Now that is a question worth answering! It is also a question that could get me into a great deal of trouble, depending on the angle I take.
What is terrorism?
Then again, I have never been afraid of getting into trouble!
I cannot say for sure, and I know they would have used different terminology, but I feel confident that Australia's Aborigines would have considered the invading English as terrorists. I also suspect the Native Americans would have considered the English, French and Spanish terrorists.
You'd think that just about every invasion before and after these was viewed by the indigenous people as terrorism and, in a sense, it was. I imagine the Muslim residents of the Middle East considered the invasion of the English during The Crusades an act of terrorism. For the record, I agree with them; albeit state-sponsored terrorism.
US President George Washington was the very definition of a terrorist. He, with others, built an underground insurgent army to push out the ‘legitimate’ British government. Not only should this confront Americans, but it might make them reconsider the merits of terrorism.
I am confident that the US intervention into a number of South American countries - including Cuba, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela - was considered by many as terrorism. The US's intervention in countries, and assignation of political leaders around the globe since World War II, may be considered terrorism. This occurred with impunity.
In the 1930s through to the 1990s, the Irish Republican Army gave terrorism a whole new face. During the '70s and '80s we saw the Red Brigade, Barda-Mienhoff and various other terrorist groups bring down hundreds of planes. There were more acts of terrorism during this period than any other time in history. Yes, it was worse than today!
We also saw the spectacle at the 1972 Olympics Games in Munich, Germany, with the Germans sending police into the Olympic Village to kill suspected Palestinian terrorists with no reference to a trial and little consideration of the effect this might have on athletes or the example it might set for future reactionaries.
The Russians have gone, at least in the world's eyes, from being a terrorist when invading Afghanistan in the 1980s to regular victims of terrorism over more recent years. That said, we still seem to have little concern for our one-time Cold War foes.
Then we come to 9/11, which the US government would like us to think was the greatest single act of terrorism in history, despite the fact that the Turks killed 1 million Armenians after World War I, Pol Pot killed 3 million Cambodians in the 1970s, and Hitler killed 6 million Jews in World War II. It is also interesting to note that the US Government has killed as many innocent people (collatoral damage) every month since that event.
What happened in the US on 9/11 was bad, but it was one of many such events.
All of these acts and events were bad.
They all involved violence, injury, death, fear, pain and misery. All of these acts and events have had a devastating and lasting effect on our world. Some people will never recover from them.
They were all acts of terrorism. They were all inexcusable, but at the same time, understandable. They all had precipitants. Those precipitants were not well understood at the time, often prolonging the pain. Nothing in this life happens without a reason. Understanding that reason is often the key to preventing this type of pain.
The current spate of terrorism also has a reason. Unfortunately, I am not qualified or well-informed enough to define precisely what the reasons for the current spate of terrorism are – although I would have no fear in suggesting that poverty, alienation, dispossession and helplessness are every bit as important as religious ideology.
But there is one thing I am absolutely certain of. Whatever terrorism was in the past, in 2017 it is a major source of revenue for eyeball-hungry media outlets and cannon fodder for media-hungry, vote-chasing politicians.
All channels of media are sucking the life out of terrorism, rehashing each event over and over and over. They are taking every opportunity to use the misery of others to sell advertising and we as a community are sick enough to keep listening and watching.
Every politician of every colour from every country is making as much as they can of terrorism, getting tougher and tougher, calling more and more people cowards and criminals. They take every possible opportunity to make their constituents as frightened as they can, while making themselves appear to be the only ones that can truly help them. Oh, while also telling them to stay calm.
Everyone loves an enemy, no one more than a politician. It gives them someone to blame.
All of this time we are all ignoring Einstein, who said in part "Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is the definition of stupidity".
Calling someone, even your enemy, a criminal and coward has never changed their behaviour.