31 July 2011

White men don’t kill, period

A few weeks ago, the world hadn’t heard of a man called Anders Behring Breivik.  Today he’s a name on the street. A little over a week ago he was blood on the streets, bricks all over, smoke and bereavement, tears and fear.

Today, when I think of Anders Behring Breivik, I remember a man called Timothy McVeigh, another of those blood-brick-body-part-fear-tear gentlemen who also happened to be a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed individuals who were egged on by the most fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of Christianity but who never earned the terrorist tag. 

Today, thinking of both these terrorists (should we call them Christian Terrorists, as per the style of the mainstream Western media and the big name leaders of that part of the globe?) my thoughts went to Ron Shelton’s 1992 film ‘White men can’t jump’, starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.  It is about streetball hustlers and not gun-toting thugs spraying bullets in the name of Jesus Christ, and  I remembered the movie on account of the title, because reading about Breivik, it seemed that there’s a strong conviction among those who write to the mainstream media that white men don’t terrorize. 

Made me think of Adolf Hitler, the man who did to white people what white people had been doing to black, brown and yellow people for centuries.  Made me think that if the mainstream press is reluctant to call Breivik and McVeigh terrorists, it is not surprising that they would not associate the biggest perpetrators of crimes against humanity in the past two decades, George W Bush, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and David Cameron with the thing called ‘terrorism’. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, one is persuaded to conclude, is the privilege of power.  Power allows you to define others and dodge definition, even if act describes oneself more than those vilified with name-tag and descriptive. 

The whole of Norway is gripped by fear.  It is accompanied by brave-face announcements of resistance.  Norway is operating as though terrorism is some kind of unknown tropical disease even though Norway has for years been a staunch supporter of terrorist outfits and has done all it could to legitimate terrorism (by the LTTE and by Isreal, for example).   Norway has been the default ‘Eelam’ of Tiger Terrorism.  

Now Norway, with all these associations with terrorism and blood-shed (including barbaric rituals of slaughtering whales by the hundreds every year accompanied naturally by a lot of chest-beating, nationalistic hurrahs), seems to be nationally tongue-tied in naming Breivik as the terrorist that he is.  Just like the USA or the big-name networks were net-tied in calling McVeigh a barbarian.  They might as well make a movie titled ‘White men don’t terrorize’. 

The point that is missed in all this is that terrorism is not the preserve of any community, nation, ethnicity, religious sect etc.  Terrorism is terrorism.  It must be named, it must be prevented and its perpetrators eliminated or else captured and held so they cannot harm innocent people. 

I’ve just read an article by Karen Kissane titled ‘The Enemy Within’, which refers to last week’s twin attacks in Norway.  Karen writes about a 200,000-strong ‘March of Flowers’, a remembrance parade commemorating the victims.  ‘Brought out the best in people,’ Karen correctly observes.  I don’t know if Karen knows about terrorism and what it does to people in other parts of the world, but we in Sri Lanka have seen hundreds of Breiviks and had we done this flower march on each occasion a Breivik doused us with blood and bullets, this island would be flower-less now. 

Catharsis relieves perhaps and I empathize with the Norwegians who expressed grief and resolve one way or another.  On the other hand, as expected, Breivik’s terrorism has brought to surface the latent racism of Europe, Swastikas and all.  Let me qualify that.  White racism is something the world experiences every day, in the form of dictates and bullets, and worse, explanations that it is being sprayed around for the benefit of the victims.  So when I say it ‘surfaces’, I mean that it has just marked its presence on European streets.  The media, of course has painted these ‘developments’ as somehow being marginal, evidence of anomaly and certainly having no common ground with the ideology, policy and actions of the relevant governments in dealing with the rest of the world or with people in their own countries who are not quite white, subscribe to faiths other than Christianity and in other ways ‘different’.

The white media (yes, let’s call it what it is!) is bending over backwards to establish that Breivik was a loner and not a product of long-standing white supremacist ideologies that lie just below the thin skin of European liberalism.  The racism inherent in the Maastricht Treaty is never mentioned.  The blowing up of cities, massacre of hundreds and the displacement of tens of thousands of non-whites by white armies operating under orders of white political establishments (Barack Obama is as white as they get in terms of what he says and does with respect to non-whites, just in case you wondered) is absent from political discussion on the Oslo attacks. 

Had the attacker been a professed Muslim or carried a name like Mohammed, on the other hand (as has happened in history), the media would not have enough of spouting venom on the subject of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’, I am willing to wager.  Indeed, the initial reaction after the bomb explosion in Oslo was nothing more than speculation about it being the work of Islamic Fundamentalists, just like in Oklahoma in 1995, before it was found that the terrorist (sorry, mentally unstable psychopath) was white, blue-eyed, blond-haired and subscribed to the Christian faith.

Let me repeat the bottom line reading of the mainstream media and general Western perceptions in the matter of dozens of people being killed:  ‘White men (and women of course) don’t engage in terrorism!’

Did I hear someone laugh?  If I did, it must be some deranged non-Christian who is either brown, black or yellow.  Am I correct, Your Royal Highness (sic), King Harald?  What say you, Your Excellency (sic), Jens Stoltenberg? And how about you little Rupert Murdoch wannabes playing pundit in the busy cities of Europe or reporting about terrorists and terrorism from other parts of the world? 

[Courtesy 'Sunday Island', July 31, 2011]