Boosting terror's aura bolsters its ambitions

Charles Jacobs

21 April 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

CJ ETA terrorists 1London’s most recent terror incident spun the media and politicians alike into overdrive, labelling it an act designed ‘to silence our democracy’.

In reality the perpetrator was a troubled individual who had virtually no capacity to destroy one of the world’s oldest governments.

Pertinently, the rhetoric surrounding the recent disarmament of Basque separatist group ETA also served as a prescient reminder that the credence we decide to give to these groups is far more powerful than any weapons they possess.

For decades the aura given to ETA has enabled it to hold Basque society hostage.

ETA’s brutal methods, small but symbolic attacks — and the strong language from Spanish critics — give the group a level of political capital that far outweighs its actual ability to effect change.

As ETA disarmed, the Spanish Prime Minister unfortunately continued to give them credibility by focussing on their ongoing potential to function as a político-militar, rather than praising their decision to hand over weapons caches.

Spain’s treatment of the Basque conflict sends an important message to Europe and indeed the rest of the world — by continuing to build the prominence of terror groups through the media and aggressive political rhetoric, we become a tool of their campaigns.

Organisations such as ETA and the Islamic State thrive on mythological perpetuations of their capabilities that far supersede their actual capacity.

Such myths enabled ETA to assert decades of pseudo control over Basque society and also convinced Brits that a confused individual posed a genuine threat to their democracy.

If we continue to reinforce these attitudes around the globe, we bolster the ambitions of the very terror groups we strive to quell.

It is essential to not perpetuate the fear terrorism thrives on, and to ensure that we do not hold our own society hostage by giving extremists a reputation they do not deserve.

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