On the radio this evening they were arguing about the murders of the three Muslim students down in North Carolina, or rather how to refer to the crime. Was it terrorism? Or simple good old American gun violence over nothing at all?

If we judge by how other Muslim Americans report feeling, it was an act of terror. It made many Americans feel less safe. If we judge it by the scale of the atrocity and it’s likely long-term affects on Muslim Americans, I’m not so sure.

In the time that the three kids were murdered in NC, thousands in the Mideast were murdered, many in the name of religion and terror. In France the prisons continued to be populated 50% by Arabs/North Africans. In the U.S., black women were raped, black men were assaulted by representatives of government, and prisons continued to fill up with young African Americans.

Terrorism isn’t a simple thing. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in OK, most Americans were able to shrug it off as some crazy white dude. On 9/11, we all felt less safe, and allowed our government to make us so by engaging in domestic spying and unjustified foreign wars. I’ve spoken to Chaldeans whose families in Iraq are under threat by ISIS and are living in terror.

Terrorism is subjective. There are the individual acts, and the direct effects on the victims. There is the wider effect. And there are the imbalances of power.

What the discussion allows us to do is to identify systemic problems. Muslims are often demonized in the US. This leads to small-scale acts of terror, and to larger ones, some that we call wars. And these distract us from one of our biggest acts of societal terror: the continued subjugation of African Americans through our school-to-prison pipeline, our ghettoization of education, the Jim Crow job ceiling (which is not a “southern thing.”)

I’m no expert in race. I’m obviously not black, nor a scholar. But if we wish to make sense of the murder of the Muslim students in the south it makes sense to evaluate or domestic and foreign policy that is springs from. The only steps we’ve made toward our domestic terrorism is to ignore it. The only steps we’ve taken to avoid wars in the Mideast…well, we haven’t. We have a really big hammer, and everything from the Med to the Indus is a nail.

If we really want to make sense of terrorism, let’s clean house a little. That will only make us stronger to deal with very real external threats.

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1 Comment

  1. Cynthia Currie

     /  February 22, 2015

    One thing I recently learned, which I was amazed to find has not been talked about at all, is that Isis is an offshoot of Islam in the same way that David Koresh and Charles Manson were an offshoot of Christianity. Their behavior is shaped by trying to create terror and chaos in order to help bring about the “Endtime.” Yes, the so called Rapture is not for Christians only. Isis hopes to destroy the culture and human rights which hold society together through acts of barbarism. They have no ties to mainstream Islam at all. All they are interested in is destroying society and seeing the end of the world.

    I find it infuriating that this has not been publicized at all, leaving most Americans to believe that Isis is acting in a way that a Muslim would find acceptable. Not true. They are crazy and disturbed offshoots who destroy everything they touch. One thing we can do is to refuse to stoop to their behavior, to refuse to use their behavior to demonize the members of Islam, and to stop giving them air time on the news or social media.

    If we want to keep the world in a state of civilization, we need to extend dignity to all its members, all religions, races, states and genders. Mohammed preached to his people to look inside themselves and root out their inner hatreds, to leave behind prejudice, and to pledge help to the poor and needy.

    Like all the prophets of mankind, I am sad to think what these prophets would think of our world today. They dreamed of a better humanity. Don’t we all?

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