The other day a reporter on NPR (National Public Radio), talking about the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit, said:
If we’re at war, maybe we should treat these people as warriors.
I did a double-take on that one.
Yes, the word warrior derives from the word war, but in English warrior carries a connotation of nobility and courage. Perhaps there are more appropriate words with which to refer to civilians who try to blow up airplanes.
If we don’t want to use “terrorist” in every context, we still have a variety of choices to describe a person who brings violence to bear against one country on behalf of another.
Apparently the reporters and announcers at NPR are really uncomfortable with war terminology. Here’s something else I heard one of them say in another context on the same day:
teaching America’s war fighters to respect other cultures