October 02, 2009

US policy = seeking terror-tory

Newcomb:  The sinister roots of ‘territory’

By Steven NewcombTerritory is of critical importance to the colonial problem of the United States. Snow said that from the “earliest time” the meaning of the word “territory” had been disputed. Based on a number of Latin writers dating back to the Roman Empire, Snow traced the concept of “territory” to the Latin word “terreo,” “to hold a place in subjection through terror, or excessive fear.”

From this perspective, the more accurate spelling of “territory” would be “terror-tory,” meaning, “a region or place held under subjection or control through the use of terroristic force against the people.” A successful war of terror results in an expanded “terror-tory” (territory).

Snow said the double suffix “torium” resulted in the whole word “toritorim,” the literal meaning in Latin being, “a place pertaining to a person who holds in subjection through terror or excessive fear.” A toritorim is a place that is held “through awe, or dread.” The more benign and euphemistic sounding meaning would be, “a place subject to the exclusive control of a person (such as a Lord), or a political community.”

All this leads to a troubling but quite logical conclusion. Behind the “Doctrine of Discovery” and the claim of a unilateral U.S. “plenary power” over Indian nations is the claimed “right” of Christian terror-torial sovereignty. This can be characterized as the presumed right by a “Christian prince or people” to invasively use terroristic force against non-Christians (heathens and infidels).
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Spiritual Terrorism" Against Indians, Imperialism Based on Langauge, and Those Evil Europeans.


dmarks said...

I'd always understood that "territory" was based on "terra", Earth.

Anonymous said...

I remember that website (back when it was indiancountry.com) publishing an article claiming that a historical Vatican publication talking about "Saracens" referred to Indians.

They aren't all that great when it comes to getting things right.

Rob said...

Newcomb cited a book by Alpheus Snow as his source. Snow supposedly traced "territory's" origin to "a number of Latin writers dating back to the Roman Empire."

Snow's book was published in 1902, so it's not exactly modern scholarship. Perhaps recent findings have invalidated his position.

I don't have a problem acknowledging that Snow is in the minority on the word "territory." I don't think Newcomb was seriously asserting that Snow was right and other scholars were wrong. Rather, he was using this minority opinion as another excuse to criticize Euro-Christian attitudes toward Indians.

Whether "territory" is based on "terror" or not, the West's territorial conquests were often based on terror. These conquests started with Columbus's cutting off the hands of the Indians who didn't bring him gold. That was Newcomb's point and it's a good one.

And note: Newcomb is a columnist, not a reporter, with Indian Country Today. Unless he slanders someone, ICT isn't responsible for fact-checking his claims. Don't blame the newspaper if Newcomb says something you don't agree with.

Rob said...

DMarks contacted word expert Michael Sheehan about "territory." Here is Sheehan's response:

I just took a quick look at the Oxford English Dictionary. The general belief is that territory came from the word terra, Latin for earth or place. But some commentators (not ancient as far as I can see) suggest that there might be a connection to terrere, to frighten, leading to "a place from which people are warned off." This seems to be a strictly minority opinion.

Chambers-Murray Latin Dictionary defines terrirorium as the land around a town, and gives a citation from Cicero. There is no suggestion there that fear entered into the origin.

Skeats' Concise Dictionary of English Etymology refers to terra only and makes no mention of fear. Likewise with Wedgewood's Dictionary of English Etymology. Same thing with Thomas & Lynd.

I'd tend to go with the common opinion, but I'm no Latin scholar.

Mike Sheehan