Edited on 4/25/2018 for clarity and a few careless grammar and spelling errors.
Radicalization has come to be synonymous with Islam and Islam signals folks who are non white although there have been a few notable Caucasian converts. It’s generally reserved for people who fall of the liberal western wagon and fall into the muddy ditch of identitarian authoritarianism. In other words radicalized = converted to radical Islam.
We use the term which should serve as a general description of anyone who has committed beyond reason to an ideology, usually a violent and destructive one, as a shortcut for signaling Islam. It’s a mistake that both reflects and colors our values, one that on some level is not a mistake at all but instead a value judgement based on so many assumptions.
We do operate in the sphere of cultural supremacy, the combination of assuming that so-called western values are the most “right” and that those values have all their roots in white western culture and those roots are purely derived from Europe and the cultural superiority of being American. Both are pretty ignorant, they assume that the blanks of history are all colored in White. They assume that, given all the interaction between the subjugated and the subjigators both here and abroad, now and in the past, that there is only one way to rub off.
They assume that missionaries and explorers, slavers and guests, never had any contact with people who produced any kind of two-way exchange. They assume that the spices and foods, culinary habits being one of the first and best introductions to a culture, were never traded. They assume that hunting and gathering and farming in different climates did not have some impact on those who observed them. They assume things that we in our daily lives know to be patently untrue. In the US, our art, culture culinary traditions and language borrow so much from outside influences that we’ve sometimes assumed they started here.
We operate, despite evidence to the contrary, in a blanket of assumptions that color our culture and language. We assume that only the Islamists are radicalized, we reserve that word for non-whites and race traitorous converted whites. When an instance of violence occurs perpetuated by a person of white European descent we make every excuse for their actions even when the targets and methods would suggest otherwise. We assume there is any other motive than what would be obvious if they were Muslim.
Until we can call a terrorist a terrorist, regardless of the color of their skin, until we can equate acts of violence based on ideology, regardless of what that ideology is, we are hopelessly lost in our delusion that White western culture is the only source from which civilization springs. We are also ignorant of our own cultural infancy as Americans, our civilization is not half as old as those we pull influence from and we can’t seem to integrate that into our collective consciousness.
We keep arguing around these issues, talking about SJWs instead of just being courteous enough to each other to simply listen, consider and then react, we keep using language that diminishes the concerns of people to tropes, on all sides. We color “flyover states” and BLM with broad brushes, not recognizing the breadth of opinion in the pigeonholed groups we create. We talk about western culture like it came about in a vacuum and ignore all the surrounding pieces assuming that the history we know, despite so many obvious modern parallels, is history with nothing left out.
We make a lot of assumptions, we kind of have to, but with the expanse of information we have at our fingertips we ignore even the slightest tweaks to our own worldview.
Even when it is as obvious as the growing number of violent acts perpetrated by those steeped in “western values.”
I can’t conceive of the feeling of being so angry that you feel the need, not only to take your own life, but the lives of random strangers. No one’s political cause was ever helped by this, or have they?
They want us to hate them, specifically the degenerate fuck-nozzles who killed 34 and injured over 200. By them I mean they want us to hate ALL MUSLIMS. They want us to hate anyone, all 1.6 Billion believers in Islam, which encompass a wide swath of the racial. Political and social spectrum. They feel emboldened when they are hated and feared; they get power from it. Our unmeasured and even our measured responses ate recruiting tools for them, and they love when we hate them.
I’m not here to argue the nature of Islam, not here to defend religion in general, that with a few exceptions can both justify hate and create compassion. I’m not here to say that Islam is peaceful by nature, because no religion aside from Sikhism is at its core, peaceful. What I have to say is practical.
The few radical people, in any religion, who would use the vast majority of their followers (Christians, I’m looking at you too) as pawns, shields and scapegoats, deserve to die.
The loss of life in Brussels is terrible, sad and horrifying, and not only has it brought out the compassion and the unity of Europeans, but it has also brought out their fear and hatred. Against whom, you might ask? More of the innocents, the same innocents who perished in the bombings, were injured or killed by hate, will be slowly killed by more hate.
If the rise in nationalism, neo-nazism and ISIS recruitment is any indication, these few crazed believers are winning.
And I don’t even have to mention the 500lb orangutan in the room.
When I first heard of the tragic shootings in San Bernardino I was saddened, dismayed and angered. One thing I was not was shocked. We seem to have entered a period of violence that shows no signs of slowing down, violence in which ideology plays a huge role.
Not only religious and political ideology but the general permissiveness of violence, the ideology that says that heinous acts of violence, in all forms of culture, are permissible and in some cases encouraged. The ideologies of gun ownership and of gang violence, of police brutality and the conditions that create it. The ideology of hamstringing our boys, who already have enough on their plates by imposing new gender roles and no new ways to transition into manhood. The toxic ideology that at once encourages the sexualization of girls and young women and then tells them that their bodies are not their own. The ideology that says that everything is permissible before you even understand what everything really means.
To blame it on video games, music or even the presence of a toxic entitlement culture, any single factor, is nothing but political noise, the truth is far more complex. All of these factors colluded and combined to create a soup of confusion that we just don’t seem to be equipped to deal with.
On the topic of the latest round of violence I think we are looking for clues in all he wrong places. Our media, as usual, is catering to the lowest common denominator, going for the easy explanation where there is none and in the process only making things worse. As soon as the announcement was made that the two assailants had been “radicalized” in some way, the usual suspects started chiming in about immigration. A point which was at least half moot due to the fact that only one of the couple was not an American citizen. A point, when taken in the context of high-powered semi-automatic weapons and regular visits to the range seemed out of context with radicalization.
These people were supposed to be the “other” training overseas for jihadist terrorism, not training right under our very noses in such an “American” way. Just as most of the shooters in the multitude of mass killings in this country seemed “normal” these two seemed very normal and American. Though the family of the man who accompanied his (wife??) on the killing spree that left 14 people dead and several more wounded had no clue he had been planning anything like this, there were signs, there had to be. The problem is that they were draped as much in the trappings of being American as they were in the guise of terrorism.
Not to say that any “solution” including tightening gun restrictions or fixing some of the conditions that Americans who have been or could be radicalized, live in, will fix this, it won’t. Like many social movements this one is self propagating, as are the popular demagogues who loudly oppose it. What the demagoguery and most Americans miss has little to do with radical Islam and more to do with frustration and anger over lost glory, deceit of power and promises never kept.
Basically, everyone is angry, largely for the same reasons.
White men especially seem angrier than usual, which I find both perplexing and perfectly rational. Perplexing because, on the surface, they still have the very best deal. They have cultural hegemony, they comprise a vast swath of the middle class, the 1% and were in a much better position to ride out the financial crisis at all economic levels. They do not face the many entrenched racial biases that Black households face in housing (a major factor, as the linked article points out, being the disparity of loan offers to the same qualified borrowers) employment and education. Yes, culture is a factor, and any idiot who claims otherwise is just that, an idiot. The questions are then, how, why and what elements of “culture” contribute to the disparity, and by culture I mean perception of culture as much as any culture itself. Perfectly rational for many of the same reasons.
So minorities get doubly screwed from multiple angles, yet, somehow, White men are aggrieved?
Let me say this out front, there is an element to “Black Culture” several in fact, that I find sickening, but that isn’t the real story here because the number of elements I find repulsive in the larger American culture are legion compared to the former. After all, the abomination of misogynist and violent music, associated with Black America is repulsive and dehumanizing, but that in and of itself doesn’t cause every social ill affecting a large number of African Americans. That river runs through the whole of American culture, the focus on violence as a deterrent for violence, placing the need for information below the need for emotional resonance in our politics, blaming, lack of historical understanding and then claiming to understand history.
It also ran through Tim McVeigh, Dylan Roof, Wade Michael Page, Christopher Dorner and Eric Robert Rudolph.
Which brings me back to the point.
Some people just want to destroy. They are angry, enraged, fearful and despised and the easiest way to combat that is to appear stronger, get angrier and deafen, blocking out anything, any evidence that the world may be just as unfair to you as it is to everyone else. In the case of many White men this is a quite painful revelation when they had been insulated from this fact for so long.
To me, whether or not and when these two were radicalized is not the point, understanding why is. Why did they turn on innocent people and lash out, why did they kill? To the best of my knowledge they did not chant “god is great” while mowing down their neighbors, they did not seem, by the choosing of their targets, to be making any kind of greater statement. By many accounts there was a seething anger in them that boiled over into rage. Yes local government officials were present according to some reports, but why carry out an act of terror in a town that has no strategic value? Why when the attack was carried out, did ISIL (or ISIS or whatever the fuck) call it out immediately, take responsibility for it? Why did it take so many days for them to even acknowledge it?
They were either angry and needed an excuse to kill or they were the worst terrorists ever because judging by the delayed response, even ISIL couldn’t figure out what they were doing and why. But when you are a terrorist organization that survives on breeding hatred and distrust in the countries you despise, any means to that end is helpful.
Despite their radicalization, apparently years long planning and appearance these two were not terrorists, they were assholes who used ideology to justify a killing spree. Just because they were pushed over the edge by a “cause” one which all but guaranteed that their small daughter would grow up without parents, does not make this crime a terrorist act. It was the act of two people so angry and desperate that they needed something, anything, to justify “going postal.”
If nothing else though, they gave terror a gift in their passing. Though by any standard they do not deserve martyrdom they may have gained it. They set in motion another thoughtless, terrifyingly fascistic wave in America. As the fringe racist right has steadily gained power in Europe (again) so it seems the United States is following. He who shall not be named’s tirades notwithstanding, there is a sizable chunk of this country that is ready as well, to use ideology and empty rhetoric to incite more violence against innocent people.
I don’t care what ideology you use to justify your hatred or violence, it is still hatred and violence and should not be tolerated by a free society. A society that is becoming even more “free” for a certain few and less free for everyone else. In any case it is no excuse for violence against people just trying to live their lives in peace.
Isn’t It Ironic?
There is no way I could have said this better, so I won’t try.
When asked whether we should adjust our immigration quotas less than 5% of Americans surveyed said the answer was yes. In another poll, When asked if we should admit 10,000 children fleeing persecution in their home country a whopping 60% flat-out said no. Most people wouldn’t be surprised by these numbers, especially if they had been counted recently. But that isn’t the case at all.
The first poll was taken in July of 1938. When asked whether we should up our immigrant quotas to accept refugees from Austria, Hungary, Germany and other European nations fleeing the rise of the Third Reich, roughly 18% said yes, 67% said no. The second poll (taken in 1939) asks whether we should accept Jewish refugee CHILDREN into the country 10,000 to be exact, and 60% polled, wanted to deny them entry into the US.
Now you could say that the United States was going through a period of Isolationism, which would be true, we were still bruised by the fallout from WW1 and our financial markets were in turmoil so we had plenty to keep us busy internally. You could use that as an excuse, if it had been the only instance of this type of fear we’d experienced, but unfortunately, it isn’t.
Ever hear the term wop? It is a highly offensive term for Italian immigrants (and later Italian-Americans in general) , generally it is thought that the term originates from an acronym without papers or without passport, but this is untrue. But what that false etymology tells us is that there was great distrust for “the other” regardless of where they came from. What about the level of distrust and fear that came along with the immigration of Irish into this country? Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York very graphically illustrates the complex relationships of both established and newly arrived immigrants and their struggles with poverty and acceptance (and how they turn on each other as they become more integrated into American society).
There is also the long resentments between Chinese and Irish immigrants as well as Japanese American internment during WW2. In the last case, immigrants who had in many cases been born American were rounded up and kept in camps simply because of their heritage.
Hell, the poor Irish were even judged on par with “Negroes” in their perceptions as shiftless, lazy and procreative. The propaganda of Irish racialism was so widespread that it appeared in mainstream publications as justification of their judgment of the Irish as “racially inferior.” The Italians went through much the same, as did the Chinese, Indian, etc. etc.
So, you may ask, what am I getting at here?
None of this recent crop of Imigrintophobia is new.
That, however does not mean it isn’t dangerous, terrifying and could turn into something far worse. The “white rage” race-baiting of Trump (he has a bevy of supporters on the far fringe racist right) along with the implicit pandering to anti-feminists, alpha types and assorted other MRA’s, threatens to push us right to the precipice of having our own little lily-white Talibans. Already there have been lone wolves associated loosely with these points of view, shooting up schools, movie theaters and public places. Sikhs, Jews and Blacks have been random targets of bigoted violence. Some of the perpetrators of the violence have claimed to be a part of the “Beta Uprising.”
We are potentially headed down a very dark path.
I’ve heard a few pundits claim that this too shall pass, that the bigoted generation will eventually die off and the younger, more inclusive demographic will lead us out of this. Unfortunately this political generation is different. The middle-aged, white demographic, when it isn’t (sadly, I might add, because suicide is never happy) killing itself off, is living longer, staying healthier and getting more radical.
This generation of disaffected young to middle-aged white males, also serves disproportionately in the armed services, making them potentially very dangerous under the right ideology. It’s already estimated that there are significant numbers of military and ex-military personnel who have been radicalized in white racist ideology. Radicalized. Let that sink in.
None of this is new, except all of it.
Though some of their followers may be users monitoring them, these users have shown allegiance to terror and should be called out.