Thursday, June 18, 2015
Charleston: A terrorist attack in America
There was a horrendous terrorist attack in Charleston last night. A White-supremacist terrorist walked into a historic Black church and shot 9 people in cold blood: Of course it was a terrorist attack. That seems an easy call.
Now I don't see much American news directly on the media (meaning I don't watch CNN or FOX or whatever, i get my news from Twitter and Facebook and from links put there by people) so I don't know if it is being described as such by them. Maybe not. Several friends on Twitter and FB have certainly complained that it is not being portrayed as a terrorist attack and only Muslim attacks get portrayed that way and why and so on. Well, I had an "off the cuff" response on FB to one such complaint and I am just posting it here so that I can link to this when it comes up again:
I get my news via twitter and FB and on twitter and FB I see many people (many of them conservative Americans..I follow a lot of educated conservatives) calling him a terrorist. In fact, whenever the issue has been raised, I have not seen a single person on my timeline trying to argue that he is not a terrorist. It seems an easy call in this case. And SOME media seems to be calling him a terrorist:
At the same time, I dont agree with the notion that ALL mass casualty attacks should be labelled terrorism. I think the ones carried out for a cause, i.e. by people acting as members or free-lance supporters of specific political causes, should be called terrorism...some such attacks (or even many such attacks) are true nutcases and loner psychopaths whose cause, if any, is entirely in their head. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar... If a deranged Muslim attacks a school based on some psychotic (as in clinical psychosis) delusion and not as part of the (very real) international Jihadist cause, he too should not be labeled a terrorist and should be called a lone psychopath, etc.
On the other hand, If, (as in most attacks by Muslims in the West) the Muslim concerned is actually reasonably sane and is acting (no matter how foolishly) on behalf of international Jihad, then his actions can be called terrorism. Why not?
But as I said, I dont think of the name as being the biggest issue, though it is certainly an issue. In fact, it is one of my beefs with the postmarxist Western Left (defined very loosely) that they have been led (partly by people like Edward Said, partly because this sort of thing is just a feature of modern intellectual life, i.e. "a feature, not a bug" kind of situation; with the "left" having an unhealthy proportion of academics to real politicians, it was sort of bound to happen, etc etc..what came first, chicken or egg? endless arguments possible) into this blind alley where what is mostly fluff (what words were used, what tone was used, what was said in some novel by Jane Austen) is the biggest issue in society and much bigger and more substantive questions (specific historical background, organization, popular mobilization, TECHNOLOGY, correspondence of your theory of the world with historical, psychological, social or economic reality) are pushed down the list... It is a self-defeating strategy. In fact, it is so self-defeating that one can imagine a scenario (not literally true, but the imaginary scenario illustrates a point) where Mossad or the CIA decide that the best way to destroy their opponents is to get them to take every real issue (for example, racism) to some absurd and unreal level, so out of touch with reality that real fissures in your opponents camp and real historic opportunities are missed and the "activist" lives his life inside some bubble, with endless loops of arguments about semiotics and microaggressions and other bullshit...all the while, the real world and its far more consequential oppressions and injustices can carry on unconcerned. Probably no one planned it that way (intelligence agencies are rarely that intelligent) but something like that has happened (see this old post of mine to see what I mean in a slightly different context).
By the way, I do recognize that today is probably the worst day for me to say this sort of thing. With even a stuck clock being right once a day, this day happens to be the time when the stuck clock of the SJW brigade is (almost) right.
Something like that.
PS: Anil Das on twitter raised the point that the designation is imporant in terms of what funds are available to combat that sort of crime. Terrorism gets more money than hate-crime. That may well be true, but that is NOT the point my friends were raising. IF they raised that point, they would be saying something of practical significance. My whole point is that too much of the time, it is NOT a practical issue (and even when it is, the practical aspect is not what triggered the social media concern).
The early FB post that triggered this discussion (this was before he had been identified)