Insightful Debate at Newsweek

With Joe Stack flying a plane into a building in Austin, Newsweek did some soul-searching over using the word ‘terrorist’, and provided insight into their internal e-mail debate. Admittedly, the language has changed since 9/11.

Michael Isikoff: . . .And as for your point— haven’t domestic groups declared war on the government and demonstrated a willingness to inflict mass casualties— well — I’m sure some domestic wackos have said wacko things, but I cant off the top o f my head think of a serious domestic group that has openly declared “war” on the United States or one currently in existence that has a documented history of inflicting mass casualties on civilians or announced its intention to do so in the future — all of which applies to Al Qaeda.

Mark HosenballThanks to Drudge — no Osama either, though perhaps a political party of one — we now know that the Austin plane crash guy had?a famous admirer. This doesn’t make Wesley Snipes a terrorist or even a sympathizer. but it does make you wonder how much difference there is between some of the American cultural icons (like Snipes and maybe Glenn Beck but not Drudge or Palin) who enable or validate some views on the lunatic fringe and the rabid Wahhabi clerics in the Muslim world who aren’t terrorists, but foster a culture in which they breed.

Michael Hirsh, Senior Editor, Washington Web Editor: Isikoff pretty much has it right. Al Qaeda and Islamist extremism co-opted the term “terrorist” after 9/11. No one had any problem calling Timothy McVeigh a domestic terrorist before? 9/11.

And Stack is pretty isolated. There was the same fear after OK City. But it turns out there aren’t as many copycat killings of this nature as there are, say, school shootings.