Don't let terror stifle expression 2

August 12, 2005

We cannot hope to combat terrorism without understanding its underlying nature, and Bill Durodie ("Terror in the first person", Review, August 5) is quite wrong to claim that we have now entered an era of terror purely for the sake of it.

We can hardly deny that terrorists have rational and legitimate aims pursued by non-legitimate means, and it is precisely this ambivalence as to proximate and ultimate goals that constitutes terrorism's chief danger.

Terrorism is the convergence of idealism with criminality. Its real work is to sap public morale, and its true threat is not its violence but its undermining of the rule of law by prompting hasty and draconian measures that help to discredit the judicial process. The result is moral and legal confusion - exactly what the hater of liberal society is aiming at.

If "incitement to terrorism" is made a criminal offence, would not Terry Eagleton's article in The Times Higher (July 15) - which suggested that law and order are a latent form of terror, thereby justifying the moral honesty of violent resistance - become a police matter rather than a debating point?

Nigel Probert, Porthmadog

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