Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Musings: Terror By Any Other Name

The world, or at least my small part of it, is muffled today. Human sounds are squelched by a thick layer of clouds, but bird song, happily, still comes through loud and clear.

Syria is, quite rightly, loudly condemning America’s helicopter raid within its borders, which left eight people dead in a strike on not a known or convicted terrorist, but a suspected al Qaeda facilitator.

But America, as usual, doesn’t seem to hear.

Syrian Embassy spokesman [Jihad ] Makdissi said the United States cannot take matters into its own hands.
"They should come to Syrian authorities and share their information instead of applying the law of the jungle," Makdissi told the BBC.

Sunday’s cross-border raid is a continuation of our current U.S. policy to commit terror in the so-called “war on terror” by using special operations forces to carry out assassinations. It`s yet another example of our “do as I say and not as I do” approach to foreign policy.

Because, of course, if such a thing had happened in this country, we’d already have dispatched the fighter jets to blow the perps away, along with a number of civilians and city blocks for good measure. Somehow we just don’t catch the hypocrisy.

The incident reminded me a conversation I had the other day with two Rastafarian friends, one of them a priest and reggae musician just back from the U.S. Virgin Islands. We were discussing the system of rule within the Virgin Islands, a U.S. protectorate, and how reluctant America is to give up its empire.

We just can’t imagine that folks wouldn’t be universally thrilled at the chance to live under the wing — or boot — of Uncle Sam. Those who resist, such as the Iraqis and Afghanis, are viewed, as one person noted in the comments section of a previous post, as “ungrateful Shites.”

What’s the matter with them? Heck, we’re killing people all over the world to spread American democracy!

Our conversation reminded my Rasta friend of an encounter he’d had in a Georgia waffle house recently, when he and his reggae band were traveling through the South after a gig in the North.

“We were sitting around, talking consciousness stuff like this, when a guy walked up and said, ‘It’s America, nigger, love it or leave it.’ And we said, well, we are in a waffle house in Georgia.”

I wasn’t sure what troubled me most: the racist nationalism expressed by the waffle house patron, or my friend’s acceptance of such things as the norm, something to be expected if one is an African American in certain places within the U.S.

Even though a black man is running for president, racism is alive and well in America, as evidenced by the report of a foiled skinhead plot “to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.”

Now that's some terror for ya.

It’s not just African Americans who are at risk for such terrifying incidents. In Mesa, Arizona, recently, 30 sheriff’s deputies and 30 “volunteer posse” members — all armed with semiautomatic weapons — conducted a 2 a.m. raid on the town’s city hall and library to arrest 16 janitors. Can you imagine the terror the janitors must have felt when that crowd of hooligans burst through the door? Regardless of how one feels about immigration, actions that are intended to evoke terror are terrorism, and should be viewed as such.

But in America, the terrorists are always somebody else, out there. We refuse to see the terror we’ve inflicted on so many people, whether they’re in Middle Eastern villages, the cells of Guantanamo Bay, the meat-packing houses of the Midwest, the race-based traffic stops of our own inner cities, the jungles of Southeast Asia.

And until we recognize, and rectify, our own propensity toward terrorism, we shouldn't be too surprised if others want to terrify us. It's the old what goes around comes around law of nature.


Katy said...

Speaking of immigration, this "Pinky Show" episode is a must-see:


Anonymous said...

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race -
Dis a war.

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola,
In Mozambique,
South Africa
Sub-human bondage
Have been toppled,
Utterly destroyed -
Well, everywhere is war -
Me say war.

War in the east,
War in the west,
War up north,
War down south -
War - war -
Rumours of war.
And until that day,
The African continent
Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight - we find it necessary -
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory

Of good over evil -
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil -
Good over evil, yeah!

Anonymous said...

When we first began the war on Iraq, the media seemed to focus on everything but the civilian casualties. Who in their right mind actually believed that we would be welcomed as liberators after we engaged in our "preemptive" invasion? And now innocent Syrians are being killed? Bush is delusional when he says that "they" hate us for our freedom. They've got better reasons than that.