Terrorism has long been understood to be the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political, religious, or ideological goals. It typically involves acts such as bombings, fires, and other mass killings. When the World Trade Center was hit in 2001, we were all counseled not to let fear overcome us. We were told to go about our lives as normal. If we let them change us through fear, they have won. Though some acts of terror are simply senseless acts of violence intended to kill, terrorism in general hopes to create fear in a society to be more easily persuaded towards an ideology.
Domestic abuse was long regarded similarly as a primarily violent and physically damaging offense. In recent years, the term “verbal abuse” (aka “emotional abuse”) has become understood to be often much more harmful than physical abuse. It’s harder to perceive and more difficult to combat but it proves to be incredibly damaging as it slowly destroys the spirit of its victim and creates a subdued person who will bend to the oppressor’s will without conflict. It can be argued that the more damaging element in a physically abusive relationship is generally the verbal abuse. Those that are physically abused without the verbal/emotional element will fight or flee more quickly than those who are merely struck ‘out of the blue’.
Likewise, terrorism through means of force alone often only manages to unite victims to stand against the terrorism and thus fails to achieve its ideological purpose. However, when verbal abuse is applied at a societal level to accomplish an ideological goal, it is much less perceptible and often much more effective. This verbal terrorism is currently in full swing on many fronts. It’s often floated under the guise of political correctness. Somebody with an opinion that’s often the minority gets real loud and tries to make others with a differing opinion feel guilty for having it until we accept the outlying opinion as dominant. Whether it’s ‘legitimate’ articles, or deceivingly dominant opinions, people are made to feel like they are horrible awful people if they do not agree with this differing opinion. As each new person gives in and accepts the dissenting opinion as the oppressive majority, it seems to spread even more. Quickly thousands and even millions seem to be strongly in support of this new opinion while in fact most are just afraid to stand against or even admit their true opinion. It effectively eliminates the free sharing and collaboration of ideas. It becomes similar to the emperor’s new clothes. Everybody is afraid to be the ignorant person that can’t see the clothes when, in fact, nobody can.
I hesitate to use any real examples because I don’t want this to look like or be a one sided thing. Here’s a ridiculous example that hopefully demonstrates the point:
Josh has decided that raspberry jam is not actually good for you (just an example, people). He has some scientific proof to back up certain points of his new found belief. He starts by telling his family and friends how he feels about it. Later he mocks them when he catches them making a PB&J with raspberry jam. When he sees Julie mention on a Facebook group that she is selling raspberry jam made from her own garden, he quickly jumps in with his comments telling her why she is wrong to be making, sharing, or eating raspberry jam. He makes an emotional argument against giving such a poison to your own children. When others find what seem to be blatant flaws in his ideology and refute his points, he belittles them and condemns them for not caring about their children. While his argument isn’t completely convincing, a few others are now scared to share their feelings about it. After a couple of posts and conversations like this one, others now side with Josh and comment that if parents love their children, they will not give them raspberry jam. Although most DON’T agree with Josh’s view of raspberry jam, nobody in the group dares post about their raspberry jam. They now keep their views and use of raspberry jam quiet in all social circles. Thus, in a group of 10,000 people, 9,995 people have allowed the views of 5 outspoken people to overpower the views of their majority.
Verbal terrorism is not unique to any specific ideology, religion, or political party. It’s often argued with valid sources and more often than not there is just enough truth mixed in to make the truth difficult to distinguish. It might even be true. You might even believe it with every fiber of your being. Regardless of the validity of any of the sources used, one thing is consistent: the victim is denigrated if they do not agree. At that point, regardless of what the ideology is or how true or valid it seems to be, it has become verbal terrorism. Most people would never think of bombing a building to get their point across but so many are engaged in bombing the spirit of their neighbor. So many are falling prey to this and our society is drastically changing because of it.
On September 11, 2001, when the hijackers took United Airlines Flight 93, they were extremely outnumbered and only lightly armed. Yet, through fear, they controlled the entire aircraft. When the passengers realized the greater danger posed by their aircraft, they also realized that their numbers could overpower those who threatened them. Whether you have been a verbal terrorist on some level in the past or are currently a victim, the majority of society has the power to overcome this threat. If you see somebody becoming a victim, stick up for them, whether you agree with them or not. If you point out to others what you see happening, you’ll be less likely to stand alone. I believe that we as a people are better than this threat and if we stand together against it, we can defeat it.
DISCLAIMER: I HARBOR NO ILL WILL TOWARDS RASPBERRIES OR THEIR TASTY PRESERVES OR THOSE WHO CONSUME DELECTABLE MORSELS SLATHERED WITH THEIR FRUITY GOODNESS.