I don't know what to say about conflating non-uniformed men who are not associated with any state or government, high-jacking civilian airliners and flying them into skyscrapers with civilians, with uniformed men during a declared war flying military planes to drop bombs on an enemy city. A war in which we were attacked, unprovoked, I might add, and which had dragged on for years at the cost of tens of thousands of American lives. Dropping bombs on a city during war was hardly novel. The only "novelty" was the payload/destructive power of the atomic weapons.
I get how reasonable people can come down on one side or the other as to whether dropping atomic weapons on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were justifiable, but calling it "terrorism" the same as ISIS or Al Qaeda or North Korea is really just beyond the fringe.
Not saying that the nuclear strikes were the wrong choice, but can you explain how the two actions were different without referencing legality or retribution?
Yes I can, and it's all about context. Now, there's a helluva lot of context regarding WWII and terrorist attacks by ISIL, so I'll use an analogy instead:
Scenario 1: Man walks up to another man, puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, killing him instantly
Scenario 2: Man walks up to another man, puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, killing him instantly
These two statements are identical, and so someone might naively (and disingenuously) say, "See, these two things are the same, one is no better than the other. They were both designed to blow the guy's head off in a violent way." They could name all kinds of things like has been done above comparing the two acts to try to make them appear morally equivalent, but it's still disingenuous ("they're both designed to create terror," "both claimed they were in a war", "both involved innocent casualties", "both used violent weapons", etc.).
But here are three different contexts as examples:
Case 1: Habitual criminal with multiple prior violent felony crime convictions walks up to a father of four at a restaurant with his family, and shoots him in the head indiscriminately, or because he's a Muslim, or a Christian, or because he has a family which the criminal resents. Almost all people would describe this homicide as completely unjustified and evil.
Case 2: A counterterrorism agent shoots an ISIL person in the head who is one second or less away from pulling the trigger on a detonator that, when activated, will blow up a dirty bomb that will kill or maim thousands of civilians in a children's amusement park. Almost all would describe this homicide as completely justified and necessary, and some might even describe it as "good" since it saved thousands of innocent lives.
Case 3: A man in the throes of grief/temporary insanity shoots in the head another man who has just minutes prior murdered his family and raped his small children and burned their house down with the bodies in it, but who has surrendered himself and no longer poses an imminent threat to anyone. This case is in a grey area that makes lots of us uncomfortable. Plenty would describe it as unjustified, plenty would say it's justified. Some would say it's unjustified but understandable/forgivable, and lots of other variations.
I suggest the atomic bombings during WWII were a lot like Case 2 (justifiable) with a fair amount of Case 3 thrown in (some murky, grey areas). ISIL and Al Qaeda attacks are 100% Case 1.