Not Cowards

After 9/11, libertarian-in-name-only Bill Maher dug the grave for his ABC show Politically Incorrect by suggesting that the WTC terrorists were not cowards for their actions. I was glad at the time that I did not have my own TV show, for I would have lost it by saying the exact same thing.

Today, Eugene Volokh makes the point:

The obvious point, of course, is that cowardice usually consists of fear of death or injury; the suicide bombers pretty clearly embrace their own deaths. (I set aside suicide bombers who are forced or tricked into being suicide bombers, for whom the analysis may be different.) Now it's true that attacking defenseless people is often seen as cowardice, but that's precisely because most attacks on defenseless people — as opposed to attacks on well-armed people — pose little immediate risk of death or injury for the attacker. Attacking defenseless people with a suicide bomb doesn't share that characteristic. Again, it's evil, but not cowardly.

Some have suggested that the cowardice here is in an unwillingness to confront punishment for their own crimes, much like some might fault a person who commits suicide rather than face a just trial as taking "the coward's way out." But I doubt that the typical suicide bomber is committing suicide to avoid the shame and humiliation of a trial. The crime is just easier to commit if he's willing to die...

To call the terrorists* "cowards" may make us feel better or sleep easier at night, but it takes away from our understanding of the enemy. These people hold the ultimate strategic weapon - they are willing to endure certain death to ensure the death of another. And there is a very small population of people on this planet who will face certain death voluntarily, and very few things they would do it for. Such behavior is the antithesis of cowardice.

As Eugene spells out in his post, if an American soldier undertook a suicide mission against a true enemy, it certainly would not be considered an act of cowardice. The fact that the bombers see us (infidels) as enemies, however wrongly and unjustly, makes it an apt analogy.

To call these suicide bombers cowards is to deny that they hold such powerful weapons. And to deny that power is to understimate the enemy, thus making the force of terror and fundamentalism harder to fight.

*(It is more fair to call the heads of terrorists organizations, those who persuade and enlist others to die for the cause, the true cowards.)

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A friend of mine wrote an

A friend of mine wrote an essay making this same point a few weeks after September 11. He spread it around the school, and by the end of the day he had loads of people shouting at him.

I would agree that they're not cowards.

This is not a difficult

This is not a difficult concept. The Japanese kamikazis were not labeled as cowards, muslim suicide bombers are. For the same reason that suicide itself is often called the cowards solution, suicide bombing civilians is the option for cowards that lack the will to embrace guerilla tactics.

Nah they aren't cowards they

Nah they aren't cowards they are f***ing evil. Not misguided nor dillusional...evil. The sooner we stop making excuses for them and calling them what they are the better. We need to kill them before they kill us.

"No bastard ever won a war

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

George S. Patton

Whether they're cowards or not, the less of them the better.

Moreover, Bill Maher really

Moreover, Bill Maher really got the boot because he said what he did to shock and irritate others and to create controversy.

No real information was conveyed by contradicting the labeling of the terrorists as cowards.

Being a public contrarian or playing the "one angry man" game is not easy. It requires a fine sensibility towards what the public will accept.

If your are on TV you have to be especially clever because media execs and their sponsors will jettison you the SECOND that controversy threatens their bottom line.

Someone more well-liked, with better ratings or using another medium could have said the exact thing he did and would have kept their job.

Imagine Jon Stewart saying it, for instance.

Well, I think most people

Well, I think most people who label them cowards for the same reasons they would label someone who, experiencing problems, lashes out at a child rather than those responsible.

The terrorists chose to kill innocent clerical workers, when they could've actually had the balls to confront the real cause of their problems (whatever those are), a challenge far more difficult than simple murder.

So yes, I would apply the term "coward" to someone who picks the easy way out.

Then there are the people

Then there are the people who are so terrified of unlikely deaths that they give up all their freedom....

They're not cowards, but

They're not cowards, but they're not brave either. They are simply misguided fools.

Not cowards, just

Not cowards, just delusional. Actually selfish since they are using the deaths of others to buy their way into paradise and 72 virgins. Certainly not brave. If they believed there was no afterlife or they were going to hell then it would be brave.

Can't one be delusional and

Can't one be delusional and evil? I don't recall those being antonyms. Their delusion however is an Islamic induced delusion. That it is an evil delusion speaks poorly of Islam.