16
Apr
13

4.16.13 … splitting hairs … “terror,” “terrorism,’ “terrorist,” “acts of terror,” “acts of terrorism”…

President Obama, linguistics, political speech, doublespeak, 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, linguistics, leadership:  Yesterday, the conservative media was upset with the President because he failed to use the word “terror” or “terrorism.”  Today he “embraced ” the word “terror/terrorism.”  But  it was too late.

It is a matter of linguistics, but it is also a matter of  political language. The President  took the safe side yesterday because he had missed the mark on multiple occasions before. When we split hairs, we are doing a disservice to all those involved. Sometimes we need to look at common use. It is only the fourth definition of terror that requires that the act be “committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.” Clearly no one thinks this was not intended to bring about a “state of intense fear.”  (definition 1)  Since the President has had problems with this issue, understnding that there are legal and political definitions that are applicable, I think maybe his inner circle should have come to terms with this before he opened his mouth yesterday.  The country needed him to issue words of comfort and strength and instead he was caught in the usual political speech/doublespeak  conundrum.  He lost an opportunity to lead.

Common use –

Definition of TERROR

1: a state of intense fear

2a : one that inspires fear : scourge

b : a frightening aspect

c : a cause of anxiety : worry

d : an appalling person or thing; especially : brat

3: reign of terror

4: violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands

via Terror – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Today …

“This was a heinous and cowardly act, and given what we know about what took place, the F.B.I. is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” Mr. Obama said in a brief appearance at the White House. “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror.”

“What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack or why,” the president said, “whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual. That’s what we don’t yet know.”

via Obama Calls Marathon Bombings an ‘Act of Terrorism’ – NYTimes.com.

After choosing not to call the Boston Marathon bombings “terrorism” on Monday, President Obama used variations of the word “terror” four times in a public address on Tuesday. “Given what we know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” Obama said. “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”

His definition of terrorism was inaccurate, at least according legal guidelines that have been adopted by federal law enforcement. But the President’s decision to embrace the term put him on the politically safer side of a linguistic problem that has bedeviled his presidency for years.

But in an unusual move, an aide to the President spoke to the press moments after the President had concluded his remarks about the classification of the bombings.  “Any event with multiple explosive devices—as this appears to be—is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror,” the White House official said.

Nonetheless, Obama received some criticism overnight about shying away from the word in his Monday remarks. On Tuesday, the clear emphasis of the term seemed designed to head off another Benghazi-like controversy. “The American people refuse to be terrorized,” Obama said.

via President Obama Embraces The Word “Terrorism” A Day After Boston Marathon Bombings | TIME.com.

Yesterday …

However, the content of his three-and-a-half-minute speech Monday—in particular his notable aversion to labeling the incident as “terror” or “terrorism”—seemed to reflect a continuing desire not to stoke fears or make premature public judgments even as he made sure to offer the public presence that he’d initially avoided during his first experiences managing terrorist attacks as president.

The most searing of the Obama White House’s previous terrorism experiences is likely the Christmas Day 2009 attempted bombing of a Delta airliner headed for Detroit. After that incident, Obama took three days to appear before cameras and talk about the episode. That delay led to sharp criticism from Republicans in Congress and led some in the public to conclude that Obama — who was vacationing in Hawaii at the time — wasn’t taking the incident seriously.

Obama and his aides were careful not to repeat that mistake Monday as he appeared in the White House briefing room just after 6 p.m., in time to be included in evening TV newscasts about the Boston explosions and the investigation.

“We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice,” the president said.

“I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable,” Obama added emphatically.

via What President Obama has learned about talking about terror – Josh Gerstein – POLITICO.com.

But in an unusual move, an aide to the President spoke to the press moments after the President had concluded his remarks about the classification of the bombings.  “Any event with multiple explosive devices—as this appears to be—is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror,” the White House official said.

Nonetheless, Obama received some criticism overnight about shying away from the word in his Monday remarks. On Tuesday, the clear emphasis of the term seemed designed to head off another Benghazi-like controversy. “The American people refuse to be terrorized,” Obama said.

via President Obama Embraces The Word “Terrorism” A Day After Boston Marathon Bombings | TIME.com.


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