The Language of Fear

Part I

When horrendous acts occur in your own country, it is committed by terrorists. If it happens far, far away, and doesn’t really affect you, and you and your organization have been influenced or pressured by certain people, then it is the work of ‘militants’.

This isn’t coincidental — it is the language of fear and coercion — the language of terror.

The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) defines a ‘militant’ as follows:

1. A person engaged in war or conflict; a combatant. Chiefly in extended uses or in metaphorical contexts; or

2. A person who strongly espouses a cause, esp. one who is aggressively active in pursuing a political or social cause. In later use also: spec. a member of an ideologically or politically motivated faction or force.

Neither of these give any indication of acts of terrorism.

And yet …

The BBC reported on July 2nd 2015 that: “Nearly 150 people are reported to have been killed by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in attacks in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state.” If the IRA had killed 150 people in London or in Glasgow, would they have been reported as militants or as terrorists?

The same day, the BBC reported that “Islamic State militants ‘destroy Palmyra statues’”. Are these nice people who ‘strongly espouse a cause’ or are they terrorists?

On April 5th, 2015, CNN reported on a Kenyan massacre by “Al-Shabaab militants”. If these poor students had been enrolled at Idaho State University and had been killed by Aryan Brotherhood maniacs, would they have been labeled militants or terrorists?

Fox News, not known for its lenient attitudes on such subjects, reported on June 5th, 2015 that “Eight of 10 Pakistan militants purportedly jailed for shooting teen activist Malala Yousafzai already free”.

Deutsche Welle on Aug 2nd this year reported: Russia ‘kills eight Islamic State militants‘ close to Chechnya.

The Australian Broadcasting Company reported that an “Ex-Australian soldier killed fighting IS militants”.

And so it goes, around the world. The language of fear wins over the language of expediency. The list is endless, no one seems to be immune. No-one seems to be willing to call a spade, a spade. These are all acts of terror, carried out by terrorists. This is institutionalized terror, carried out second hand by all the terrorists in the world. By use of unspoken threats and a world-wide atmosphere of fear, terrorists seem to have disappeared from this world. They only exist when it happens to you!

Part II

Why are the hundreds of thousands of poor souls trying to escape the misery they call home, and find a better life on the shores of Europe, called migrants? Migrants move back and forth, as migrant workers do, when picking crops in various locations.

The OED defines a migrant as:

A person who moves temporarily or seasonally from place to place; a person on a journey.

Yet … a refugee is:

A person who has been forced to leave his or her home and seek refuge elsewhere, esp. in a foreign country, from war, religious persecution, political troubles, the effects of a natural disaster, etc.; a displaced person.

Refugees move one way, escaping misery, war and famine, in the hope of finding a better life somewhere. Are these tens, and hundreds of thousands of people trying to escape the horrors of war and terror migrants? NO! They are refugees, and deserve to be treated as such.

Again — this is the language of fear. The fear of using words like refugee, which is empathic — conjuring up feelings of shame and a desire to help. Migrants are there to be ignored — workers who will (in theory) return to their homes when the crops have been picked.

In the words of the late, great President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “All we have to fear is fear itself“.

About the Author
Richard Steinitz is the published author of THREE novels - The Voyage of the Stingray, Murder Over the Border, and Kaplan's Quest, as well as a free-lance provider of of ​English language ​services: ​​Hebrew-to-English translation, ​proofreading, copy-editing, content-writing, basic graphics and image manipulation, ​and more. He worked for an international educational publisher for almost 20 years as their local representative, until his retirement at the end of 2015. Born in New York City, Richard came to Israel on a visit in July 1967, and returned a year later to see what life here is like. He's still here. Richard is married to Naomi, father of Yael and Oren, and grandfather of two.