Simon Jenkins, who is a journalist I respect, wrote a very good article about the Boston terrorist attack. The title of the piece gives away its main point: After the bomb, mass hysteria is the Boston terrorist’s greatest weapon. He convincingly argues that the huge publicity that the “terrorists” behind this outrage are getting is exactly what they wanted. They wanted to disrupt the lives of people, and by politicians and the media spreading hysteria, they are helping the terrorists with their agenda.
But I would like to point out a more sinister aspect to the attention and publicity terrorists are being generously given. The term terrorism has been well and carefully developed by Western politicians and media to conjure up an image of groups and individuals in various parts of the world who are engaged in violent activities against innocent people. One often stressed attribute of these groups is their being Muslims. So, the typical scenario starts with a local atrocity which, using speculation or clear evidence and facts, is linked to a “terrorist” or a group of them, who are in turn linked to international terrorism. Even if the culprits turn out to be non-Muslims, by the time this unwelcome fact becomes known, the suggestions, both explicit and implicit, of politicians and the media would have done the damage and brainwashed people.
So, when it comes to the criminals who commit the atrocities, “terrorist” is presented as a global concept that bypasses borders and lumps together a variety of groups with different agendas and locations. Identifying Muslim groups in particular is seen as a particularly useful. This is a globalization of terrorism.
But when it comes to the victims of those atrocities, the approach is the exact opposite. Here the concept of “victim” is localized. So while an act of terrorism in an American or European city is used to remind people of the terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Palestine….etc, it is not used to remind those very people of the victims of similar violence in those same countries. The reason is that this would expose the fact that those equally innocent non-Westerners were victimized by similar terror the perpetrators of which are the same Western governments that are supposedly fighting terror everywhere.
This is how an atrocity, like the recent on in Boston, is made to remind people of acts of terrorist and violence in many other place, but the victims of the atrocity are kept completely unrelated to the victims of the American drone raids in Pakistan; the thousands of children, women, elderly people, and generally innocent victims of aerial bombardment of Afghanistan; numerous victims of the violent apartheid policies of Israel against the Palestinian people….etc.
Globalizing terrorist but localizing victims cannot be anything less than violent racism.