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What to call the counter-revolution

Once the protesters in Libya had become rebels, or rebel forces (a motley crew of loveable ingénus, royals and rogues — plus the odd Jedi, Wookiee, and Ewok — fighting the dark forces of an evil Empire), or rebel fighters (X-wings), an “intervention” (qv) was rendered more rhetorically palatable. (And the accidental bombing of rebel tanks — as though the tanks themselves had realized that they were on the wrong side — all the more “tragic”.) But then Malcolm Rifkind came on the radio last weekend saying that the rebels were no longer “rebels”: because Gaddafi’s government had lost all legitimacy, or so he argued, the “rebels” ought now to be described as insurgents. (Compare Iraq.) Meanwhile Gaddafi himself, in his delectably strange letter to Obama (or rather “Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama”), makes no mention of rebels but rather “Terror conducted by AlQaueda gangs that have been armed in some cities”. So I ask you, dear readers of are the rebels still “rebels” or not?

  1. 1  Phil Smith  April 8, 2011, 6:51 pm 

    Worse than ‘Rebels’ is ‘pro-democracy fighters’. Is that what motivates them, a love of democracy?

  2. 2  sw  April 9, 2011, 5:30 pm 

    It depends on their yell.

  3. 3  judith weingarten  April 9, 2011, 7:23 pm 

    Perhaps the rebels should simply be called East Libyans, who are fighting West Libyans — whether we like it or not.

    By the way, Gaddafi’s letter addressed to Obama as “Our dear son” is the correct form for a salutation from a Great King to a lesser king since ancient times in the Near East :-)

  4. 4  sw  April 10, 2011, 9:52 pm 

    Oh! I had thought the birthers had been proven right in ways they hadn’t even dreamed of!

  5. 5  john c. halasz  April 11, 2011, 11:20 pm 

    “Freedom entrepreneurs!”

  6. 6  Leinad  April 14, 2011, 9:20 am 

    john wins.

  7. 7  Steven  April 14, 2011, 9:32 am 

    I agree.

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