Monday, September 19, 2016

Semantics of the word "terrorism"



The frightening Chelsea bombing on Saturday night has prompted an interesting metalinguistic linguistic foray among our Mayor, Governor, and....likely most of us. Was it "terrorism"?

Saturday night Mayor DeBlasio stated 
“Here is what we know: It was intentional, it was a violent act, it was certainly a criminal act, it was a bombing — that’s what we know."...“To understand there were any specific motivations, political motivations, any connection to an organization — that’s what we don’t know.”

By the next day (Sunday) Governor Cuomo stated: 
“The mayor and I are in total agreement on the facts and circumstances and the observations. I think it becomes a question of semantics, if anything,” Cuomo said. “Yes, it was an intentional act. It was a violent act. It was a criminal act. And it was an act that frightened, hurt and scared many, many people. And generically, you call that terrorism.”  

And, this morning I heard the Governor confidently state - it was “terrorism” – a textbook definition.   A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism.”


So, do we simply chalk it up to the overflow from swimming in Trump’s linguistic soup for too many months, or is there something more consequential going on here?