I'm tired of hearing people say that suicide bombing and other such acts of terrorism are irrational.
There are many ways to opine about suicide bombing: we can be morally opposed to the specific tactic, we can support it in theory but oppose it in practice, we can be opposed to the ideology behind it, we can support it in some circumstances and not others, we can armchair speculate about its effectiveness, etc.
But we cannot really say that it is an irrational tactic.
Resistance ranges from demonstrations, riots, general strikes, petitions, destruction of property or symbols, and "everyday forms of resistance" such as false compliance, theft, sabotage, foot dragging, popular discourse, etc. Acts of violent resistance are simply one other tactic, and potentially a powerful one, for the weak to influence the strong. As such, they are as rational as any other tactic. Irrational would mean there was no reason behind the act, that it was a senseless act of violence for no purpose. But terrorist acts do have an internal logic and reasoning behind them. There's enough work done in the political sciences and history to prove that. Indeed that is the only premise on which to base an effective strategy to stop terrorism.
So why can't they admit that? Why can't the politicians and pundits oppose an act of terrorism by declaring it a tragedy and a terrible crime, or even by standing in opposition to the ideology espoused by the perpetrators? Why do they call it irrational?
I suppose to say that terrorism is rational is to admit the terrorists aren't so completely different from us, that they aren't inhuman, stupid, or beast-like. Or perhaps admitting respect for one's "enemy" displays a lack of machismo. Or maybe it's just laziness.
There's a desire in politics and punditry for simplicity. That's why stereotypes seem to be everywhere - they are a nice convenient way of avoiding any sort of depth, complexity, heterogeneity, multiplicities, layers, standpoints - you know, reality. The Manichean world view of good v evil is easily mapped onto other binaries, like Civilized/Uncivilized, Freedom/The Commies, Moral/Immoral, HonestHardworkingAmericans/Evildoers, Us/The Terrorists, Rational/Irrational. So you only have to conjure one of these and all the others are assumed. So maybe the word irrational is used as just another synonym for "evil".
Odd, because what "irrationality" is pretty much a synonym for is faith, and I don't mean it derogatorily. Faith, in the Christian sense anyways, is basically the gap between reason and God. What is beyond the rational.
Interesting, too, that the oppressed and marginalized have historically been labeled irrational. Women, people of colour, the colonized, pagans, the mentally ill, sexual "deviants", etc.
Irrational != Immoral
Moral != Rational
(Translation for non-geeks that means "Irrational does not equal Immoral, Moral does not equal Rational)