My good friend and fellow comedian Corey White (@MrCoreyWhite) made a clever video which I greatly enjoyed and support his viewpoint. I did point out that the May 22nd Woolwich attack (btw, the 2nd W is silent) was not a beheading, but still was a violent act in every sense. I assume we can all agree that the media simply used this buzzword (either knowingly or unknowingly) to lull the public into the expected uninformed reactions regarding terrorism or Islamic extremism.
It’s a good video and something to keep in mind for all Australians and even people in the UK:
A friend of Corey’s then posted the following reply, to which I am devoting this blog post rather than simply posting it as another comment on Facebook, since it will be lost in the ether after a day or two. At least here, I have archives I can go to, and we can all share this much easier:
Mitch Alexander – I’m uncomfortable about positioning an end to the war based on being the victim of terrorism. Fuck that; that’s like asking the terrorists to stop because otherwise we’ll invade their countries of origin.
My main point still seems largely unaddressed – Why are we giving credence to the men that kill, on EITHER side of the debate? You’re posing a false dichotomy by saying “government bad/terrorists reactionary”. The same mentality that drone strikes innocent people in the hills of Pakistan is the one that attacks the civilians of that country. Why do we need to value that stance Corey? It’s logically open to denounce both views as abhorrent, and move forward with the intention of dismantling both.
Obviously one step towards that will be withdrawing from the war zones.
I know you don’t think this all started on 9/11. This has been brewing for centuries; men with power and guns going after other men with power and guns, involving the populace who have little choice (which is my problem with the taxation argument – we have 23 million people here, 300 million in the States. We can’t just “stop paying taxes”, nor can we dictate where they go. The same taxes that fund the war effort also pay for schools, hospitals, roads etc. It’s up to us to protest changes we don’t want. We did. Millions of us. They didn’t fucking listen. What do you want us to do next, strap bombs to ourselves?).
We need to dismantle the infrastructure that allows this whole system to perpetuate. We’re arguing for the same result, I think we’re just coming at it from different angles, mine being that the terrorists deserve the same derision and contempt as the governments.
We’ve also had terrorist attacks before the 00’s, it’s just that we’ve now (like all other countries) had the dichotomy of us Vs. them placed on us by both our leaders and terrorist cells.
Here are two things to consider:
1) Why do they regularly target their own countrymen? If this was *purely* a matter of anti-Western intervention, then you’d think the number of civilian causalities in Iraq and Afghanistan would be minimal, no? That they would be sure to target ONLY Western interests, and not civilians who regularly make up different ethnicities, religions and other arbitrary distinctions.
2) The Muslim population of the world equals 1.6 billion people. 1% of that is 16 million. I’m going to say I don’t believe there are 16 million Islamist terrorists out there. If this was simply cause by Western intervention and justifiable without extraneous (and “extremist”) view points, you’d think more than 1% of the population would join up. My argument is that the mindset that commits to terrorism is a fundamentally pathological one that doesn’t deserve credence in our dialogue. The media has done a fantastic job portraying otherwise, and perpetuation the schism between innocent people on both sides of the violence.
What we need to do is move beyond both the extremist and Government point of view.
This page is also pretty informative. Note where the majority of terrorist attacks take place, and the public sentiment towards terrorist attacks (it declines)
This link above is very interesting, though irrelevant considering the subject of Corey’s video.
HERE is my response to the broader issues, namely, being uncomfortable with the growing narrative of liberal and more educated people/opponents of the war on terror:
We in the west are creating more terrorists with our foreign policy. As terrible as the Woolwich attack and others like it are, they come almost always as reactions to warring, oppressive actions perpetrated by our governments (and government puppets like private contractors who need not be named…because they’ll just change it again – Black Water *wink wink*).
Terrorism exists because of “naughty” foreign policy
You should be uncomfortable with this notion, ‘cos it sucks, but welcome to the world. It’s full of uncomfortable truths, like the fact that Santa doesn’t exist, or that the food you love eating as a kid, is terrible for you and will shorten your life.
“I don’t want to eat a salad, it tastes like nothing!”
“I know, but you need to eat it so you can live longer and feel healthier and happier. If you eat them for like 5 years, you’ll eventually start to like them”
“I don’t want to work in an office with idiots 45 hours a week, 48 weeks a year shifting numbers around with no stimulation or natural lighting”
“I know, but you need to earn a living and that’s a good stable career…”
“So after like 5 years, I’ll start to like it?”
“… yeah, sure. Don’t do drugs! But see a doctor if you feel sad and he’ll give you magic happy ‘medication’”
Existing in this world, we are late to the show and have to leave early; we try to have our own little lives, in the middle of vast, expansive and complicated History, and we’re all surprised when our shit gets interfered with. Have you ever noticed relationships are hard, because the other person has all these demons and things going on they can’t really explain properly to you? We are trying to build a relationship with a fully grown adult who has been traumatised by some pretty bad lovers in the past. You ever try and have a relationship with someone who was abused as a kid? It takes a lot of work and understanding, which is good, everyone deserves love. The society we are trying to create has had some shit go down, and they don’t wanna talk about it right now, so give them some space, but don’t leave them alone okay? Stay in the room, but don’t touch them…
We ALL have demons in our closet and we are ALL selfish: There are no clean slates, and everything is a reaction to something.
Absolutes such as “Don’t hurt anybody and people who do are bad bad naughty bum clods” don’t work.
We won’t ever have a society where everyone is cool. We will never see this:
“Hey you can’t use your ticket in the gate there? That’s fine, I’m gonna be a little late to work, but I understand, those machines are tricky”
Maybe once in a blue fucking moon (sounds like a cheesy metaphor, or is that an analogy, an aphorism? But whatever, when have you ever seen a blue moon?). It will always be:
“Why are you fucking retarded? Get your ticket out NOW. MOVE. I’m gonna be late because of you! Yeah I could have left 5 minutes earlier but I wanted to enjoy every last second of freedom I have, but now I’m going to be late and they’re going to ask me why am I late, and I’m going to snap and tell them ‘because I hate this fucking place and your stupid faces and your dumb conversations and how pointless my life is and fuck I should have followed my dreams but my parents didn’t know any better and the only way out is death, sweet drug induced death! Oh is that coffee? Ahh, yeah did you catch that game last night? Oh Sport helps us define who we are!”
Terrorism exists because of “naughty” foreign policy
This SHOULD make you uncomfortable, because it is unpleasant. The initial reaction to something unpleasant is to not accept it. You ever lose your phone? The first thing you do is deny that you’ve lost your phone, or that someone would EVER steal a phone, “No way. No…WAY have I lost my PHONE! This is bullshit! GOD… People who steal phones are fucking evil assholes!”
Just because something is unpleasant doesn’t mean isn’t true. It’s just hard to accept. There are usually a few stages between denial and acceptance I’ve heard…
Violence exists, a lot. Too much in fact – I’m going out on a limb and I’m saying Too Much Violence.
However, we can’t just say that it shouldn’t exist. WE KNOW IT SHOULDN’T. And yes, killing innocent people is a shitty way to fight oppression. BUT IT HAPPENS and you can’t stop it by calling them poo faced fuckstick pee turds.
Further to that, Corey’s video was about Islamic Terrorism IN AUSTRALIA. This is not the same as it is in the US or Britain which have had horribly manipulative and destructive policies in Muslim countries for almost 100 years. There is a lot of documentation on this, but it’s very defeatist (and lazy) to write off the assertions about specific threats in Australia on this basis. Even beyond it being untrue, we cannot fall into believing that Terrorism existed before 9/11 and has always existed, will always exist, and we just can’t do anything about that.
People in Australia in fact, faced very little, if any, threat from Islamic Terrorism prior to 9/11 (i.e. the reactions to it), because we had yet to engage in overtly oppressive and violent actions against Muslim people and nations. That means that it is possible to understand why these dangers face the people in Australia specifically, because there is recent history to look at for direct motivations, and possible solutions.
IF YOU DON’T LOOK FOR THOSE THINGS, WHAT IS LEFT?
“Oh, we can’t do anything, we can’t stop it; it’s been going on too long. We marched against the war, they ignored us, so what do we do, just not pay taxes?”
MAYBE? If enough people gave a shit about how culpable they are for massive violence, and not just the physical violence of maiming and killing people, but of destroying towns, cities, nations that were full of culture, history, architecture , music and community and love, if you don’t feel bad about how shitty that is to the point that MAYBE you want to take a little responsibility, if you don’t want to take the few minutes you have and use your education and intelligence to think of ways to actually DO something about that, then at least stop pretending that you did everything you could but you really do have to get to work and pay rent.
That is the point, WE are culpable and we NEED to remind ourselves of that fact every day.
You are right, our protests are ignored. We do not have access to the machines upon which we must now thrust our bodies to stop them from working. They are just as corrupt, but as hard as we protest, we cannot get close enough to affect the machine.
We cannot affect foreign policies because they are economically motivated, and not going to work at Starbucks for a day or two isn’t going to affect the governments bottom lines in the same way that losing out on millions of barrels of oil (or a whole lot of whatever natural gas or heroin are kept in) would. Our protests against these wars and occupations and proxy wars and trying desperately to have war criminals actually held accountable will go unheeded, because we cannot affect their bottom line by standing in a park. That is like giving chocolate to a 4 year old and telling him to not eat it,
“Why, what’s going to happen if I do?”
“Well, I’ll be upset about it”
“Ok, but you’re not my dad so if you’re not going to get me in trouble, fuck you, I’m eating it”
And then you say,
“Awww, no, I’m not happy about this, please don’t, you area mean, very articulate but foul mouthed 4 year old. Aww, you’ve eaten it all. Here’s some more, please don’t eat it. Arggh, you’re eating it again!”
You can’t just complain, you have to ask that question every day,
“What do we do next?” (PS, the answer is like, MOST likely to not use bombs. If it didn’t work for Tyler Durden, it won’t work for us)
There are apparently TWO further things to consider, but the FIRST is almost too baseless to acknowledge.
No one should be distracted by the thought “why aren’t there two clear sides that make sense in this conflict? If it’s Westerners attacking Muslims, why aren’t Muslims just attacking Westerners?”
Terrorism exists because of “naughty” foreign policy
This NOT a universal dictum, and is not the only reason someone will commit an act of terrorism, and that does not invalidate its truth.
All soldiers and mobilised forces accept collateral damage in varying measures, but what else are you expecting?
Are you expecting ALL terrorists to abide by rules and be some kind of noble Rhode scholars? No, they’re not a homogenous group. They are just people and they have their own ignorant prejudices too, so some attacks are just dumb.
“My mother died in an English Drone strike attack. To avenge her death, I am going to blow up this apple tree, because English people love cider. Yeah!”
I hear they’re making a Funniest Home Videos: Terrorism Edition. I just hope Jo Beth Taylor is still available to host? She is? Of course! She has nothing else to do except tan and inject plastic into her face? Great!
(I should clarify that by “terrorists” I don’t mean the drone pilots and helicopter gunmen who kill innocent people going about their daily lives. I mean the brown ones no one in this country cares about. NOT the ones shown in a grainy high school photo on the news when they stub their fucking toe and get called a hero because they still managed to have a nice haircut and put on a suit. GOD, we love suits don’t we? THAT’S the problem with terrorists; you can’t look nice in a suit with a beard and sandals. If Jesus was alive today, he’d wear a suit. Get with the times you dirty religious nuts!)
The good news is that, yes, there are 1.6 BILLION Muslims in the world, so the actual extremists are a very tiny percentage of the population, meaning that Islam itself, does not lead to violence.
HOWEVER, we can’t get bogged down in the knowledge of numbers, because despite being a very marginal percentage, our population is fucking huge. More importantly, there are always “crazy people” in societies of all kinds, but when things are good, no one listens to them. If you take away those good rules and structures, well, suddenly people go a little bit fucking crazy don’t they? Do I even have to reference a film, or a TV show, or a book, or a play or anything for you to think of someone who’s pointed that out to us?
What we have to do, is stop giving people a reason to listen to them.
In the same week as the Boston bombing there was a drone strike in Yemen (who the fuck are we even fighting in Yemen, is that a real country? When has anyone ever thought, ‘ugh, fucken crazy Yemen!’ Where the fuck is that? Is it in South America? Oh no, wait, it’s an island in the Caribbean, it’s next to Jamaica… YeaahMahn? Ha ha, good one. No, it’s really a country?) Yes, Yemen is next to Saudi Arabia and people are generally ok with the way things are, UNTIL drones killed a whole bunch of people when they were just trying to get one guy who could have been arrested by local authorities if the US just made a phone call. That behaviour is what turns smart, content, and often not even particularly religious family men, towards the idea of listening to someone crazy.
Why do we give credence to terrorism as a clear reaction to our own actions? We do it to find another way to oppose! We do it so that we may find what we all want – peace and a new model for better living.
Why do we want to understand the actions of terrorists? So that we may humanise them. So that we can see what exactly is perpetuating the violence all around us, (not just the physical remember) and that is restricting the best possible future for this world.