Caroline Paul shouldn’t expect much sympathy for her arsonist sibling. [Commentary, May 27, “My Brother’s Not A Terrorist”]. There are subtle differences between domestic and international terrorism, but they both meet a sensible definition of the word.
Al-Qaida knocks down American buildings because it doesn’t like the idea of America, and its goal is to scare us into changing our international habits and priorities. Jonathan Paul burned down a slaughterhouse building because he didn’t like the idea of slaughterhouses. He announced his handiwork under the name of the Animal Liberation Front, whose goal is to scare the meat and medical research industries into changing their domestic habits and priorities.
Clearly, some Americans agree with the goals of animal-rights and environmental militants, just as some (incredibly) still agree with al-Qaida’s mission. But using arson and other violence to scare people into granting your political objectives is certainly terrorism. If not, we all need new dictionaries.