The League of Extraordinary Warmongerers

First we have the attack on the Turkish flotilla bringing aid to Gaza.

Then we see humanitarians murdered in Oaxaca while delivering aid.

And now, the US Supreme Court is on board to curb humanitarianism and peaceful resistance, with its ruling in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project. Any “material contribution” or “service” extended by American citizens to “terrorist groups” designated by the State Department is a violation of the PATRIOT Act and punishable by imprisonment — even if the contributions and services advocate peaceful means to accessing international legal remedies.

In the NYT article, Chief Justice Roberts claims First Amendment protections are unencumbered by criminalizing support for peaceful conflict resolution between nation-states and terrorist groups:

“Plaintiffs may say anything they wish on any topic,” he wrote. “They may speak and write freely about” the Kurdish and Tamil groups, “the governments of Turkey and Sri Lanka, human rights and international law.” Indeed, the chief justice added, the plaintiffs are free to become members of the two groups.

What they cannot do is make a contribution to a foreign terrorist organization, even if that contribution takes the form of speech. “Such support,” he wrote, “frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends,” “helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups” and strains “the United States’ relationships with its allies.”

In our current progressive climate, moral citizens already learn that the best way to support their causes is political activity through passive means: wearing t-shirts or ribbons, casting ballots, amassing in groups in a fixed place during a fixed time, and sending money to campaigns. However, the media’s enamored reporting about movements like the Tea Party shows us that people across the political spectrum are anxious for more civic engagement. Civic engagement includes reaching out and extending material contributions and services to important causes beyond the rote actions of political institutions.

In an effort to make a terror-ridden world less terrifying, people now sit in the cross-hairs of criminal prosecution. Policy-wise, this Supreme Court ruling has no logical sense in it. It treats people behind terrorist acts as beings incapable of reason and morality who are uninterested in peaceful resolutions by cutting off any education on legal ways to attain their goals. The movie The Dark Knight famously remarked that “some people want to watch the world burn.” But with rulings like these and attacks on peacemakers, we have to wonder which people want the world to burn, and the depth of their interest in it.

The Court’s ruling cements the “us vs. them” War on Terror binary shaped during the presidency of George W. Bush: if you are not with the government, you are against it. Voltaire was right when he said, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” The consequences of keeping the alleged enemy away from peaceable means of resolving conflicts include the enabling of military spending, more long-distance war campaigns and more opportunities for war profiteering. The interests of national security, as Breyer noted in his dissent and during the oral argument, are bulldozing the democratic civil liberties these wars and conflicts are allegedly defending.

The line between a conscientious dissenter and a terrorist is becoming blurrier, and citizens of all nations are treading a fine line between acting under a moral imperative and obeying the law. What is the use of having freedoms one cannot exercise?

Cross-posted at Problem Chylde.

5 Responses to “The League of Extraordinary Warmongerers”

  1. Filips van Marnix says:

    “It treats people behind terrorist acts as beings incapable of reason and morality”

    How unreasonable! Obviously, terrorists are very reasonable and moral people, unlike Bush and Netanyahu.

  2. Wiseman says:

    I believe that most terrorists, or “people behind terrorist acts”, are not incapable of reasoning, but they are so driven by a radical ideology that they cannot be reasoned with on certain issues. The unfortunate reality is that these people are so strong in their convictions that they would rather die for a cause than try a more reasonable approach. Their approach is “concede to our demands or there will be terror”. As long as they have this mentality, they cannot be reasoned with. So the issue is: should their demands be met in hopes that they will pack it in afterwards, or do we sit down the leaders of these groups (granted that they would want to meet) and try talking sense to them? Maybe neither of those plans will work. The solution that you favour very much depends on how acts of terror have effected or can effect you personally.

  3. Filips van Marnix says:

    “So the issue is: should their demands be met in hopes that they will pack it in afterwards, or do we sit down the leaders of these groups (granted that they would want to meet) and try talking sense to them?”

    False dilemma, there is a third option: crushing them. One does not negotiate with terrorists and try to “talk sense” into them. Perhaps you would enjoy a cup of tea with Osama bin Laden, the murderer of 3000 Americans, but I would not.

  4. The thing you’re not recognizing, Filips, is all terrorists are not created equal. If governments insist on waging wars with civilians — even violent ones — there should be international fora for them to air their grievances. And, for some terrorist groups, if they had access to an impartial body to present their case, it’d help fix the structural injustices that creates insurgencies.

  5. opit says:

    Wow ! You must have hit a nerve. That is a wonderful collection of trolls vilifying any who remember the day when there was such a thing as freedom. Freedom one cannot exercise is quite tongue in cheek and an oxymoron.
    Since the equally snide PATRIOT Act was passed, I’ve noticed a few actions which make sure lawmakers breaking their oaths of office to support the Constitution are not punished for unlawful acts which are illegal to conform to international treaty and are also domestic law in support of such.
    American Service Members Protection Act 2002 – see Wikipedia
    ( Agreement NOT to hand Americans over to the International Tribunal )
    Bilateral Immunity Agreements
    There was in fact a time when a nation noted that the terrorism of arrest,torture,indefinite imprisonment and execution was more imminent than some specious foreign threat. Generally. foreigners are ‘over there’ and the government is ‘over here’.
    I have noted we are less free than the serfs of England kept in an open air slave state after the Great Charter of 1215 at least guaranteed that a show of trial had to made. Even a Kangaroo Court is too much trouble these days, though military commissions – in peacetime, despite the bullshit of War Against Terror – come close.
    Habeas Corpus: From England to Empire
    Military Commissions Act 2006 -ACLU
    Links are chosen from the collection at
    Suggestions for addition are welcome


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