Recent events have me wondering about my definition of terrorism.
I’m not talking about the bombing that took place in Manchester. That one’s obvious. And terrible. But the best reporting I saw on the issue came from WIRED, where they essentially said, “stop talking about it on social media.”
This makes a lot of sense. Terrorist organizations get surges in recruitment when they’re seen to be doing things. The disaffected, the ones likely to turn to terrorism are often in that situation because they feel powerless, so when they see that an action any group does has power?even if it’s just the power to make you sit up and notice, that encourages them. And it’s hard, and we want to show our support for the families in Manchester that most of us will never see or know, but keep in mind that when we do, we’re also showing the terrorists that they have the power to affect us. No matter how impotent they are on the larger scale of things (and let’s be honest how much has your life changed because of terrorism? Are you more or less likely to change your religion now? If you have friends of another race or culture, do you look at them with more suspicion now than you used to? Of course not.) our public response on social media gives them potency.
No, I’m talking about the recent “WannaCry” hack that hit hundreds, if not thousands of computers, and encrypted people’s data to hold it for ransom. For those who haven’t been following my “Borscht” series about terrorism, I use it to examine exactly what it terrorism and what should be done about it. Defining terrorism is difficult to begin with, but I tend to feel it comes down to three criteria. Is the attack primarily against civilians, is there evidence of it being a planned attack and not a spur of the moment burst of violence, and is the goal of the attack to change society’s laws or behaviors? It’s that last criteria that “WannaCry” is giving me trouble with.
There is no doubt that the hack had nothing to do with changing people’s behavior other than to provide the hackers with money. But that the hack hit hospitals and put the lives of hundreds of people at risk makes me wonder if my definition needs some adjustment, because that kind of activity deserves to be called terrorism, in my mind. Perhaps it depends on the number of people affected by a single act. And then the question becomes, how does that change our response? I haven’t the answers to these questions yet, but I’m working on them.
In the meantime, this issue, see how the Voice Magazine has had an effect right across nations, in our feature article All the Music Be Happenin’ Now. Then we have a look at places students can find inspiration, and the considerations that affect many of our fellow AU students as they take up their studies part way through their career and lives in Adventures in Mid-Life Studies.
Of course, we also have our news, reviews, interviews, advice, AU events, and other articles to keep you busy this weekend, we wouldn’t forget that. Enjoy the read!