… it became abundantly clear that it was necessary to do more than simply declare terrorism to be contrary to law, it became necessary to deal with the issue on a global basis. International law is clear: terrorism is a crime” (Michael 2008). Though it is a crime, it does not matter because the acts of terrorism are still the same; morally wrong. In the article Terrorism, Morality, and Supreme Emergency written by C. A. J. Coady he states “The second thing is that the wrong of terrorism, even on my relatively restricted definition, is not undifferentiated. For one thing, attacks upon noncombatant property can be much less grave a matter than direct attacks upon life and limb. There is certainly a moral presumption against such attacks, but it may be rebuttable given grave enough reasons. Presumably, no one thinks that the property of innocent persons is of such significance that nothing could ever justify its confiscation or even destruction” (Coady,2014). When it states ‘no one thinks that the property of innocent persons is of such significance that nothing could ever justify’ (Coady, 2014), this may conclude a justification for terrorists to act upon their attack. The terrorists may target innocent people because it has no relation to anything or anyone. It could also be the fact that they do not care about the innocent lives, they care about the point that they are trying to prove. Not only are the terrorist and terrorist acts are taking lives of innocent people, it affects families of the innocent people and the overall society. The violent act of terrorism does not only effect the people or civilians in a society, but it effects the society and world overall. The reasoning of why terrorist act the way they do and think the way they do will always be questionable. Terrorist attacks take place to make a point or prove something. The attacks are usually appointed to make a point through political domains. The debate of why terrorists act upon violence the way they do is and will always be questionable. The way terrorists act through their actions, the tactics or strategies they use does not prove anything expect for the fact they are killing innocent people. “The first is that terrorism is not the only wrong that political violence can commit. The intentional killing of noncombatants is morally reprehensible, but so is the bringing it about that combatants are killed in an unjust war” (Coady, 2004). Again as stated before is it morally right for terrorists to act upon violence and killing to make a point or political point? Another debatable or questionable statement is why terrorists do what they do?
What causes them to want to act in such violent manner or what makes them want to kill themselves to prove a point. We will never fully understand why people act the way they do and view things the way they do. It may be that terrorists do these violent acts because they do not feel that they are being heard, that they are trying to obtain something or prove something politically. As stated before, it could be the term ethnocentrism, which individuals may feel that their culture or views should dominate and overrule everybody who does not view the same views. It could also be manipulation of leaders who have very strong views and if you do not follow them they will die anyway. There are many reasons why terrorists do what they do, but we again will not fully understand why they do what they do, to just prove a point. “Terrorism has been with us always. We can no more create a new terrorism than we can cleanse the earth of terrorists. Terrorism is what it always was. So are people. Until that changes, one can only think of the immortal observation of the German writer Friedrich von Schiller from centuries ago: “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain” (Kurtulus 2011). In this statement terrorism seems to be something that can never be fixed or stopped. Do we feel that people never change their ways or views? Though we many think that there are alternatives or methods to fix or stop terrorism, there will always be people who do go against society’s norms. As stated in the quote, terrorism has been with us always and terrorism is what always was and the only deciding factor that will stop terrorism is if people can completely change. The fact that terrorists think they have to approach issues or conflicts through the means of killing innocent people is unjustifiable and morally wrong. There needs to be an alternative method for people to know globally that there are ways to get a point across without the means of violent acts. Cooperation, dialogue or communication is a strategy that needs to be more publicized and aware. Though communication and dialogue seem to be an easy solution that would work for people, there will still be people that do not feel that communication is enough. Therefore the approach to prove their point politically by violent acts of killing, wounding or bombing does not contribute to terrorism being morally defensible. Lastly, the effect and impact after a terrorist attack is devastating to our society.
Terrorist attacks have a large impact on society. Terrorism is not seen as an everyday crime, but more of an international crime. Terrorist attacks are well thought out plans that are set up to intentionally kill other people, for the purpose of proving a political point. Therefore it leads to the exact opposite of peace and reconciliation; it leads to more conflict and violence. Terrorists use violence to prove their overall point and the response of terrorism never leads to anything more but violence. This fact that terrorism leads to nothing but conflict and violence; it is what contributes to why terrorism is morally wrong and unjustifiable. There are many historical facts that evidently prove that terrorism creates these kinds of ongoing conflicts. The terrorist attack that had such a great impact in our world was the 9/11 incident in the year 2001. The suicide attack was a very shocking and devastating incident that killed many innocent civilians. The terrorists were ordered to hijack planes to set out and crash into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.2 This terrorist attack is still affecting our society and world globally. The after effects of the 9/11 attack were huge and detrimental. There has been ongoing conflicts and violence since the terrorist attack, especially war. Creation of war based on terrorist attacks not only includes violence but affects our society because more lives are at risk. Sending endless numbers of army troops to fight is what seems to be morally right after attempts of terrorist attacks.
The term two wrongs don’t make a right is taken into consideration when discussing conflict of war after terrorist attacks. Terrorism is based on violence and the fact that the response to terrorism is through means of more violence and revenge, it makes an ongoing process of violence and war. Another point that negatively contributes to why terrorism is morally wrong is the after effect of racism, hatred and stereotypes. The specific example that relates to this, is the 9/11 terrorist attack. The terrorist attack of 9/11 was invented and created by the leader Osama Bin Laden who was a Taliban from Afghanistan. He manipulated other people to believe and think the way he does. When 9/11 happened there was nothing but stereotypes, racism and hatred towards anyone who was or may have been from Afghanistan. The fact that society and our world categorized every person who may have been from Afghanistan is morally wrong. The world was quick to judge and hate against almost everyone who looked or may have been from Afghanistan, which is also morally wrong. After 9/11 there was more awareness and strict policy’s and security systems due to the terrorist attack. There was a study that showed civilians who may have been or was to perceive too look like they had an East Indian background, was to be more questioned and have unequal treatment when going through such security such as airports or customs. Is it morally right if because terrorists do what they do, that the innocent civilians have to suffer their consequences of hate, racism and stereotypes because of their actions?
Overall Terrorism causes deaths, loss of innocent lives, damage to families, damage to our world and society and it can cause conflict such as war. These are all negative impacts that arise due to the violent act of terrorism. In conclusion, terrorism is not morally defensible. The act of taking innocent lives for the sake of proving a political point is unjustifiable. The after math of terrorist attacks that causes more conflict such as war is morally wrong. The reasoning and tactics that terrorists use are unjustifiable. Terrorism seems to be an issue that is ongoing and hard to control and fix. There are ways of controlling and stopping terrorism but it is not a short process. “To tackle the problem of terrorism (and other forms of political violence, such as insurgency), we must engage “hearts and minds.” What this means and how we might go about doing it is unclear. Yet recent and current conflicts have driven home the need to understand the moral context in which people develop and act, and how changes in this context can result in, sometimes drastic, changes in action. We would argue that, with Situational Action Theory, the “winning hearts and minds” strategy gets its scientific framework. This approach has profound, long-term implications for our ability to prevent violence and disorder in any environment at any time. Building robust, testable, comprehensive theoretical frameworks takes time” (Bouhana, 2010)