'A Man Turning Back on Himself'

This is an excellent piece on Congressman Peter King's past as a supporter of one terrorist group, turned alleged inquisitor of another:


"We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry," Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it..."

Of comparisons between the terrorism of the I.R.A. and that of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. King said: "I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel. The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States."

This is a really complex story, so please read the whole thing. I really appreciate that Scott Shane, the author, was able to point out King's contradictions, while at the same time noting that Al Qaeda and the IRA are not same thing. I think beyond Peter King, the story does a good job of taking the term "terrorist" beyond the category of political slur.  It's always worth remembering that people we now (rightly) lionize, once partook in the dark arts. It's always worth remembering that American local governments, for a century, collaborated with actual terrorists, targeting American citizens, while the federal government looked the other way. 

In that effort, I present this excerpt from Fog of War. I've never understood why, say, the firebombing of Tokyo wasn't terrorism. If you haven't seen this doc, do so immediately. McNamara maintains that he and Curtis LeMay were "acting as war criminals," while at the same time not faulting Truman for dropping the atomic bomb. And, frankly, I find him quite convincing.




As an aside, here's something interesting on Curtis LeMay from Wikipedia:

...LeMay, being fully aware of Wallace's segregationist platform and undeterred by his racist intentions, decided to throw his support to Wallace and eventually became Wallace's running mate. The general was dismayed, however, to find himself attacked in the press as a racial segregationist because he was running with Wallace; he had never considered himself a bigot. When Wallace announced his selection in October 1968, LeMay opined that he, unlike many Americans, clearly did not fear using nuclear weapons. His saber rattling did not help the Wallace campaign.

Man, people are complicated.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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