The Definition of Terrorism

Guy-Uriel Charles, the writer of the article, “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters” points out that the use of the term looters against victims of earth quake is contemptuous making of moral judgment. The author argues that the term looter characterizes an individual as a criminal contrary to describing or defining the individual’s act. On the other hand, Brian Whitaker in his article, “The Definition of Terrorism” outlines that the lack of an agreed definition of terrorism has led to increased difficulty in counterterrorism. Making counterterrorism laws and reaching a common goal towards these perceived animosities has been close to impossible due to the absence of a settled definition of terrorism. Brian Whitaker and Guy-Uriel Charles illustrate how the society has grown messy simply because of misappropriated terms and inconsistent perceptions which are motivated by selfish interests. The paragraphs that follow are a discussion on the claims by Brian Whitaker in “The Definition of Terrorism” and Guy-Uriel Charles’ “Stop Calling Quake Victim Looters”. The similarity in their view points and conflicts, as well as comparison in their illustrations will be the focus of this paper.

Guy-Uriel Charles’ “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looter” and Brian Whitaker’s “The Definition of Terrorism” spell out that the problems existing in the society and how they are rooted to the perspective in which every person holds.  According to Guy-Uriel, it is stereotypic to term a black victim of earthquake as a looter while labeling a white as “taking food” in the same scenario (Charles 1).  The use of the word looting against a starving, thirsty and miserable person simply because of the racial alignment is a show of misconceived perspective. Characterizing an individual as a looter is to criminalize that person without empathy or consideration of the suffering by the victim. Similarly, Brian Whitaker in “The Definition of Terrorism” illustrates how perception has led to sickening problems in the world (Whitaker 1). The law making process against terrorism has been made difficult since an agreed meaning of terrorism lacks. Essentially, these disagreements have led to incorrect statistics and impossibility in distinguishing between warfare and terrorism. The two authors therefore agree that the societal problems are rooted in misconceived beliefs, immoral judgment and irresponsible institutions.  

Brian Whitaker and Guy-Uriel Charles use accurate figures and reality checks as illustrations of their arguments. In describing the extent of the use of the term looters, Guy Uriel uses the incident of Hurricane Katrina. Accordingly, the terms “looters” was used by news media to describe starving blacks of New Orleans while white residents engaging in the same act were said to be “taking things”. In another instance, Guy-Uriel puts himself in the victim’s shoes. He contemplates a person who has been abandoned by his or her God, family, country and even International community. Out of desperation the human finds a way to survive, “you take and you run” (Charles 1). The author clearly spreads the intended message through real happenings. Brian Whitaker uses figures and societal occurrences to spread the message of the essence of having an agreed definition of terrorism. In a particular instance, Whitaker outlines Middle East’s number of terrorism attacks to be at 16 in the year 2000 (Whitaker 1). The author goes on to say that the statistics are meaningless as there is no universal definition of the term terrorism. Ideally what can be considered terrorism in another country might not be the case in another.

The two articles reveal similar storylines while characters face related tragedies. “The Definition of Terrorism” is based in a world where by the countries, governments and superior institutions make decisions which ultimately impacts on citizens and particular individuals. Whitaker points out that everyone agrees that terrorism is a politically motivated subject. To add on, it is agreeable that terrorism exists. The failure to resolve to a common definition and laws against terrorism has however led to massive loss of lives, misuse of power by some states among other challenges affecting particular persons in the society (Whitaker 1). The war is therefore propelled by the top institutions while the citizens are at the receiving end. “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters” similarly holds media houses to be the cheer leaders of the problems. News media have been cautioned to put a stop to terming suffering Haitians who are digesting the shock of loss and looking for survival as looters. Guy-Uriel exhibits news media as the propellant of the problems emanating in the argument (Charles 1). The victims are black citizens who discriminated based on their race. Evidently, the two articles are similar in terms of storyline and characters used.  

The authors of the two articles depict scornful attitude towards the subject matter of their stories. Guy-Uriel Charles is contemptuous towards racial discrimination. He connotes that naming a person as a looter based on his skin color is criminalizing the individual. He alleges that looting is associated with African-Americans and not with the whites. Guy-Uriel in detest holds that, “answering the question of looting is racialized” (Charles 1). On the other hand, Brian Whitaker disapprovingly blames the failure to counterterrorism on the lack of an agreed definition of terrorism. The inconsistencies of the laws are responsible for the increasing animosities and inhumane activities. Brian’s attitude is clearly disdainful as he claims that America’s meaning of terrorism is a reverse of the original definition of the term (Whitaker 1).

Contrary to Brian Whitaker’s educative article, Guy-Uriel Charles attempts to caution news media to stop characterizing blacks as looters. Whitaker uses the article to inform the readers on the concepts of terrorism. He discusses that terrorism exists and it is politically motivated. More so, it is purposed to destabilize the public welfare (Whitaker 1). Brian gives various examples in effort to clarify the definition of terrorism and in the end he sums up that terrorism is an aggression that is committed by persons not given approval. Guy-Uriel is indifferent in his article as he cautions news media to refrain from referring black persons as looters (Charles 1). The author argues that taking television is different from taking food hence putting matters in the right context is necessary. He concludes that institutions should wait for conviction before characterizing black people who are trying to stay alive.


In summary the articles titled “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters” by Guy Uriel Charles and “The Definition of Terrorism” by Brian Whitaker are similar in certain contexts. The authors depict contemptuous attitude towards subject matter of the articles, the storyline are related and the characters faced similar tragedies. Further Guy-Uriel and Brian use comparable illustrations in order to expound and clarify their arguments. “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters” is an article based on racial discrimination which focuses on the black people who have been slandered looters while “The Definition of Terrorism” enlightens on the lack of an agreed definition of the word terrorism. The contrast arises from their different interpretation of their subjects and with regard to their remedies.

Works Cited

Charles Guy-Uriel. Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters. CNN.2010

Whitaker Brian. The Definition of Terrorism. The Guardian. 2001


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