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September 25, 2005
Why, Some Of His Best Friends Are Terrorists

Mayors in any country tend towards the colorful and radical. They usually cannot sustain their political base for any higher office, but their antics entertain enough of the locals to ensure re-election to citywide office. We have politicians such as Marion Berry in the United States. In London, the British have the ongoing spectacle of Red Ken Livingstone. Today the Washington Times reports that Red Ken has given a nuanced look at the humanity of terrorists, reminding us that they are people too, after all:

Acts of terrorism are sometimes justified, London Mayor Ken Livingstone said last week. There is often no other way to fight oppression than using "the assassin's bullet or the assassin's bomb," he added.

Speaking at a London press conference on Thursday, Mr. Livingstone -- called "Red Ken" for his outspoken and often controversial political views -- said he has known terrorists he viewed as "courageous and principled."

Asked by UPI whether he supports the British government's plans for new anti-terrorist legislation, announced last week, Mr. Livingstone said he is concerned that the proposed offense of "glorifying terrorism" is very hard to define.

"It is very easy for politicians in the West to make these random denunciations of terrorist attacks, but then I have known terrorists that I viewed as courageous and principled," he said.

He then used as an example a German Jew during the Hitler years whose job with the German Communists was to blow up Nazi Party headquarters. After the fall of the Nazis, this man supposedly had to flee the Communists and came to the UK instead and remained active in Socialist politics. Unfortunately, that doesn't fit anyone's definition of terrorism. Bombing a government facility is an act of sedition, but not terrorism, and sedition against the Nazi dictatorship hardly requires a defense. Terrorism involves terrorizing a civilian population in order to force political change, which in turn requires the targeting of civilians, not government facilities or military personnel.

His second example, that of fighting the Uzbek autocracy, not only has the same flaw but also only got included to cover up his use of the term "terrorist" for Jews fighting against the Nazis and the Holocaust. The Nazis referred to the Jews as "terrorists" as well. It shows a particular bent for Livingstone to use an example of a Jewish member of the German Underground as a moral equivalent of the Muslim terrorists that the new anti-terror laws in Britain target and which Livingstone meant to criticize.

Coming so soon after Muslim terrorists bombed the Tube and killed dozens of Brits, one wonders how much longer Londoners will find Red Ken all that colorful and instead start viewing him with embarrassment and disgust.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 25, 2005 9:02 AM

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