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I am no fan of violence, so I abhor terrorism. But I loathe it no more than war. There is no moral difference between killing people with a bomb strapped to oneself and a bomb delivered via drone. I abhor terrorism, but everybody calls their enemies “terrorists” – Israel of Hamas (as Great Britain said of Israelis seventy years ago), Assad of his various enemies in Syria, the US of Sunnis disenfranchised by the Iraqi regime.

Nelson Mandela“Terrorist” has come to mean anyone opposed to my side! Nelson Mandela was branded a terrorist. The British, had they thought of it, would have called George Washington a terrorist. Desmond Tutu has been called a terrorist because he favors sanctions against Israel. Does he advocate violence? No! He calls for direct nonviolent action. But go ahead! Call him a terrorist. Why not?

George WashingtonI feel neutral about socialism as I do about capitalism. But when people call President Obama a socialist, I have to laugh! He speaks about income inequality! His administration helped devise a health system slightly less awful than the one we’ve had. When a centrist like Obama is called a “socialist,” the term has lost its meaning.

MLKNow Martin Luther King, Jr.: he was a socialist. He wanted no part of capitalism. He lived modestly, giving all of his earnings from speeches away. But did people call King a socialist? No. They called him a “communist.” Now one or two of his political advisers had links to the Communist Party, but they weren’t running the Soviet Union! King was called a communist because people felt he endangered their way of life. And he did, as Christianity always does!

Desmond TutuWhen I hear Obama called a socialist and remember that King was called a communist, all it means to me is that King was more dangerous to the status quo than Obama. And when I hear Tutu called a terrorist, flip a coin, laugh or cry.

Communism was many things. Socialism is many things. True terrorism is a horrible thing. But in our time, all three words have completely lost their meaning.