L. Neil Smith's

Number 13, September 1, 1996

Where's the Terror?

By Victor Milan

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         "With two possible incidents of terrorism in the US over the last two weeks," the straight media blare, "Republicans and Democrats are coming together to pass new laws...."
         New laws. That'll stop the terrorists. There's this magic number of laws, see -- somewhere in the millions -- and once it's reached, nothing bad will ever happen again. Our leaders are just sure these new ones will put us over the top.
         Stop the terrorists? What terrorists?
         A 747 blew up in midair. As of 7/30 the government will still not say for sure it wasn't a mechanical failure, although federal agents have apparently been lusting to call it a bomb since it was first reported. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.
         Somebody real swift left a bomb in an Atlanta park filled with cameras. The FBI admits to having no still shots or footage of the bomb's placement. Whether even Freeh's Big Idiot is that maladroit, or just playing it cagey, can only be conjectured.
         No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.
         A federal center in Oklahoma City was bombed. Let's all say it together: no one has claimed responsibility for the blast.
         Terrorism is advertising. They don't call it "propaganda by deed" for nothing. When real terrorists make a call it goes something like: "Hi. We're the IRA-Provos. We just blew up Harrod's again. Gerry Adams didn't have a thing to do with it. Have a lovely day," or, "Bueno. We're ETA-Milis. We just blew up some guy who used to cook for the Guardia Civil to show we're fighting for the people."
         Not: "There's a bomb in the park. You have thirty minutes."
         A real act of terror is meant to "send a message." That's right -- it's the politics of meaning. Just like the flurry of legislation we're about to be deluged with.
         Three acts of "terror." Zero messages sent.
         Where's the terrorism?
         Maybe the OKC perpetrators got caught before they could drop a dime and speak their minds. Maybe. And maybe the bomb was set by angry nuts. Hundreds of bombs are set in the US each year, almost all by loonies or regular criminals. Humans love big bangs. Bombs naturally attract a certain class of goblin.
         Atlanta has the hallmarks of a nut crime. Serial killers love to see their handiwork on TV, and this was certainly an attempted mass murder, even though only one person died [Sorry, but a news vulture rushing to the carnage is not a "victim." If he'd popped an A watching women's gymnastics last night, would Shannon Miller be getting arraigned for murder today?]. What better way to get your power fix than setting off a bomb spang at the epicenter of 90% of the world's news cameras? The phone warning came from someone who wanted to show he was smarter than the authorities -- a sociopath -- or who wanted to be caught -- a psychopath. It was not "propaganda by deed."
         [Literally as this is being written, authorities are casting suspicion on the very individual who spotted the bomb, a private security guard. It remains unclear whether this is merely revenge by law-enforcement officials, who despite their globally-televised orgy of self-congratulation had nothing to do with saving those people who were saved. If he did it, it looks like a classic example of the Hero Syndrome, the firefighter-who-burns-an-orphanage-so-he-can-save-the-kids trip. That fits the "random nut" model, yes?]
          Of course, there was a domestic campaign of terror-bombings, conducted by an individual with the overt intention of pushing his political agenda: the Unabomber. But he was an avowed left-wing environmentalist, not a right-wing militia member, so he couldn't be a terrorist. Eco-socialists are the good guys. He's a serial killer, instead, and his politics aren't mentioned by the polite.
         Indeed, he probably is just a serial killer. There's a definitional problem here. Are nuts with political/religious axes to grind "terrorists" in a meaningful sense? If the OKC bombers wanted to get back for the Waco massacre of Seventh Day Adventists -- which is altogether conjectural -- does that make them terrorists? I doubt it. Real terrorists work at it. Aside from the occasional violent dilettantes, like the SLA or Germany's Red Army Fraction, they're professionals. Al-Fatah, IRA-Provisionals, ETA-Militar: they get paid to do this stuff, usually from taxes they extort at gunpoint from the people they ostensibly represent. Just like a government.
         Leave aside lingering questions of whether a Navy SEAL from JTF-6 -- the shadowy military unit which advised the ATF death-squad that first attacked Mt. Carmel -- just might've helped the OKC bombers make their surprise package, the way an FBI informant was videotaped teaching the World Trade Centers bombers to make ANFO. What terrorist, domestic or foreign, threatens you as immediately as your own government? What terrorist harms you, every day, as greatly as your own government?
         Nobody. Your government extorts money from you through flat-out threats. It sells you into future slavery to buy votes with giveaway "social programs." It tells you what you cannot put in your body, or what you must, on pain of prison or murderous midnight visitation. It's trying to deny you the means to defend yourselves and your loved ones, while denying that it's obliged to protect you. It's working overtime to suppress your freedom of expression, and destroy the Internet, the greatest means of disseminating information in history. It wants, instead, to turn the Net into real-time surveillance of you, 24-hours a day, through your own consumer electronics.
         Here's the terror.
         You think it's crackpot to call the US government terrorist? Try not ponying up. Or move to the countryside to follow an unpopular lifestyle. Randy Weaver's family and the Branch Davidians did.
         And now, having robbed us of more freedoms in the last three and a half years than in any similar stretch of our nation's history, the ghouls are gathering in Washington to defile Liberty's corpse. No matter what really happened to TWA 800 or at Centennial Park, our bipartisan necrophiliacs will use them as the pretext for having their way with whatever rights they've accidentally left us.
         You want to see terrorists? Screw CNN. Watch C-SPAN.

Prometheus Award-winner Victor Milan is the author of over 70 novels, including the just-released CLD from AvoNova and War In Tethyr from TSR.

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