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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 18, Issue 1/4, 2002

Henry G. Burger
Pages 209-220

“Slitherites” or “Terrorists”?—Spin-doctoring the Combatants

The Middle Eastern trouble continues, in part, from a jumbling of names for the two parties. But social science requires precise delineation as each belligerent streamlines a modus operandi. “Terrorist” commonly means “relating to what presently is causing terror”. Therefore, so to term those insurgents is to concede victory to them, without further struggle. One must map the nicknames for each of the tactical variants. In so doing, we find several dozen overlapping terms, such as identity thief, agent provocateur, and scorpion. Most analogies, however, are anthropomorphized by the characteristics of snakes. Therefore, some existing analogy for the insurgents would better be reimaged by terming them “slitherites”. Our Goal Is to Name the Phases of the Middle Eastern Struggle.

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