"One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” means that a fighter can be good or bad, depending upon one’s view of the cause he’s fighting for. The saying has been frequently used in the Middle East conflict. In the 1960s, Arab called themselves “freedom fighters,” with one 1969 Lebanese poster showing a guerrilla with the caption: “He is not a terrorist. He is a freedom fighter.”
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot” appears to have been spoken in the United Nations General Assembly in 1957 or 1958. “One man’s murderer is another man’s patriot” was printed in a 1958 book about Galilee, and “One man’s terrorist is another man’s heroic freedom fighter” was used in a 1968 book about the Middle East.
A similar saying is “One man’s mob is another man’s democracy.”
Letters, Apr. 1, 1957
Monday, Apr. 01, 1957
Your March 11 issue contains two articles: one on “terrorists,” the other on “freedom fighters.” This raises an interesting question: Would a dastardly “terrorist” become a heroic “freedom fighter” if he happened to be a Hungarian instead of a Cypriot?
J. H. GROFF Souderton, Pa.
Afro-Asian Peoples Conference 26 December 1957-1st January 1958 : principal reports submitted to the Conference
Cairo: Permanent Secretariat
But they should know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot and that they are fighting and dying in a lost cause, fighting to deny freedom to a people whose indominatable will has won the admiration of the whole world.
A Cottage in Galilee; [stories]
By Edwin Samuel
New York, NY: Abelard-Schuman
One man’s murderer is another man’s patriot. I never quite got over it.
Crisis and Conscience in the Middle East
By Christian Ewing Hauer
Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books
One man’s terrorist is another man’s heroic freedom fighter.
6 October 1968, Springfield (MA) Union, “Sound Off Voters Say Tighter Local Laws Are Best Protection,” pg. 32, col. 2:
“One man’s agitator is another man’s patriot.”
13 November 1969, New York (NY) Times, “Commandos Rule 14 Refugee Camps: Lebanese Authorities Are Ousted by Palestinians From U.N. Settlements” by Dana Adams Schmidt, pg. 12:
A poster attributed to the Popular Front shows a guerrilla and the caption reads: “He is not a terrorist. He is a freedom fighter.”
1 February 1971, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press, “Says More Sectors Need Protection,” pg. 14, col. 1:
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The obscene manifestations of white supremacy are leading desperate men to seek solutions in violence.”
(Gordon Fairweather, of Canada’s Parliament from Fundy-Royal—ed.)
That Greece might still be free:
The Philhellenes in the war of independence
By William St. Clair
London: Oxford University Press
One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, one man’s brigand is another man’s patriot, as his old friend Colocotrones might have explained to him.
13 September 1972, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, “Murders At Munich: Terrorists’ Success” by Smith Hempstone, pg. 14, col. 4:
It is always well to try to see one’s enemy as he sees himself, to recognize that one man’s “terrorist” is another’s “freedom fighter.”
12 December 1972, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, “Terrorism to get U.N. Study,” pg. 16, col. 5:
Arab and many African countries felt the effort was directed against the Palestinian and other liberation movements. They participated in preparation of the go-slow resolution, some observing that one man’s terrorist was another man’s patriot.
Revolutionary Guerrilla Warfare:
The countryside version
By Geoffrey Fairbairn
Baltimore, MD: Penguin
It cannot be too often emphasized that ‘terrorism’ is a loaded word: one man’s terrorist is another man’ s freedom fighter.
Journey into Cyprus
By Colin Thubron
So one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero.
Harry’s Game: a novel
By Gerald Seymour
New York, NY: Random House
He’d said to the colonel something like, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
Google News Archive
23 September 1975, Calgary (Alberta) Herald, pg. 61, cols. 1-2:
to attend Toronto
WASHINGTON (CP)—The American Society of Criminology (ASC), which holds its annual meeting in Toronto next month, has issued an “open invitation” to any terrorist who wants to participate.
He (Nicholas Kittrie, ASC president—ed.) said the Toronto meeting has been “programmed for controversy,” and would consider such premises as “one man’s terrorist is an other man’s freedom fighter.”
28 September 1976, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “Terrorism: Will U.N. try to end it?” by Wilbur G. Landrey, pg. 2A, col. 1:
One man’s terrorist is another man’s hero of national liberation.
26 October 1977, Baltimore (MD) Sun, “Terrorist poses problem for Somalia” by Michael Parks, pg. A2:
“One man’s terrorist is still another mans freedom fighter,” a West European diplomat observed.
Google News Archive
25 June 1984, Daytona Beach (FL) Morning Journal, pg. 3A, cols. 1-2:
Shultz Seeks Prior
WASHINGTON (AP)—Secretary of State George P. Shultz said Sunday night that pre-emptive actions by Western democracies may be necessary to counter the Soviet Union and other nations that he claimed have banded together in an international “League of Terror.”
Shultz described as “insidious” the claim by many that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
“Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don’t blow up buses containing noncombatants; terrorist murders do,” he said. “Freedom fighters don’t assassinate innocent businessmen or hijack innocent men, women and children; terrorist murderers do.”
OCLC WorldCat record
Defining Terrorism: Is One Man’s Terrorist another Man’s Freedom Fighter?
Author: Boaz Ganor
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Police Practice and Research, 3, no. 4 (2002): 287-304
OCLC WorldCat record
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” : the role of the media in constructing Palestinian identity
Author: Rawan Abdul-Nabi
Edition/Format: Book : Secondary (senior high) school : English
The Political Junkie Handbook
By Michael Crane
New York, NY: S.P.I. Books
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” unknown
OCLC WorldCat record
One man’s terror is another man’s freedom
Author: Mark Clare; RHA Gallagher Gallery (Dublin, Ireland)
Publisher: Dublin : Royal Hibernian Academy, 2007.
Edition/Format: Book : English
The Greatest Quotations of All-Time
By Anthony St. Peter
One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Anonymous
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 09, 2011 • Permalink