ter-ror-ism: Christopher Hitchens attempts to

: Christopher Hitchens attempts to define terrorism at Slate and again in Elizabeth Spiers‘ report on one of his many recent New York appearances. He holds that terrorism involves asking too much: “Terrorism, then, is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint. ” He further argues that political groups fighting occupation with possible goals are not terrorists.

Wrong, smart boy.

I’ll pull the rhetorical trick I hate most in this world — but one that is relevant here: quoting the dictionary: “The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.”

Wrong again.

The key word missing here is the object of the sentence: Innocents. Civilians. Children on a MidEast street. Workers in a New York highrise. You. Me.

Terrorism is the act of inflicting terror — whether death, threat, harm, fear, or destruction — against innocents to further a political or religious aim or orthodoxy.

Terrorism is what happened on September 11.

What bin Laden et al were or were not asking for and whether that is or is not possible is utterly irrelevant.

: Here is just the latest act of terrorism.