“One man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot.” This statement has resonance worldwide but is it true? Many examples exist in today’s world that support this statement at face value, but an in-depth look at this statement will prove otherwise and will show us that true patriots are in no way anyone’s terrorist.
Most people view a patriot as someone who is dedicated to their country. A patriot fights for the good of the people and the nation. This idea is partially correct. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a patriot as “one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.” A patriot is not only someone who fights for the country and its people, but is also someone who supports the authority of the country. This means that patriots do not fight in order to achieve personal gain, but they fight to further the good of the country. The patriot is not out to get power or prestige, but is aiming to help the whole of society.
The definition of a terrorist is someone who engages in terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Webster’s New International Dictionary as “a mode of governing, or of opposing government, by intimidation.” In the American Heritage Dictionary, terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.” The CIA defines it as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”
From these definitions, it is apparent that the definition of a terrorist and the definition of a patriot are contradictory. A patriot is one that supports the authorities that govern, or will govern, the state that is being fought for. The patriot targets the people responsible for mistreating the state and fights to make the state what the citizens want. Terrorists, on the other hand, do not support authority unless it is their own. Although the terrorist may espouse to be fighting for the state, those that are responsible for corrupting the state are not being targeted. The attacks are on non-combatants. This tactic is used to intimidate those in power to cave to the wishes and ideas of the terrorists. These terrorists’ ideas may or may not be in line with what the citizens want.
Although this quote looks very innocent at first glance, it beckons us toward a place where right and wrong no longer exists. It shows us the path toward a place where feelings rule and not logic. What separates a patriot from a terrorist is not the cause, nor the method, but who is targeted and whose interests are at stake. A patriot will target only offenders, clearly lay out what the citizenry wants and will fight for the citizenry. A terrorist, however, will target anyone and everyone, the cause of the fight is generally vague and complicated, and, upon close analysis, it can be seen that the terrorist will fight, not for the country or its people, but for their own cause. This separation shows that a terrorist is by no means a patriot. A terrorist is just that, a terrorist.