WaPo asks, 'Is This Woman a Terrorist?'

Leo Rennert
The Washington Post Style section of May 9 features a lengthy piece about Assata Shakur, a Black Panther Party radical who murdered a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, escaped from a state prison and ended up as a fugitive in Cuba where Fidel Castro has given her asylum.

The news peg for Krissah Thompson, the author of the article, is a recent decision by the FBI to add Shakur to its Most Wanted Terrorist list. What interests Thompson most, however, is whether Shakur can be labeled a "terrorist." Thompson finds advocates on both sides of this issue, thus suggesting that "terrorism" is in the eye of the beholder. After all, definitions of "terrorism" vary widely. So it becomes a subjective, relative matter, thoroughly politicized.

Not so. Stripped of semantic twists and turns, "terrorism" still has an unchanging core definition -- deliberate violence against civilian targets in pursuit of a political or ideological agenda. To qualify as "terrorism," the "T" word must meet all three criteria.

The killing of the state trooper who had stopped Shakur's car on a highway definitely was an act of deliberate violence. She also murdered the trooper in pursuit of her political and ideological agenda. But the trooper was NOT a civilian. Thus, Shakur was a radical, cold-blooded, revolutionary killer -- but not a terrorist.

The headline of Thompson's article reads: "Is This Women a Terrorist?" Which given the Post's avoidance of the term in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is more than a bit ironic.

Thompson, in an apparent bow to political correctness, takes no sides as to whether Shakur is a terrorist. But what about the legions of times when for-real Palestinian terrorists deliberately set out to kill Israeli civilians in pursuit of their political agenda, and the Post calls them "militants," "radicals," "extremists," but NOT terrorists? In those cases, there's no need for a question mark after the "T" word.

Quite a bit of chutzpah by the Post to raise the definition of terrorism when the paper is a serial offender in absenting itself of its accurate use.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

The Washington Post Style section of May 9 features a lengthy piece about Assata Shakur, a Black Panther Party radical who murdered a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, escaped from a state prison and ended up as a fugitive in Cuba where Fidel Castro has given her asylum.

The news peg for Krissah Thompson, the author of the article, is a recent decision by the FBI to add Shakur to its Most Wanted Terrorist list. What interests Thompson most, however, is whether Shakur can be labeled a "terrorist." Thompson finds advocates on both sides of this issue, thus suggesting that "terrorism" is in the eye of the beholder. After all, definitions of "terrorism" vary widely. So it becomes a subjective, relative matter, thoroughly politicized.

Not so. Stripped of semantic twists and turns, "terrorism" still has an unchanging core definition -- deliberate violence against civilian targets in pursuit of a political or ideological agenda. To qualify as "terrorism," the "T" word must meet all three criteria.

The killing of the state trooper who had stopped Shakur's car on a highway definitely was an act of deliberate violence. She also murdered the trooper in pursuit of her political and ideological agenda. But the trooper was NOT a civilian. Thus, Shakur was a radical, cold-blooded, revolutionary killer -- but not a terrorist.

The headline of Thompson's article reads: "Is This Women a Terrorist?" Which given the Post's avoidance of the term in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is more than a bit ironic.

Thompson, in an apparent bow to political correctness, takes no sides as to whether Shakur is a terrorist. But what about the legions of times when for-real Palestinian terrorists deliberately set out to kill Israeli civilians in pursuit of their political agenda, and the Post calls them "militants," "radicals," "extremists," but NOT terrorists? In those cases, there's no need for a question mark after the "T" word.

Quite a bit of chutzpah by the Post to raise the definition of terrorism when the paper is a serial offender in absenting itself of its accurate use.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers