The Library Basement
Reading under ground

The confederacy and terrorists

Roland S. Martin asks, "Were Confederate soldiers terrorists?" He answers in the affirmative. The argument put forward is fairly basic:

  • Members of al Qaeda are terrorists
  • Confederates have some things in common with al Qaeda
  • Therefore, Confederates were terrorists

It's a truly bizarre argument, and it fails on the most basic of criteria: the definition of terrorism. For Martin, terrorism is a matter of association - if you fight for the "wrong" ideology, you are a terrorist. However, I find these two points to be much better criteria for terrorists:

  1. Non-state actors
  2. Use violence against non-military targets for political purposes

Confederate soldiers were 1) serving in an army commissioned by their state, and 2) using violence against military targets for strategic purposes. They were not terrorists in any meaningful sense. Trying to paint them as terrorists because of some similarities with genuine terrorists is a disingenuous smear.

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