Saw Gerrera: patriots, terrorists, and perspectives

A quotation from the Star Wars franchise character Saw Gerra makes for an interesting reflection related to current events. For those that don't know about this character, here's some background from

Saw Gerrera was a human male resistance fighter who, as a leading member of the Onderon rebels, fought against the Confederacy of Independent Systems on Onderon during the Clone Wars. He and his sister, Steela Gerrera, were instrumental in the rebel liberation of their homeworld during the Onderonian Civil War. He later became a key member in the fight against the Galactic Empire and the formation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. His tactics against the Empire led him to be seen as an extremist, one whose notoriety was recognized by the Empire and, many years later, the New Republic.

Here's the line from this character that I'd like to comment on in this post. It's found at the top of the page in the entry quoted above:

"I'm not a terrorist. I'm a patriot. And resistance is not terrorism."

In consideration of this quote my two main areas of research come together. The first is pop culture and the fantastic, which is what TheoFantastique is all about, and the second is interreligious conflict. These two areas of research meet in this character and the quote. Here we have a science fiction character who fights as a rebel against the evil empire. But from his perspective, his self-identity is not one of terrorist. Instead, he sees himself as a patriot, a freedom fighter. What I find interesting about this is that this is exactly the same perspective of those involved in various forms of conflict over political (and somewhat religious) differences where the individual or a group of individuals are fighting a much larger and powerful force, usually a government. In our current context this is precisely the view of members of Boko Haram, al-Quaeda, and ISIS. But from the perspective of those in the receiving end of their violence they are seen as terrorists. Perspective is everything.

In offering this commentary I am not saying that terrorist violence is therefore justified. However, (contrary to conservatives who say there is nothing to be gained by trying to come to grips with the causes, and perhaps even our role in the construction of our enemies, I believe we must understand the perspective of those engaged in such violence if want to truly come to grips with what contributes to it. Only then will we be able to put together holistic strategies that may be effective in ending the violence.

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There are 1 Comments to "Saw Gerrera: patriots, terrorists, and perspectives"

  • Tony Mills says:

    This is a good start, but I'm wondering if you have more to say about this? I only saw Rogue One once (and once is a enough for me, but that's another topic), but I did note Saw's role. It made no sense to me how the rebellion saw his methods as extreme when they themselves are mounting an armed resistance against the Empire, but whatever. I thought it suggestive that Saw's people were dressed much like our real-life "terrorists" (turbans, tunics, etc.) and were labelled by the "good guys" as too extreme. Disney and the Star Wars franchise specifically are of course extremely conservative, so this doesn't surprise me, but I think there is a lot more to say about rebellion and resistance in our present context, not only with regard to acts of terrorism overseas but also with regard to our present domestic context. I get a kick out of my geek friends who worship a fictional rebellion but whose views and actions almost completely align with American empire.

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