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"An opinion about the American gangster?" Topic

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966 hits since 9 Oct 2012
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Personal logo Saginaw Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2012 4:44 p.m. PST

I was looking at a couple of great films recently: 'The FBI Story', the 1959 movie with James Stewart and 'J. Edgar', with Leonardo DiCaprio. While I was watching them, it got me to thinking about the following:

Al Capone
"Bugs" Moran
Bonnie & Clyde
"Baby Face" Nelson
John Dillinger
"Machine Gun" Kelly….

…and a host of others from the Prohibition era.

Could they be now looked upon by the present day term "domestic terrorist"? Why or why not?

Etranger Inactive Member09 Oct 2012 4:51 p.m. PST

This will get all blue fezzy soon! However, AFAIK the gangsters didn't have any political goals or aims in mind during their activities, beyond get rich and don't get caught doing so. Terrorist groups generally have some broader goal in mind, even if sometimes turning to bank robbing etc to fund thier activities.

Would you consider the Mafia & other organised crime gangs to be terrorists?

Dynaman878909 Oct 2012 4:53 p.m. PST

Etranger has it – they were simply out for money, terrorist has to have some political motivation for what they do.

gweirda Inactive Member09 Oct 2012 5:21 p.m. PST

Correct (re: previous posts), imo.

Thus any gaming scenario involving gangsters (prohibition era, I assume?) would impose an economic basis for success of said forces or at the very least a survival outcome that didn't hurt future chances of economic advancement.

see…no BlueFez needed.

Now to go search for minis…I think 15mm would be best for a flivver?

Jakar Nilson09 Oct 2012 6:05 p.m. PST

The Prohibition-era gangsters fit the definition of the word "gangster" much more than the badly-dressed gangstas of today.

Lee Brilleaux Fezian09 Oct 2012 6:41 p.m. PST

There are really two different branches of 20s/30s gangsterdom.

Capone and Moran (from your list) and all the big city gangsters are essentially running criminal business enterprises. Prohibition gave them the opportunity to run vast business operations, which then extended into gambling, racketeering and a wide variety of things that people like that just happened to be illegal. These guys are executives! Politics? They liked to buy politicians, of any variety.

The rest of your list are bank robbers, aiming to make their score in a short and exciting period before the law caught up with them. They were mostly rural in origin, and 'American' rather than immigrants. Politics? Certainly they were seen as enemies of the bankers, and as such were hugely popular among victims of the Depression (which is to say, almost everyone).

J.Edgar Hoover pretended the Mafia did not exist, and received daily horse racing tips from mob boss Frank Costello. Hoover was obsessed with Dillinger and the other bank robbers, who were very small fry indeed compatred with organized crime.

The second group expected to die young, in a hail of gunfire. The first group hoped to die old, in Miami Beach.

The Shadow09 Oct 2012 8:42 p.m. PST

…and the third group. Organized small time local hoods such as extortionists, numbers racketeers, highjackers, rum runners, fences, loan sharks, etc.

Personal logo Saginaw Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2012 8:51 p.m. PST

Would you consider the Mafia & other organised crime gangs to be terrorists?

It depends. The Mafia could be abstractly considered "terrorists" of sorts. A few of their past notable "hits" were made in public where human collateral damage could have occurred. In one tragic example, police found the body of a man who was mistakenly murdered by the Mob, only because he shared the same name as another crime boss.

Today's Mexican drug cartels can definitely be considered "terrorists", in that they've included innocent men, women, and children in their murderous rampage without hesitation.

corporalpat Inactive Member09 Oct 2012 11:04 p.m. PST

Go ahead and rant and rave or dawghouse me or whatever you want to do, but the truth is, by today's definition, even George Washington would be considered a terrorist leader according to the English government of the time! Think about it.

Ducking for cover now.

Personal logo Mardaddy Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2012 11:10 p.m. PST

Saginaw, hate to point it out, but the presence of innocent collateral damage does not a terrorist make.

Plain and simply, "terrorists," are individuals and/or organizations seeking political, social or cultural change through the systematic use of, "terror," coercion and intimidation as a tactic.

Drug cartels DO seek political change, and do systematically use terror as a tactic, so they fit the definition that way.

The Mafia sought political and social change, and while they did coerce & intimidate, its use was sporadic and not systematic.

None of the "bank robbers" sought any change besides the sacks of cash changing into their hands from the banks vaults, so no, not terrorists.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2012 4:21 a.m. PST

corporalpat – in the long run though the difference between a terrorist group and freedom fighters is – did they "win".

By this measure George Washington was a freedom fighter.

Dynaman878910 Oct 2012 5:31 a.m. PST

> Drug cartels DO seek political change

Not really, their income relies on corrupting the existing system rather then changing the system. Change can get them only one of two bad (for them) outcomes. The first is that the drugs they sell become legal (and thus cheaper) or the government changes to one that REALLY cracks down on them.

Personal logo Mardaddy Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2012 6:45 a.m. PST

Dynaman8789, You are assuming I mean they want change to make their business legal, not at all.

I'd say they seek political change as evidenced by the veiled or not so veiled threat of violence (using terror & intimidation displaying the willingness for kidnapping, beheadings) on key political positions, coercing them to look the other way, or making them, "made," allowing the cartels to do their business the way it makes them the most money.

richarDISNEY10 Oct 2012 7:17 a.m. PST

Just "Gangs" or "Organized Crime".

vojvoda Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 12:58 p.m. PST

Could they be now looked upon by the present day term "domestic terrorist"? Why or why not?

Look at it this way the Mexican Drug Cartels are running drugs and people across the border. DHS says it would be easy for a terrorist group to contract entry with them. Gangsters of the 20s and 30s no different then the gangs down there now. So AFAIK yes domestic terrorist.

The drug trade funds much of what is going on in Afganistan, The Shun Army in the Golden Triangle so on and so forth. Terrorist ties and links? You bet.
James Mattes

Redoran Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 5:51 p.m. PST

I think Mardaddy said it all pretty well!
These criminals weren't married to an ideology the way a terrorist might be.
Crime syndicates don't need their chosen man in office once the incumbent official is in their pocket.

But if the modern criminals organisations haven't been dubbed terrorists yet, why would the older organisations be considered terrorists?

I think a more apt example than the Mexican cartels might be the FARC in Colombia. There the line is blurred between the two groups you are discussing, with a terrorist organisation whose main income is provided by organised crime.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2012 7:01 p.m. PST

The first group hoped to die old, in Miami Beach.

Or, in bed, in exile in Little Rock, running a safe house resort for elderly retired mobsters.

billthecat11 Oct 2012 11:38 a.m. PST

Just definitions…
Nice one OFM.

OSchmidt Inactive Member11 Oct 2012 1:16 p.m. PST

Regardless of the acts they do, the root cause of the gangsters acts is money. The perpetration of the acts is contingent on another purpose- money, silence or compliance in the surrender of money, etc. They do not do terrorist acts just to do terrorist acts. which is what a terrorist does. The terrorist act IS the purpose, and once committed, the goal has been met. The goal for the gangster is met only if the money flows.

The gangsters of the 20's and 30's (like the Mafia today) have a vested interest in the present society unlike the terrorst to whom the society is the enemy and the object to be destroyed. The gangster knows that in a society prepared to itself committ terrorist acts (engnder a secret police, torture, suspension of habeus corpus, prison camps) they would not last 10 minutes. Thus the gangsters of the 20's and 30's (and the Mafia of today) hide under the legal protections given to every citizen, such legal protections are of cours the object of the terrorist to destroy. That is the point of terror.

In the classic "gangsters" of the 20's and 30's and the era of organized crime, it did not go well with an assasin if he killed the wrong person, that is, what the Mafia would consider an "innocent person." Terrorst do not care, there is no distinction among victims, they are all equally targets.

By the way, do you know why the government hates the Mafia?

Because, unlike government, it is an organization based on accountability.


FriendOfMrGreen Inactive Member12 Oct 2012 6:02 p.m. PST

What would now be called terrorist/freedom fighters, were the source of many criminal gangs, organized and not-so-organized.

When Napoleon invaded Italy, the group that opposed him:
Morte Alla Francia Italia Anelia! (Italian for 'Death To the French Is Italy's Cry')M A F I A.

In a similar vein, the remains of William Quantril's raiders formed the nucleus[sp?] of the James/Younger gang.

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