Germanwings, Terrorism and God

The crashing of a commercial jet into a mountain apparently by a pilot apparently suffering from depression is, to all but the most depraved, a tragedy. (My thoughts and sympathies go to the families of the victims, and hope they can find peace in the aftermath of their loss.)

Let’s break that down. The fear experienced by the passengers, doomed over the course of eight minutes to believe their fate, is well-described by the word “terror.” For the pilot, who had more than an inkling of what was happening and when, “terror” would be an understatement. But this is not “terrorism” in the sense we use it today. A Patheos piece goes into this in more detail, but it is worth stating plainly: the pain of a person in dire mental distress, and their fear of staying alive one moment longer, and even their fear of dying as the pilot in this case committed self- and mass-murder, is in no way related to terrorism. (Delusionally believing he’d make a mark in history, but not terrrorism.)

Terrorism is the concept of generating fear in others to attain power. To use fear to control the actions (or words) of others. And terrorists are not above using the events of others, or those of random events in nature, to their advantage. Rabbis have used tragedy like the terror attack in Ma’alot in 1974 to prove the results of irreligiousity (in this example, fairly “centrist” Orthodox Jewish leaders). Christians have often called out events as “signs” that people weren’t towing the line they’d drawn: Hurricane Sandy, local tornadoesheck, ANY wind! . Makes me wonder why the Westies are singled out for their acts of idiocy. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists… everyone’s got the “believe or god will smite you” groove going.

So… every religion has adherents, not always at the extremes, who are terrorists: scaring people into doing what they want or be smote by god in a random meteorological or criminal event.

Somewhere, there’s a crazed religious ‘enthusiast’ counting the number of victims and going through a dog-eared text of their religious persuasion to “prove” that they died because heathens (or co-religionists — it works either way) did something wrong. And, as terrorists wont, using the fear of further violence or mayhem if the world around them doesn’t bend to their delusional ways.