Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

In one of the most embarrassingly unconscious self-accusations in recent memory, Newsweek weighs in on why Joe Stack, the guy who flew his plane into an IRS building, was "not a terrorist" here. The brilliant Glen Greenwald tears Newsweek a new one here. Over at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum teases out a possible argument that Stack doesn't qualify as a terrorist: his gripes against "the system" were too crackpot to qualify as political justification for what was, obviously, a terrorist act. Your mileage may vary on that one, but for me it's Drum's argument that doesn't quite qualify as a political justification for not calling Stack a terrorist.

Meanwhile Mark P. Shea wonders aloud, "Why aren't we waterboarding Joe Stack's daughter right now?" After all, she called her dad "a hero," and she certainly could be connected to the crazy-tea-baggin' underbelly of American culture. What does she know, and when did she know it? Charles Krauthammer, what's your opinion?

[Update: It turns out Stack's daughter moved to Norway some years ago. Make that high-tax, but almost all-white, Norway.]

Taken together, all this "debate" does begin to get at a central question about those who support torture in this country, which is: are they racist, consciously or unconsciously? What does it mean when we're so reluctant to call a crazed white man who flies his plane into a building a terrorist? Why is waterboarding his white daughter so completely out of the question for these people? In other words, is support for torture really a form of racism? Newsweek editors, discuss among yourselves!