Out Run Politics
The 1980’s were a time where terrorist’s organizations that were flourishing as a result of post radical organizations such as the Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) which inspired many of the Terrorists. Some of these new groups that arose during the 1980’s were the Black Liberation Army, the May 19th Communist organization, and the United Freedom Front (UFF). Brent L. Smith wrote the book Terrorism in America: Pipe Bombs and Pipe Dreams, which explains the left-wing and right-wing terrorism in the 1980’s. He breaks down the history, reasoning, legalities, and the end out come of these groups. The author wanted to make his book stand out by not focusing on the “vagueness of the concept rather than to provide conceptual clarity to the subject”1. The author shows the 1980’s as a time progressivism and liberalism in the terms of terrorism.
In the first part of the book, the author focuses on what the FBI defines as terrorism, how that definition changes, and why it changes. The author explains that there is no formal charge for terrorism, but when caught terrorist are “charged with a plethora of traditional and, occasionally, exotic criminal offensives as well.”2 Once a terrorist is caught they are then classified as a terrorist by the government. Then, they go through a trial with no jury and are usually found guilty much more quickly than the civilian court system. Case in example when Alan Berkman went on trial for an assassination attempt on a U.S. senator, his trial took two days, while a trial about a civilian who has committed homicide could take months in trial. Also the FBI has “to investigate ongoing or suspected acts of terrorism”3. The FBI usually prefers to target full groups, such as UFF, instead of an isolated event. The author is most fascinated with the fact that Jewish extremists committed the most violent terrorist attacks in 1986, but since then, they haven’t committed terrorist attacks. He also talks about the Christian Identity movement, which was a way for Christians to express their view that the next great messiah is coming and the world should prepare itself. One thing he notes with all of these terrorist organizations is that they are almost all influenced by the time periods before them. They all used the same Marxist views about how society is evil and also thought that Americans were capitalist. After the Cuban revolution terrorists were looking up to Fidel Castro, such as Omega 7 and the Order, and Castro became “the leading spokesperson for the revolution in the Americas”4.
One big struggle the author talks about terrorists needing both “secrecy and publicity”5. They wanted to have their cause recognized but then they didn’t want the government constantly watching them and possibly getting them in trouble for plotting a terrorist attack. The FBI prioritizes officials when they are being attacked such as governors or the president. The terrorist groups getting ever smarter even got into the government, such as the Order. The Order “were present at the 1983 Congress in July that year” as officials and had little influence on passing any acts. The Order would also bring in people such as ex-convicts or alcoholics, and would give them a direction to go-that direction was terror. Terrorist groups who needed money would usually commit burglary such as the Ukiah robbery where the Ukiah took $3.6 million dollars and used it to “procure weapons and paramilitary equipment”7. Which were then later used to get revenge on the judge and other officials who put their leader in jail. The author wanted to show that these terrorists had an agenda to fulfill, and they would complete it under any circumstances.
Next, the author talks about the next wave of terrorism started by the Skinheads, who “strike against the fundamental freedoms of Americans-life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”8. The biggest targets of this second wave terrorism were the students of colleges and universities, because they were really easy to convince and make them join terrorist organizations. At this same time the UFF, a terrorist organization started by Students for a Democratic Society, was the most “prolific left-wing terrorist group in the United States”9, which is surprising since, the group usually only has about eight members at a time. The leader, Jeff Fort, changed the Rukns into a military influenced gang where they were given ranks, orders, and weapons. This all led up to eventual hating of American imperialism. The Rukns hated American imperialism because they thought it made other countries and people suffer and used Kaddafi to bomb government buildings, officials, and Pan Am flight 103. Another group the EMETIC, which is an environmental terrorist group that felt that “humans will eventually bring down the world to a cataclysmic end.”10. They wanted to bring order to the world by controlling it and telling people how to live their lives so they don’t destroy the world with their capitalistic views. This was the first tome in decades that environmental terrorist have taken any serious actions toward people and not just threats of bombings and shootings. International terrorism is usually an influence to American terrorist, the author then looked at the Omega 7 group, who was linked to all sorts of international terrorism such as bombings of buses and other public areas.
Near the end of the book, the author starts to talk about how the judiciary system started to change its mind on how the courts treat terrorism and what they consider to be terrorism. The Supreme Court wanted judges to not be so hard on terrorists and “to serve as an effective system of checks and balances against excessive prosecution.”11. The author noted that in the sentencing process there was a difference in the left-wing and right-wing terrorist sentencing as well as noticing that the international terrorist were also getting different sentencing. The differences were that the left-wing terrorist were getting harsher punishment that the right-wing terrorist, and also the international terrorist were getting harsher punishment even though they should be getting about equal sentencing. The author suspects that the judges are inconsistent with their sentencing do to not an overall plan for terrorists sentencing.
Brent L. Smith has a PHD in sociology and he puts that knowledge to use in breaking down why terrorist commit their crimes. He is currently a professor at the University of Kansas and teaches sociology. His work is well known in the world of terrorism research because of his extensive research. In addition to his work on the judiciary council, he also appeared in Justice Quarterly. He also wrote terrorism on America which also expresses his views of how terrorists all have the same mind set and that the Marxist views are the preference for the terrorist. There isn’t much know about his life, but he wrote the book in 1996, a time when international terrorism was starting to become more prevalent, encouraging him to focus more on the international terrorist. He was a teacher when he wrote this book and that can also make it so that he doesn’t completely express his mind.
Critics feel that Brent is more liberal in his way of thinking because his attitude toward “the judges and toward the terrorist”12 It seems he likes the fact that the courts are trying to make everyone equal under the eyes of law. He thinks that the terrorist should be getting a fair trial, but he also understands the side of the prosecution and that they are trying to keep the terrorist in jail so that they don’t comeback and cause more damage. Another review thought his tone seemed a little negative towards the FBI’s take on terrorism, and that he was trying to make it seem insufficient and Brent wanted change. He also “explains word by word why the FBI’s definition is a bad one”13. He also is very open to understanding that all of these terrorists have reasons for attacking people, bombing, and robbing places. The author really tries to get both sides of the story and tries to understand the sociological reasons behind people’s actions.
This book does a really good job of giving a wide variety of examples to how people are affected by others, but the book does it so that it shows the human nature and the consistency with all of these terrorists groups. Even without a lawful background you can still understand the book very well. You can feel the little bit of remorse in his words every time he talks about a bombing or an assassination, almost as if to take it personal and I think that comes from his lawful background that he has and that connection to judges. The author believes that laws and rules are useless unless “they are caught.”14 . The author explains this and he’s constant encouragement about when the FBI or the government is talking about increasing the way they find terrorist or the way that they find how to prevent future incidents from happening. Since he wrote this in 1996 with his heavy involvement in law, he can see the fact that terrorism rates are skyrocketing. He probably would also want to know why people are doing because as a teacher of sociology he wants to understand the mindset of these terrorists.
Most of these terrorist feel that they are doing the right thing and that they are trying to bring good to their followers and all have a common goal and realize that “one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter”15. This is very true I mean look at our troops when they go and invade other countries: our troops seem as if they are terrorizing that country. When looking at who the bad guy is in terrorism, is all about perspective. In the book it discusses that a lot of the terrorists seem to favor the Marxist views and that they feel that America is a bad capitalist country that is going to destroy the world with its horrible economy, by making the American dollar skyrocket and cause worldwide inflation. Again, this is all in perspective. They may like the socialist view better because they are living in a poorer environment and they want to have equal opportunity for everyone. Even though not everyone in America is rich even the poor in America make more money then some people make in a lifetime in other parts of the world. In perspective not everyone comes from the same place and don’t all have the same opportunity.
As the 1980’s grew, the expansion of terrorism and terrorism policy grew as well, heading in the direction of more liberalism and less conservatism with regards to terrorism policy. As seen in the book though the world of law and the world of terrorism, was all new and something had to be done about it and that the FBI was heading in the direction of liberalism and not conservatism when the FBI had a “renewed emphasis on terrorism”16 . This was a very new way of handling terrorism but it was becoming such a big problem in America we had to do something about it or else we would have been over run by terrorism. Also there were the judges who had try to be the equalizers and not the attorneys because the lack of a jury, a completely new idea. Also, it was major movement toward a political progressivism because of the new wave thinking and the way they were trying to solve these new terrorist threats.
In conclusion, terrorism in the 1980s was the first time that anyone has had to deal with major groups of terrorism. Thanks to the FBI they were able to put new policies and new technologies to work and terrorist were finally “designated as terrorist”17 unlike before where they were only bad criminals and now they are under the category of terrorist. This shows the lack of conservatism with in the FBI and the government with terrorism policy.
1. Smith, Brent. Terrorism in America: Pipe bombs and pipe dreams. New York: State University of New York Press, 1994. 5.
2. Smith, Brent.7.
3. Smith, Brent.7.
4. Smith, Brent.40.
5. Smith, Brent.41.
6. Smith, Brent.68.
7. Smith, Brent.71.
8. Smith, Brent.91.
9. Smith, Brent.110.
10. Smith, Brent.130.
11. .Smith, Brent.169.
12. Damphousse, Keller R. "TERRORISM, POLITICS, AND PUNISHMENT: A TEST OF STRUCTURALCONTEXTUAL THEORY AND THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”*.” TERRORISM THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”. Wiley Library, 07 Mar. 2006. Web. 21 May 2016.1.
13. Damphousse, Keller R. “TERRORISM, POLITICS, AND PUNISHMENT:
A TEST OF STRUCTURALCONTEXTUAL THEORY AND THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”*.” TERRORISM THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”. Wiley Library, 07 Mar. 2006. Web. 21 May 2016.2.
14. Smith, Brent.132.
15. Smith, Brent.5.
16. Smith, Brent.168.
17. Smith, Brent.3.
18. Smith, Brent. Terrorism in America: Pipe bombs and pipe dreams. New York: State University of New York Press, 1994. 5.
19. Smith, Brent.7.
20. Smith, Brent.7.
21. Smith, Brent.40.
22. Smith, Brent.41.
23. Smith, Brent.68.
24. Smith, Brent.71.
25. Smith, Brent.91.
26. Smith, Brent.110.
27. Smith, Brent.130.
28. .Smith, Brent.169.
29. Damphousse, Keller R. “TERRORISM,
“TERRORISM, POLITICS, AND PUNISHMENT: A TEST OF STRUCTURALCONTEXTUAL THEORY AND THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”*.” TERRORISM THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”. Wiley Library, 07 Mar. 2006. Web. 21 May 2016.1. 13. Damphousse, Keller R. “TERRORISM, POLITICS, AND PUNISHMENT:
POLITICS, AND PUNISHMENT: A TEST OF STRUCTURALCONTEXTUAL THEORY AND THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”*.” TERRORISM THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”. Wiley Library, 07 Mar. 2006. Web. 21 May 2016.1.
30. 13. Damphousse, Keller R. “TERRORISM, POLITICS, AND PUNISHMENT: A TEST OF STRUCTURALCONTEXTUAL THEORY AND THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”*.” TERRORISM THE “LIBERATION HYPOTHESIS”. Wiley Library, 07 Mar. 2006. Web. 21 May 2016.2.
31. Smith, Brent.132.
32. Smith, Brent.5.
33. Smith, Brent.168.
34. Smith, Brent.3.