Jan 26, 2015

Terrorism is a Matter of Privilege

By Daniel Johnson
Source: Free Thoughts
As I watch the latest episode in international terrorism play out and the inevitable blaming of Islam for extremist behavior, I wonder if we will ever see the same blaming of Christianity for its extremist activity. As it currently exists, the discussion of terrorist actions can only apply if you are a Muslim or a person of color, or by some happenstance both at the same time.

As this story and narrative of the attack on a French news outlet has basically gone viral across the internet and in the media with much of the blame being placed on Islam and Muslims (If you missed Bill Maher’s Islamophobic rant on Jimmy Kimmel you missed an exercise in people’s intolerance of such foolishness) while a KKK linked attempted pipe bombing of an NAACP Branch in Colorado is largely ignored by the mainstream media outlets and is only now being recognized by the FBI as “possibly terrorism”.
This is the problem with how discussions of terrorism are framed in America, terrorism is either something done in some faraway place relative to America or by people who are from some faraway place relative to America. Americans cannot in these parameters be considered to be terrorists. Yet Assata Shakur is on the FBI Most Wanted list while the KKK isn’t even recognized as a terrorist organization even though their methods historically ARE terroristic.
We easily shrug away and swat away the notion of the KKK as a Christian organization by saying that their actions are not consistent with any real interpretations of the life and teachings of Christ or any depictions contained within the Bible, yet we forget the Old Testament can largely be interpreted in a vacuum as ethnocentrism which is in line with the thinking of the KKK. However even this is shot down by staunch scholars who say there is no valid basis for this conclusion. When is the last time you’ve seen any violent extremist argue rationally?
Christianity is largely afforded a power and a privilege that Islam is never given, the power to assert itself as a peaceful religion absent of any weight or responsibility for the extremists it produced. And it is this backdrop against which our public discussions of terrorism are always set, an air of superiority is afforded Christianity while Islam is the inferior and lesser religion because they encourage violence always using badly supported logic and selective quotation of the Quran. Yet if we selectively quote the Bible, it too sounds like a violent set of beliefs and assorted ethnocentric laws.
If we are going to fight “terrorism” then it is imperative that we fight these misconceptions that color our view of what terrorism is. If we cannot accept that Christianity has also produced its share of views and groups that are extremist and have lead to massive bloodshed then we cannot in righteous faith keep pushing this decidedly one sided view of Islam as the only reason that terrorism is seen in the world.
The facts are that terrorism is about instilling fear, regardless of the faith or the face involved. It’s time that we accepted that our coverage and definition of terrorism is based largely upon Privilege and White Supremacy. It’s also time to change this. Far past time to change this. If we will place individuals with warped mindsets on the terror list, the least we can do is put a group with a warped mindset on the terror list regardless of how we use free speech to protect them.
Free speech is no excuse to exercise privilege without concern for those who by your protection are left voiceless and without protection. Which brings up this issue of framing the discussion around the shooting in France as an issue of free speech. Free speech is protected, reactions are not protected against. This argument too, is veiled in White Supremacy and privilege allowing the print to be used on the side of oppression and not on the side of the oppressed. See how privilege works? Turning a paper into the agent of oppression is not the aim of good media and good art. Terrorism should not be a matter of Privilege, so let’s not make it one.
Daniel Johnson is a poet and short story writer from Huntsville, a town close to Houston. The views expressed in this post are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Interfaith Houston.

1 comment:

  1. We are blamed for the past, which is a waste of time, hopefully we have learned, just as good God loving Muslims will learn from this when it ends. For it will. Don't forget, we judge our own groups by our best, those outside, by their worst....sad but true.

    Will we learn, change? Maybe not, but that does not mean we do not seek to spread understanding and yes love for others.