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John Brown and Terrorism

There is much use of the word terrorist these days, but most people misunderstand the proper use of the term. Terrorism is deliberate attacks and intimidation on civilian targets. John Brown was not so much a terrorist as he was a wildly irresponsible ideologue. Part of the reason that John Brown is revered so much is because his plan did not occur the way he wished. Had Brown’s insurrection gone as he had wished, an untold number of African-American slaves would have been slaughtered.

While in the world Brown envisioned the slave revolt would have been successful, the reality is that an overwhelming military response would have occurred and the severely outgunned slaves would have been killed. This is to say nothing of the massive civil unrest that would have occurred that probably would have resulted in lynch mobs having slaughtered scores of black citizens. While there may be some heroic nobility accorded to Brown because of his grandiose plan, the reality is that what Brown had planned was widely irresponsible.

Osama Bin Laden believed that 9/11 would have served some purpose. The result of 9/11 has been non-stop war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and, recently, Pakistan. Brown’s foolishly irresponsible attempt at civil unrest, on an extremely baseline level, lacked the sufficient military power to carry forward and, like Bin Laden, would have only resulted in wide-scale slaughter Perhaps had Brown been successful, the results of his actions would not have seen him become a folk hero, but rather a pariah.

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